Le jardin des cinq sens (Yvoire)

Medieval garden

The Jardin des Cinq Sens is the realization of the project of Anne-Monique and Yves d'Yvoire, who decided in the 1980s to give the family castle a garden like it had had in the past. A true contemporary creation inspired by medieval aesthetics, the Jardin des Cinq Sens has managed to integrate into its Alpine context and harmonize with the built heritage that surrounds it, the village of Yvoire on the edge of Lake Geneva. Now mature, the Garden of the Five Senses promises its visitors a unique synesthetic experience.

Label Jardin Remarquable

The spirit of the Middle Ages garden

No medieval garden has survived to our contemporary times. We know it thanks to literature, paintings, illuminations or even thanks to tapestries, but also thanks to the archeology of gardens, which tells us about the dimensions of the plots, as well as the nature of the plantations, the material fences, on the type of decor, etc. At this time, gardens are spaces surrounded by stone walls or plant fences for the purpose of protection against attacks from the outside: war, theft or wild animals. The garden is thus perceived as a place of security, nourishing for the body and a source of rest for the soul. The medieval hortus conclusus is of modest dimensions, with a simple plan; Most of the time, it is a square subdivided by two perpendicular paths into four squares and decorated in its center with a fountain. This simplicity is only apparent because the medieval garden is not devoid of complexity, quite the contrary.in. This place is imbued with strong symbolism, starting with the evocation of the mythical Garden of Eden itself divided into four by the two rivers which irrigate it. In addition, there is for example sage, from the Latin salvia, the plant that saves the soul and the body, there are also orchards planted in cemeteries, thus recalling the unwavering link between life and death but especially the perpetual victory of life. The garden has always been associated with the labyrinth, either because it is designated as a labyrinth or because it contains one. The labyrinth motif was very present in the Middle Ages. It is an ambivalent space, which inspires fear and pleasure, one not existing without the other. It has many symbols: the journey through the labyrinth is an evocation of the path of life; it is also the place of the initiatory journey, strewn with sometimes mortal dangers, which leads to the center of the labyrinth, where the pilgrim accesses religious or philosophical revelation; it is also synonymous with getting lost and surpassing oneself possible thanks to self-awareness through the use of the 5 senses.

Let's walk through a plant labyrinth

The Garden of the Five Senses of Yvoire is designed like a labyrinth containing labyrinths. The visitor’s journey echoes the initiatory journeys of the Middle Ages and the beginning of the Renaissance that we can read in Dante’s Divine Comedy or Francesco Colonna’s Dream of Poliphile. In these novels, the protagonist walks from the flower-strewn plain, through the black forest, to then enter a labyrinth or maze garden. From this journey, he learns a lot about himself (microcosm) and the universe (macrocosm).
Thus, at the entrance to the plant labyrinth, the walker from Yvoire finds himself immersed in a familiar nature, that of the alpine meadow. This picturesque space is a sort of botanical conservatory of local flora; Edelweiss, gentians, martagon lilies, saxifrages associated with other rock plants flourish there according to the seasons on either side of the stream. Then comes the time to get lost in the undergrowth. Under the thick shade of the lime trees, there are 45 species of ferns mixed with shade plants.

Coming out of the forest, a new spirit takes shape. Like a transition between wild nature and the next orderly gardens, lies the Weaving. This intertwining of white rose bushes and eternal oats is the symbol of harmony between man and Nature. The walker then enters a green room which turns out to be a plant cloister identifiable by its bower arcades, its four squares planted with medicinal plants and the fountain in its center. From this haven of peace, a feeling of serenity emerges.

The awakening of the senses

Calmed, the visitor is now ready to tackle the second part of the visit: the gardens of the 5 senses. Behind the hornbeam hedges and the 88 trained apple trees, the Garden of Taste is revealed and recalls the utilitarian role of the medieval garden. The pattern of squares evokes that of the chessboard, a highly symbolic motif in the Middle Ages which connotes the fight between good and evil, between vice and virtue, against a backdrop of strategy. Here, the visitor’s sense of taste is aroused by the palette of vegetables, fruits and edible flowers, familiar or forgotten. The smaller dimensions of the Jardin de l’Odorat contain a concentration of fragrances. Smell is the sense favored by the Middle Ages because it is the seat of memory; a smell of mint, apple, rose or more original, curry, chewing gum, cola, chocolate or strawberry, revives memories. The path then leads into the garden of touch. Plants are perceived as having a smell, a color, a taste but they also have textures. Dare to place your hand on the spiciness of the thistle, touch the soft oval lagura, feel the serrations of certain leaves, etc. The garden of touch is followed by the garden of Sight, a luxuriance of blues, embellished with delicate white and purple touches. The visitor is immersed in an abundance of cosmos flowers, lavender, nigella flowers, veronica, toad lilies, alliums, rose bushes… Like the soundtrack of the film of the journey through the gardens of the 5 senses, the song of the birds mixed with the melodious flow of water accompanies each discovery of the visitor because at the center of the plant labyrinth, stands the aviary and its essential circular fountain.

More than an invitation, the Jardin des Cinq Sens d’Yvoire is an incentive to stroll. Transported into a plant dream, the walker (re)discovers the universe, (re)awakens his senses, to finally (re)discover himself.

Le Jardin des Cinq Sens (Yvoire)

Rue du Lac
74140 Yvoire

Tel : +33 4 50 72 88 80 : +33 (0)4 50 72 88 80
(10 a.m. to 6 p.m.)

Events to come