You may remember my trip to Uzes last fall, if you’ve been reading this blog for a little while. After my visit to the Witches’ Market in Saint-Chaptes, I stopped off at La Bambouseraie, near the town of Anduze. La Bambouseraie is a botanical garden, dedicated – no prizes for guessing – to bamboo. It had been on my list of places to visit for many years, so it was quite exciting to finally be able to get there!!
As it was out of season and not long before the garden closed for the winter, there were few visitors, which suited me fine! 🙂
Right from the entrance gate, bamboo was in evidence everywhere, from stands of enormously tall bamboo, to the fence made from bamboo poles.
The history of the garden dates back to 1856, when Eugene Mazel, a passionate botanist, started to plant his exotic garden. Following the death of Mazel, Gaston Negre bought the estate in 1902 and continued Eugene Mazel’s work. The estate still belongs to the Negre family – it is now run by Gaston Negre’s granddaughter, Muriel.
Today the part of the estate which is open to the public covers 15 hectares (about 37 acres). Another 19 hectares (47 acres) are given over to a nursery where bamboo is grown for sale. I would describe the visit of the garden as ‘spectacular’ – I was absolutely amazed by the beauty and sheer size of the bamboo plantations!! There were so many different types!
The self-guided visit, where an audio commentary was available at certain points, was highly informative!
The stalk of giant bamboo (phyllostachys bambusoïdes) in the picture below is 20.8 metres long!!
Deep in the bamboo forest, I found a cluster of buildings, all constructed from bamboo! The buildings below are typical of the houses of Lao people, who live in the Mekong river plain. Built on stilts, the houses are in three parts: the main living quarters, the kitchen, which is joined to the living quarters, and the rice store, which is set a little apart.
The ‘shop’ is another building on stilts, and one of the meeting points for the village. The shopkeeper lives in the shop! All the items on the shelves are made from bamboo too!
A charming enclosure was home to some little black pigs! 🙂
Phlyllostachys bambusoïdes is the star plant at La Bambouseraie – it is as strong as steel, and can be used to reinforce concrete in place of steel. It also has an incredibly fast growth rate – at the garden they have measured a growth of over 1 metre in the space of 24 hours!! In the picture below, you can see the root system at the base of a stalk.
The name bamboo covers a variety of plants – all of them belonging to the family of grasses! Of the nineteen bamboo poles below, 18 belong to the phyllostachys species, while the second from right is a chimonobambusa quadrangularis.
Apart from bamboo, the garden is host to many other plants. The planting below looked spectacular at the time of my visit!
In 2000, a Japanese garden called ‘The Valley of the Dragon’ was opened. The fall colours were absolutely perfect when I visited!
Another bamboo tunnel opened to a small clearing, where the house of the park’s guardian stood.
In front of the house there were some stands of smaller bamboo – I could almost see the one on the left in my garden! 🙂
A path led from there to an area which was dedicated to aquatic plants. The basins were planted with water lillies, papyrus, lotus and many more plants whose names I was not familiar with!
A giant wisteria covered a most beautiful pergola. I’m sure that would look spectacular when in bloom!
Below is a stand of phyllostachys sulfureus with some yellow maple leaves.
And this was the entrance to the bamboo maze!! It was great!!! I did get a bit lost in there!! 🙂
The way out led through a tunnel made from bamboo, and into the garden centre, where all kinds of bamboo were available to be bought.
I am so pleased that I finally got to visit this amazing garden – it is only two hours from Saint-Chinian by car!
La Bambouseraie is open from March until mid November and you’ll need half a day to visit all of the garden. Have a look at the website for more details.