Whilst inevitably not an exact reconstruction of the original, the Eden Garden at Colombier is the result of meticulous research. Following studies of iconographic sources (e.g. the ‘Lady and the Unicorn’ tapestries), manuscripts (e.g. the Carolingian work ‘Capitulaire de Villis’) and many other works, a detailed plan was made for the form and contents of the garden. But before that, Alain Richert, helped by students of the Horticultural School of Rignac, cleared the ground and rebuilt in the local style the dry stone walls and elliptical stone arches. The overriding aim was to recreate as closely as possible a garden of the type that existed at manor houses in the Middle Ages.
the mediaeval garden
the "colombier chateau and wildlife park"
is, in the words of Annabelle de La Panouse , "a love story, a thunderbolt which stimulated my imagination and galvanised me into action ! " When she discovered the existence of the Château du Colombier in the family’s estate and saw it for the first time, she pondered long and hard on every possibility of how to restore it. Though only the walls remained to show where the garden had been, at the foot of the mediaeval dungeon, she was determined to bring it back to life. Once completed, the garden was to play an integral role in presenting the daily life and lifestyle of the Middle Ages in the Colombier project. To help her in this huge undertaking, Annabelle La Panouse chose her friend Alain Richert, a well known landscape architect, botanist and writer, who was already helping her with the restoration of the gardens at the Chateau de Thoiry, and whose previous work (such as the Garden of 5 senses at the Chateau d'Yvoire) was very much to her taste.
Today, the Eden Garden contains within its walls 350 species of plants, trees and shrubs in 5 different styles of garden: the Garden of Curiosities, the Carpet of a Thousand Flowers, the Garden of References, the Orchard, and the Games Square. The garden illustrates the evolution of the history of gardens in the West from the time of Charlemagne to the 15th century. Annabelle La Panouse has added other creations to complement and extend the story of the garden of Colombier. The courtly love maze, the wisteria pergola and plum tree walkways, magnolias and mulberry trees express this continuity of the garden. As for the rose garden and the peony rock garden, they present a view towards the chateau typical of gardens during the Renaissance.