Yves, the eco-gardener of the marshlands

Now let’s head for Hoscas a small hamlet near Herbignac in the heart of the Regional Natural Park of La Brière.  To meet Yves who can be described as an eco-maverick but who is, above all else, an excellent GARDENER! 
Yves, the eco-gardener of the marshlands
It’s been some 40 years now that Yves has made his garden the place where he spends most of his time.  For 20 of those years, he has welcomed with a smile on his face and his own brand of good humour, a whole range of people to this magical place: the curious, those passionate about horticulture or those simply passing through La Briere…

We take the long dirt path which leads us to Les Jardins du Marais from the main road which links St-Lyphard to La Chapelle-des-Marais. Yves and a visiting friend are sat there waiting in the shade.  They invite us to come and join them.  Soon a small group of horticultural enthusiasts show up for a visit.
“Ok let’s start with the usual questions:  where do you come from and how did you find out about this garden?” Yves likes to keep his statistics updated and uses this as a starting point for the ensuing conversations with the visitors.  He then takes us into his ‘world’, the one he shared with his wife for some 40 years, a journey made by ecological militants and lovers of nature

“When we first arrived here, we couldn’t even tell the difference between a leek and a carot!  Maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration but you get the idea!  In truth it’s by gardening that we become gardeners!”  According to Yves a gardener is like “the conductor of the orchestra of nature”.  Whose musical score is ‘written in the forest’.  It is thus, through poetry, that we discover this beautiful place, sat in the very middle of the garden
Jardins des Marais in Herbignac
Yves shows us around his 13000 m² of garden cultivated on a marshy area of land which includes : a vegetable garden, an ornamental garden, an experimental garden and even a small wood. We glance upwards, goodness me!  There’s a wind turbine!  Indeed !  They have been generating their own electricity for 30 years now using:  wind turbine and solar panels.

Yves does everything in his power to respect the environment.  He sees it as his duty to share this motivation with his visitors.  His garden is located in an extremely ‘fragile’ zone 3.50 m above sea level, an area which is highly prone to flooding.  
 

Off to the vegetable garden!

Vegetable garden of the Jardins des Marais in Herbignac
We get to choose a straw hat from Yves’ amazing collection and head for the vegetable garden for a short lesson in gardening.  We get advice, demonstrations on the use of various tools, explanations…the visitors hang-on to his every word!

“Along this alley we’ve have carrots and leeks planted alongside each other.  Vegetables are a bit like human beings some go better together than others!”

Yves and Annick’s objective by creating this vegetable garden was to be self-sufficient for their food production, without having to rely on others.  Most important of all, this is done with the respect of nature firmly at the centre of the process ie:  zero fertilizers, zero pesticides, and without the use of motorized implements!
 

Come and discover the gardens

Having revealed to us a few of the secrets of his vegetable garden, Yves now gives us some tips on how to best discover the gardens which he invites us to wander around at our leisure :  the alleys lined with roses, the azaleas….he provides us with directions so that we can find our way around in the dense vegetation.  This garden is a veritable ‘feast’ for our senses…the colours and the perfumes generously given by the hydrangeas and more than 200 varieties of roses, bamboos and white foxgloves …

“July-August it’s at its best here, the apotheosis if you like!  Not so much for the colours but for the density of the plants.  Generally speaking in the summer, with the heat, plants tend to shrink away.  Here in the marshlands they blossom and reach their full potential, it’s a magnificent sight to behold!”
 
  • Aeonium arboreum, Gardens of the Marshlands' flowers in Herbignac
  • Straw hat - les Jardins des Marais in Herbignac
  • Flowers of the Jardins des Marais in Herbignac
  • Rose of the Jardins des Marais in Herbignac
  • Rose of the Jardins des Marais in Herbignac
  • Jardins des Marais in Herbignac
  • Jardins des Marais in Herbignac
  • Flowers of the Jardins des Marais in Herbignac
  • The vegetable garden, the Jardins des Marais in Herbignac
  • Flowers of the Jardins des Marais in Herbignac
  • Overview - Jardin des Marais ŕ Herbignac
  • Overview - Jardin des Marais ŕ Herbignac
If you’d like to discover les Jardins du Marais then head off towards Herbignac.  They are open every day from 15h00 to 20h00 from April to the end of October.   There’s no need to book, just pop over to the gardens on a day to suit you.  To really discover all there is to be seen in the gardens in Yves’ company allow at least 2h for your visit.  Enjoy!