Friday, April 30, 2021

Bluebell Magic...

Making the most of a morning off, I decided to go for a walk around one of the city parks. I used to call this the 'Flowery' one, as the others are, or rather were, disappointingly limited in their floral arrangements - with few, rather meagre flower beds compared to what you generally find in the grounds of the average English public green space, be that a park or garden.
However, things have vastly improved and the 'Flowery Park' is now one of several, all offering beautiful displays throughout a large part of the year. Nevertheless, as we enter Spring after a long winter, these bluebells seemed to create the most breathtaking, wholly unexpected vision.
In fact, its real title is the Jardin Pierre Schneiter, in honour of the rémois politician and mayor (1905-1979), also president of the French national horticultural society. I am not sure how the area was referred to prior to that during its long history, and municipal information is somewhat thin on the ground, so to speak. However, until 1841, it was part of the rather quaintly-named Parc de la Patte d'Oie - literally 'goose foot' or more accurately 'crow's feet', in English translation, as this indicates a meeting point of several lines (or wrinkles!) or actual alleys/roads.
The park in question, created in 1733, is a prolongation of other green spaces - Les Promenades - and includes both converging lines and paths which criss-cross its entirety. These lead to strategic focal points whilst the site itself now culiminates in a major highway and the Centre des Congrès, and is bordered by a series of other busy roads with heavy traffic, day and night.
When the route, now known as Boulevard Roederer, was laid down in the mid 19th century, a separate green space was formed, the current Jardin Schneiter. This served to house the school garden and later the Société d'Horticulture de Reims in a Neoclassical building. Le Trianon still stands today in what is referred as the 'French' part of the grounds. There are a fine collection of trees throughout the entire space, with magnificent specimens of the Fau de Verzy - the dwarf beech, with its spectacular long, twisted boughs.... and of course the flowerbeds themselves.
Rock gardens, ponds and waterfalls designed by landscape gardener Édouard Redont go to make up the 'English' section. The beds are presented in themes and colour, to great effect but I had the greatest joy to come across this hidden thicket of bluebells, just as I was leaving the grounds. Although not the wild variety, in that distinctive mesmerizing colour, these were like a magical apparition nonetheless, with their pale lilac flowers, all the more enchanting given the noisy backdrop of congested roads, with traffic thundering past! The perfection of Nature, even its cultivated form...

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