A French garden exported to Taiwan for an unusual garden exhibition!

French association "Nantes is a garden" takes part in the Taiwan Floral Festival to promote French regional landscaping know-how.

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The French association Nantes est un jardin (Nantes is a garden) went to Asia last fall to take part in the Taiwan Floral Festival to promote French regional landscaping know-how on another continent. This project gave rise to an atypical landscape planning - we wanted to find out more about this original green space design so we talked to the association’s President, Christophe Cozette.

Meet Nantes est un jardin's team! From left to right: Yohann Bouvier, Christophe Cozette, Laurence Rabiller, Matthieu Théaudin, Olivier Hamon and Pedro.

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“Nantes est un jardin” exists to conserve the landscape’s heritage and help everyone involved

Based in Nantes, France, this association set up two years ago promotes local landscapes and gardens, helps everyone involved in landscaping, runs training programmes in all landscaping trades and conserves know-how. Currently there are 50 members - landscape designers, gardeners, horticulturists, teachers, botanists and even artists - all volunteers often working in companies involved in landscape planning and the art of gardens!

“We started by promoting landscapes to local residents. Then we extended our activities outside the area, and even to the whole of France. We took part in the “Jardins, Jardin” show at the Tuileries in Paris under the name of the “Caravan from Nantes”. We also meet requests from abroad” Christophe Cozette told us. A good example of their missionary zeal is that in October 2018 the association flew to Taiwan to present a garden at the Taichung World Flora Exposition!

Promoting Nantes’ heritage landscapes in Taiwan

The Taichung World Flora Exposition is open from November 3, 2018 to April 24, 2019. It invites visitors to get back in touch with Nature and features a section dedicated to international gardens. For that, this garden exhibition provides over 30 plots of ground so that countries can create a garden in the image of their country to a set theme. This year, visiting countries include Chile, Germany, England and the Netherlands. France has two plots.

“Taichung invited our association and the city of Nantes to the exhibition a year ago. Our mayor was very interested in the project and gave us a recommendation. The city of Nantes, represented by its Director of green spaces Jacques Soignon and Fabienne Padovani, the Elected Deputy Mayor responsible for Green Spaces, took part in the unveiling of our garden in Taichung” says Christophe Cozette.

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The garden project of Nantes est un jardin

Our idea was to propose a “Nantes garden” with a host of trees and colors to create a very enjoyable place. 6 of us went to Taiwan to create this 300sq.m. garden – Pedro, a street-artist very well-known in our region, two municipal carpenters, the director of a green spaces company and two landscape designers. We built a 4-meter high eel out of wood which we painted in situ and composed our sinuous garden around it which itself looks like an eel when seen from the sky. — Christophe Cozette.

You can see two-thirds of the garden from the front end but the Nantes est un jardin team reserved a small surprise for everyone bold enough to go inside - a bar dissimulated in tropical vegetation and several joke effects dispatched all over this landscape planning project. For the occasion, a dedicated Facebook page was created to follow this garden's news.

Focus on the wooden eel

An original project given a friendly welcome by the organizers, confirms Christophe Cozette: “We proposed an amusing garden which made people smile. Feedback is very positive!”

The technical challenges of this garden

In addition to the design, this garden exhibition was a huge technical challenge for association members. As all members are volunteers with jobs to manage in France, they only had 10 days to execute their green space design from beginning to end on the plot they were allocated.

A challenge met by the Nantes est un jardin team but not without difficulties, Christophe Cozette told us: “We had a 300sq.m. plot with, in front of it, the remains of a former military camp in which tanks were stored in bunkers. The soil was a challenge in itself being extremely compact and full of rubble. And the local Taiwanese team did not speak much English, which complicated things even more. On the other hand, the local nurseries were top quality with super plants – although we really had to search for them in lots of very odd places!”

Are you familiar with the oldest gardens still alive in the world?

Open for 6 months, this garden exhibition expects 10 million visitors attracted by these original landscape planning projects. And for everyone wanting to promote their know-how in France, the Carré des Jardiniers 2019 garden contest at Paysalia, Lyon, is a must! 

Our thanks to Christophe Cozette, President of Nantes est un jardin, for his contribution.


© Photo credit: Nantes est un jardin

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