This lovely park is situated right in the heart of Rennes, the capital city of the Bretagne region of France. It's one of my favourite places and in my opinion it ranks alongside the greats in terms of botanical spaces. It doesn't have any glasshouses but in a relatively small space it packs in everything else that a city park and botanical garden could possibly offer. What's more, it's free!
It has a fabulous orangery overlooking a beautiful formal French garden. Right now the spring bedding is coming to an end and the tulips are mostly over, but I rather like the way it is so colourful and has gone a bit wild.
Soon this bedding will make way for the summer bedding. In a formal garden like this I enjoy seeing bedding plants displayed colourfully.
How can anyone not like the following bed? It's simple and stunning and would have been amazing when the tulips were open.
Despite an army of gardeners working full time here, I rather like seeing that their perfect 'pelouse anglaise' can run away with them sometimes and is full of daisies!
The buildings are stunning too.
There are large open spaces of lawns with majestic trees in the parkland section which is quite large and covers an area I didn't photograph, and there's a steep hill down towards the rue de Paris entrance where a duck pond with various captive species is located. The park also has an aviary. The wild bird life here is relatively tame as they are so used to people wandering about.
But my favourite area is the botanical section, which also encompasses the most amazing rose garden I have ever seen. This will be at its best from June onwards.
This part of the rose garden is looking a bit green now but won't be for long and there is a large area nearby dedicated to every dahlia in every colour under the sun, which is a complete riot come August and September! I am intrigued by the building in the background which I believe to be a college but I can't find out any information about it - it doesn't look very French to me!
The botanical section is laid out in a large circle with four pathways leading to a central pond. Within the circle it has been cleverly laid out so that you can walk up and down all the paths and each section is dedicated to different plant families. What's special about this garden is that they have not just the cultivated varieties of particular plant families but also the 'weeds' or wild flowers related to them. So for example there will be the Cranesbill Geraniums that we know as garden plants like in the following photo....
... right next to the ones we probably all recognise as weeds. I see a missing Geranium molle - I have plenty here they could have! They are all over my garden - beautiful wildflowers in my wild places and a nuisance weed in my cultivated patches! There are even stinging nettles featured in this botanical garden although I can't remember what plant family they relate to. As you can see, everything is labelled and it's been useful to me for identifying certain plants in my garden.
All around this area there are the most stunning villas, and each seem to be in a completely different style. The greenery on the posts and swags is climbing roses and this will soon look just amazing.
God knows there is some serious real estate round here but it just adds to the visual experience!
The pond in the middle of the circular botanical section.
On the other side there is a less formal bedding area with some really pretty spring flowers, and then the azaleas. It's rhododendron and azalea time and this garden doesn't lack for these either.
Possibly both of the trees, but definitely the one on the left (as that's the one I was looking at later), are cork oaks. They are so different from our common oak, Quercus robur, not just the bark but the leaves too. A fascinating tree.
Into the less formal part with a mix of annual, biennial and perennial plantings, and extremely colourful.
These are Icelandic poppies and I want some!
And now back past the French garden again towards the entrance near the church, where the main rhododendron walk is. In a week or so this will be very colourful.
The plants getting more light are already in full bloom.
The park also has a cafe, but this is currently closed as it undergoes renovations. I believe it is going to be made into a brasserie which will be accessible from the street side when the park is closed, so open for evening meals too. The cafe was fine for a drink before but somewhat lacking in the eating stakes, but it didn't really matter as there are so many restaurants within 5-10 mins walking distance of here.
One final photo, on the walk towards the Saint Melanie church and car park. There are many horse chestnut trees in the park and many were affected last year by the leaf miner which is attacking these trees with a vengeance. I'm glad to see they have come back fine this spring.
I hope you have enjoyed this armchair walk around one of my favourite gardens. There's a wealth of information about the park and its history on Wikipedia in French or a brief paragraph in English!