La Roche Jagu: The 7 Best Practices Of An Ecological Garden

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In the Cotes d'Armor, the Domaine de la Roche Jagu now covers 63 hectares, with intensive gardens (gardens, botanical collections) or extensive gardens (heaths, meadows, marshes).

In the north of Brittany, overlooking the estuary of the Trieux, the Roche Jagu area - in Breton, the crying rock - owes its name to a rocky spur dripping water, on which stands a castle. When in 1987, a great storm puts down the valley at the foot of the fortress, medieval remains appear: with the help of landscape architect Betrand Paulet, the estate then builds on these historic traces to rebuild, without ever losing view of the environment. Thirty years later, the efforts of the team and its five gardeners are greeted by the award of EcoJardin label : "What characterizes the Roche Jagu is the mosaic of landscapes that compose it, a puzzle of distinct spaces, with a great diversity of fauna and flora," explains Solenne Le DĂ», responsible for the ecological management of the estate. Discovery of a complex patchwork, between a garden of medieval inspiration and a collection of camellias along wild heaths and bushy forests.

Natural pools

At Roche Jagu, the pools are natural and are distributed throughout the site, so that animals can circulate. The ponds are not tiled, but covered with clay. As for their filling, you have to be patient: "We dug them in November, but they are still empty: we're just waiting for the rain!" The water bodies all have different depths, so as to accommodate different species on the estate.

Naturally grazed moors

More mowers: forty goat ditches, and here sylvatic ewes, now browse the lands of the park.

The heaths of Roche Jagu are sloping and covered with thorny gorse. Tender to garden for the man, they are now the playground of a herd of goats and their shepherd: "It's an interview without noise or machines: we go back to old practices that have existed in Brittany for a very long time, andput on a complementary work between man and animals. " Example with ferns, that the shepherd flap over the passage of the flock, because the sheep do not like to graze them.

Shelters for small wildlife

A medieval-inspired park, in a natural site: if the gardens of La Roche Jagu have the particularity to be closed, which protects them from the domestic animals, they nevertheless welcome a small very rich fauna, favored by the techniques of management of the field.

If insect hotels have been set up all over the site, they are especially there to make the walker aware: "The essential is based on small things, that the visitor does not necessarily notice at the first visit, fagots of wood or even piles of dry stones." Near the hedges or ponds, these natural shelters welcome insects, which nest in the dead wood, but also amphibians, which hide under the branches or rocks, out of sight.

Honey vegetation

Digitale, robert grass, benoite, the "weeds" grow with a view of the castle, and host a wide variety of insects.

There are few ornamental plants at La Roche Jagu, where the plant palette is based on a selection of local plants: "We let the region's flowering plants grow naturally over large areas of grassland: they have an aesthetic, spontaneous, abundant appearance, but they are also useful because they are often tall plants that attract insects."With their large inflorescences, fennel and queen of the meadows are therefore the joy of pollinators on the lookout for nectar, from butterflies to bees.

Slopes with differentiated management

Leaving areas of grassed banks, the five gardeners preserve ecological corridors essential to fauna and flora.

In terms of biodiversitythere is nothing worse than uniformity: "Until 2015, we were cutting our slopes in the same way, and since 2016, we have been dividing this linear into different spaces, leaving a wild part whatever the time." Important for animals, these corridors of circulation are henceforth never interrupted: amphibians and rodents find there and whatever the season many nooks and crannies, where they can walk under cover of visitors, but also predators!

An old kitchen garden

The seigniorial garden is characterized by its closed plantations by wooden palisades, its cut trees and its tree paths.

If the garden of La Roche Jagu was invented from scratch, his drawing is inspired by gardens of the Middle Ages. Raised plantations, hedges of thorns, for a design as pretty as intelligent, and which hosts plantations whose choice was made on the basis of the Capitulaire de Villis: this list of vegetable plants, which dates back to medieval times, served as a basis for varietal selection. No potatoes, but beans or cabbages. On the fruit side, all you have to do is eat in Pontrieux Pippin, an old and local variety.

A collection of plants adapted to the climate

Few horticultural plants, except a collection of camellias: acclimatized in Brittany for more than two centuries, this genus native of Asia is fond of the soils of Brittany, granite and acid, as well as the mild climate, so much so that it has become emblematic of the region. "In terms of management, they therefore require very little monitoring, and they consume little water." More than 1000 plants and 350 varieties succeed each other along a shady path, lit by their bright red, pink and white flowers.

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