10 December 2008

Eze Village - the Jardin Exotique: the Plants

The gardens are beautifully laid out as you can see in the small 'plan' on the left.

Some plants, furry and spikey at the same time, are extraordinary. The plant in the foreground above is called Cleistocactus Strausii and originated from Bolivia and Argentina (see close-up below).

A plant is called a succulent when it stores water to withstand dryness. The Garden of Eze has succulents from Africa and America that are well-adapted to arid climates. The water is stored in the fleshy parts - mostly the leaves and stems. These plants developed tricks to limit evaporation: smooth skins, sometimes covered with wax, hairs and thorns, instead of leaves. Many succulent plants, cacti and sisal (agaves) in particular came to Europe at the time of the great Discoveries. The first cactus is believed to have been brought back by Christopher Columbus but it was not until the Renaissance that these plants were studied and understood.

The first sisal (agave) was imported in the XVIth century and when it blossomed, it was several metres high and was considered quite a marvel at the time. General Weber, a member of Maximilian of Austria's expeditionary force in 1865, was one of many to whom we owe the presence of agaves on the Riviera. Today, cacti, agaves, aloes and euphorbias are a fundamental part of the Riviera landscape.


Halcyon said...

I am sure the gardens are wonderful to stroll about in. I love reading and learned about the different types of plants. Beautiful!

Marie-Noyale said...

The last picture really looks like duvet...but I would not want to touch it!!

Virginia said...

Exotique for sure. DO NOT TOUCH that fluffy one. You will regret!

maria said...

Wow Jilly, thanks for today's very informative lesson!
In Peru we call these cacti "Silver Torch" and I believe they have beautiful red flowers.

Bob Crowe said...

I remember this place. My wife and I went over to Monaco once when we were staying in Nice. You hardly expect a gigantic botannical desert garden on the edge of the sea but it seems very natural. We got worn out climbing up and down those terraces on the steep hillside.

Anonymous said...

Ohhh you have outdone yourself! bravo for these pics how utterly breath taking! It's marvelous to enjoy reading about every one of the sections of the gardens. Each of which we truly think would be enjoyed immensely! The scenery off of those terraces out to the sea must be breath taking. Although surely the scenery alone would make the climbing of the terraces worthwhile with a b-i-g glass of water.
what a superb job on this collage of photos! a true favorite.

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