Biodiversity in the garden
Urban spread and artificial soils, intensive agriculture, global warming, deterioration of a wide range of ecosystems: the threats weighing on our environment are many and varied. If we want to oppose them, we need to encourage virtuous initiatives. Here is a quick tour of the gardens in Touraine where biodiversity is followed closely.
The Château de Villandry gardens
The move to organic methods in the Villandry gardens dates from 2009. Ten years on, the team of gardeners have made the new working methods their own. When they stopped using pesticides, a whole host of insects moved in to the vegetable garden, in particular. So to keep the number of aphids and cabbage flies under control, auxiliary insects were introduced.
Bee hives have also been set up, and some tools replaced. To conserve micro-organism activity in the upper 10 to 15 centimetres of the soil, the broadfork is now used in preference to the traditional spade. The soil needs to be turned over a little more often, but the effort is rewarded by greater watering efficiency. All these initiatives provide a welcome setting for a wide range of birds. Since 2012, Villandry has been part of the Bird Protection League network of refuges. The royal château of Amboise has now followed suit.
Biodiversity in the garden of the Château du Rivau
When the Rivau gardens were laid out in 1995, indigenous plants were always preferred. They naturally attract fauna preying on garden pests. Pollinating insects were also taken into account when making selections. Simple flowers were chosen in preference to garden hybrids. And the bee hives in the Rivau gardens are very active, too!
In these fairytale gardens, the Gargantua vegetable garden is filled with Touraine pumpkins and Berry sucrine lettuce. They are part of the Vegetable Conservatory, maintaining the tradition of native vegetables. And we shouldn’t forget the collection of 450 perfumed roses, labelled by the Conservatory of Specialised Plant Collections.
The national tomato conservatory at the Château de la Bourdaisière
Near the Montlouis-sur-Loire wine region, 700 varieties of tomatoes flourish in the park at the Château de la Bourdaisière. This is a unique collection that has expanded over time with donations from all over the world. The collection highlights the natural riches of our planet and the importance of preserving biodiversity. The cherry on the cake: you can enjoy the taste of this fruit (because a fruit contains the seeds of the plant, unlike vegetables) on site… at the tomato bar!
A different plant, but the same aim: 5000 tubers from 400 varieties of Dahlias go to make a very colourful garden called “Dahliacolor”. We should also mention an experimental micro-farm applying the principles of agroecology since 2013. Guided visits are specially organised twice a month.
Château de Valmer gardens
Centuries-old arborescent peonies, wisteria, rose bushes, pink and white tobacco plants, blue sage, dahlias, anthemis, spider flowers, busy Lizzies, irises, beeblossom, narcissus, santolina, rosemary, California lilacs, daffodils, geraniums, daylilies, fennel flowers, nasturtiums… But also peaches, nectarines, apricots, figs, Asian pears, apples and pears, redcurrants, blackcurrants, jostaberries, gooseberries and raspberries!
There is no shortage of plants and trees to see here, for the delight of visitors strolling along the avenues of the Château de Valmer. After their walk, they can enjoy the wines from the château estate, which make a proud contribution to the reputation of Vouvray AOC wines.
The village-garden of Chédigny, the flower garden at the Château de Chenonceau, the Saint-Cosme Priory, and the square French-style vegetable garden in Chinon: Touraine has a rich range of gardens helping to maintain biodiversity. When you visit them, you will be helping to make them economically sustainable!