The story of the garden began in 1897 when a Parisian businessman, Georges Delaselle, visited the island and was captivated by the exotic plants brought there by sailors. He decided to create his own exotic garden and in 1918 moved permanently to the island. As so often happens, on his death the gardens gradually fell into disrepair and were only rescued in 1987 with the formation of the Friends and the support of the Conservatoire du Littoral. Today there are more than 2,500 species in the garden, from five continents.
‘…The project then begins in the 1970s with the idea to create the first world botanical garden dedicated to the conservation of endangered plants – Jean-Yves Lesouëf The gardens were built in the Stang Alar Valley, previously a rubbish dump and quarry.
‘…The most precious treasures in the Botanical Conservatory Garden are found in tropical greenhouses: the largest concentration in France of endangered plants! …In the 1,000 m² of this area of discovery, 95% of plants are threatened with extinction, some of them are extinct in nature. That is to say, they can no longer be found here or in other botanical gardens and conservatories…’ – what a frightening thought.
The Greenhouses lead visitors through different climatic regions of the world: from the wet tropical mountains –
to subtropical oceanic islands –
through the dry tropics –
and out through the wet and steaming tropical rain forests.
The gardens themselves are stunning and there were lots of people just wandering, sitting, running, photographing and generally enjoying the transformation of a ‘derelict’ valley into a peaceful and beautiful park.
The Gunneras were amazing, growing along the River, as were the tree ferns, the bamboos, and the magnolias. It was all beautiful.
Above all there are numerous unusual and beautiful trees.
Brest Conservatoire National Botanique