What better way to start the two-week Toussaint half-term holidays than with an outing. We’re long overdue one. We all seem to have had our noses to the grindstone without a break for ages now. So it was timely that the Arboretum de la Sédelles was having a special weekend do. So Chris, Ruadhri and I got organised and headed off once the usual farm chores were done.
The Arboretum is about forty minutes away. It was a pleasant drive, even despite Betty the satnav taking us off the main road onto smaller and smaller roads for no clear reason. She has a bit of a habit of taking the least obvious route somewhere. However, we found Sédelles, parked in the meticulously well organised parking area (backing in only for our row) and joined the queue.
We got there around half an hour after it opened so for it to busy already early on a Saturday was a good sign. It would clearly be chaos when the majority of French people emerged after dinner, especially on Sunday. A big plant sale was going on just beyond the entry tent and that seems to be the main magnet of the weekend. I’d initially thought perhaps the arboretum was only open this weekend but it turns out it’s open from 1st May to 31st October, Thursdays to Mondays 2pm to 6pm. So remember that. Entry is €5 for adults (under 15s free) but for this special weekend it was… €6! Yup, more expensive. Interesting marketing ploy there. Actually, I imagine the extra was to cover all the extra organisation costs and it was money well spent. (Since 1993 a local asso has been running these open weekends in May and October.)
We Daggs always need our elevenses, so I’d brought emergency bananas and juice along (sometimes French dos take ages to get going). However, the refreshments tent was in full swing so we had homemade myrtille (blueberry) muffins, coffee and home-pressed apple juice. What a great start.
Then we hit the arboretum. There was a nice welcome. These wooden letters, held together by glue and cable ties, are just one example of someone’s creativity as there are plenty more wood and metal ornaments tucked away here and there. Objet trouvé (literally found object) describes art that is created from items not usually considered to be artistic. The items can be modified, but not disguised.
The arboretum is situated on a long, thinnish area of private land that stretches quite steeply down to the River Creuse. It took us around an hour to walk around, to give you an idea of size. The terrain was a little slippy in places so you need good boots. It’s carefully laid out with an oak prairie, a valley of charmes (trees in the birch family), a pond, a formal garden, a dogwood garden, the river itself and la lande à bruyère (the land where heather grows).
You also get wolves in that part of the arboretum.
And large lizards.
Not to mention fairies.
There were many acers of various types, a lot from China and Japan, and the arboretum is an official conservatoire for this species.
We resisted the temptation to wipe our noses on the Chinese tissue tree!
I have to say, we loved it. Rors was completely absorbed by all the different trees and he was busy picking up acorns and other seeds he found en route. A conservationist in the making!
We’ll be coming a lot more often now that we’ve finally discovered this humble treasure.
We finished the visit with a browse around the stalls. Rors bought a cactus and sampled some free samples of local varieties of apples, which I’ll blog about separately. I bought a fig tree, which I’ve wanted for ages, and Chris opted for a myrtille bush.
A very successful and enjoyable outing.
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