The Jardin des Plantes of Nantes

The Jardin des Plantes of Nantes

Nantes' Jardin des Plantes is one of France’s big four botanical gardens. Stretching over more than 17 acres in the centre of the city, it is home 10,000 living species and sees 50,000 flowers planted each season. No wonder it has earned it the title of 'Jardin Remarquable’ !

 

Jardin des Plantes Nantes garden



A garden steeped in history
 
Nantes is a port city, and the history of the Jardin des Plantes owes as much to the ships and sailors who docked here as it does to botanical adventurers.

Initially founded as the Royal Garden of Medicinal Plants in 1635, it was expanded in the early 18th century to hold plants brought back from foreign lands. (Louis XV decreed that all ship’s captains must bring back plants and seeds from their travels overseas.) Scientists came to study these plants and artists catalogued each one in illustrated books, known as Herbiers, thus spreading botanical knowledge.

 

Jardin des Plantes Nantes garden greenhouse

 

Glorious Greenhouses

There are 800 sqm of greenhouses here. The oldest is the Palmarium, dating from 1895. Formerly dedicated to plants from Martinique and Gabon, it is now a laboratory devoted to tropical ecology. Highlights include lianas - long-stemmed, herbaceous or woody vines - from the equatorial forests of Asia and Africa. 

Magnolias & 1,000 varieties of Camellias

As well as the 1,000 varieties of Camellias that frame almost the entire garden along its outer walk, the Jardin des Plantes is famous for its magnolias. In 1711,  Europe’s first Magnolia grandiflora tree -  Magnolia ‘d'Hectot’ - was brought back to Nantes from the Americas. It has flourished here ever since, and the garden is now home to the French national Magnolia collection.

 

Jardin des Plantes Nantes garden