This small garden brings together the basic plants used by society in Haute-Provence, the flora of towns and villages, domestic gardens, roadsides, cultivated fields and fallow pasture. These are the plants people see on the journeys they make day to day: between the stable and the pasture, and between the house and the school or wood.
This is where people gathered first-aid remedies and also field salad leaves and other wild vegetables. This is where children built new playthings each day. This is where older people passed on their knowledge, by both showing and telling.
The medieval garden
This garden is inspired by illuminated manuscripts, treatises on agriculture and medieval pharmacopoeia. It tells the story of plants in Western Europe before the discovery of the New World.
It is laid out in three major zones: the kitchen garden (plants grown for food), medicinal squares, the floral garden and the secret garden near the fountain.
A range of cereals (rye and wheat, spelt and millets) are used to make bread, groats and porridge. Pulses are rich in protein and are an important source of nutrition.
In the medicinal squares, five beds relate to the five medieval pathology and pharmacopoeia groups from the old classifications.
After the rose pergola, flowers used to decorate the altar are grouped together in the flower garden, together with plants used in weaving and dyeing. The other side of the fountain, in the secret garden, are the highly poisonous plants, from the days when medicine and magic were inextricably linked.
The modern garden
The modern garden is a journey through modern flora. It helps visitors understand the origins and history of vegetables, fruit and flowers, during the period when society moved slowly from a hunter-gatherer system to agriculture. It explains the role of plants in the progress made by societies, around the basic pairings of cereals and civilisations.
Each species in the garden links a continent and civilisations to the plants that helped it grow and develop:
- Europe and the Mediterranean basin (wheat, vines, olive trees, etc.)
- Sub-Saharan Africa (sorghum and millets, papyrus, etc.)
- Asia (rice, citrus fruits, spices, etc.)
- The Americas (maize, cucurbita, beans, etc.)
The fragrance garden
This is the latest of Salagon's gardens. The five sensory trails designed to awaken your sense of smell function all year round. To help you get the most out of the experience, pictograms are used to indicate which part of the plant produces the fragrance – leaf, flower, root, wood, sap, fruit or resin.
There is so much to learn in the fragrance garden. Find out how to recognise odours and describe them in words, learn how a perfume is composed (with the three registers: top, heart and base notes) and explore the botany of scent with a wide range of aromatic plants. You will even meet some odours, both good and bad, from day-to-day life, with plants that smell of garlic sausage, fish, popcorn, sweets, bins, tyres and bleach!
Ethnobotany is the area of ethnology that studies the relationship between people and the plants around them, from the most practical uses (medicine, food, making tools, etc.) through to the most symbolic ones (predicting the future, worshipping gods, etc.).
At Salagon, the aim is to explore ethnobotany within the study of societies and social practices, while using expert guides to help you gain a better understanding of the immaterial cultural heritage represented by the knowledge, skills and representations relating to plants.
Also worth a visit...
The noria garden: a cool, shady garden of restful pleasure inspired by medieval illuminated manuscripts. It features flowered lawns, flower beds, pergolas draped with honeysuckles, roses and jasmine.
The village garden: This garden is located close to the house, so that plants to be used fresh, as cut flowers or in cookery, are close at hand.
The aromatics and field flowers: a transitional landscape and an introduction to the detailed ethnobotany of gardens.
The salicetum: a collection of willows. Wicker was traditionally collected on the banks of Provence's rivers.
Salagon vineyard: the vineyard contains around fifty grape varieties, both table grapes and wine grapes. All have their significance for ancient and modern vineyard practices in Provence.
Fruit trees: once an important agricultural activity in Haute-Provence, fruit trees including mulberry, apple, pear and quince are to be found in the fields and orchard meadows on the outskirts of villages.
Traditional cereal fields: these conserve heirloom wheats, ryes, spelts and the flowers that grow among them, all of which are seen less and less often on large farms.