Perhaps the best place to start is in the building which the official literature calls “The Botanic City”. This is essentially an enormous eco-friendly greenhouse where a Mediterranean climate is steadily maintained day in, day out. Shrubs, plants, palms, cacti and fruit-trees from Mediterranean and Australasian climes (all requiring little water) can be viewed at close quarters... while my favourite features are the giant magnifying glasses (such as the one pictured at the top of the article) which enable visitors to have a particularly close look at flowers and some scary carnivorous plants which you feel might snap your finger off if given the chance.
Elsewhere, the “Vertical Garden” comprises a wide range of creepers which each have their own way of ascending towards the sun. Some of the climbing plants have their own metal frames to aid development while others utilise the garden’s perimeter fence, which is entirely made of wood recovered from the Charente region after the devastating storm of December 1999.
At the end of the pathway is an extensive water feature, the “Aquatic Garden” which, aptly enough, comprises different types of aquatic plants ranging from species which are medicinal to others which are fragrant or simply decorative. Of course, there are plenty of fish to spot in the pond… although there may have been one or two less by the time the heron pictured below had flown away.
- Find it: Esplanade Linné, Bordeaux.