Initially a pastoral valley that had been abandoned for over 40 years, the arboretum as we know it today was recovered and nurtured into a unique example of a gardened landscape that extols the natural and agricultural spirit of its setting.
It is the cooperation of an enthusiastic couple, Philippe and Nell Wanty, that created this botanical environment open to the public since 2005. Tucked away in a small valley between Berry and Limousine, the Arboretum de la Sedelle is home to over 400 plant species over 6 hectares. Tamed, sculpted and planted by Philippe and Nell since 1987, the previously abandoned and over grown valley is now classed "Jardin Remarquable". The admirable collection of Maples and other botanical riches merge into the wooded countryside.
At the discretion of hedges, dry-stone walls, rocks and heath-land, the discovery of the gardens and its natural habitats form a harmonious ensemble where man's intervention complements nature.
IN THE VICINTY
Crozant, at the confluence of the Creuse and the Sedelle rivers, is rich in history and art.
Crozant with its spectacular feudal ruins, was once one of the most powerful strongholds in medieval France. One can visit the two remaining towers (10th and 13th century) which offer panoramic views of the valley below. This picturesque site inspired many painters during the 19th and 20th centuries, among them Claude Monet, Leon Detroy and Armand Guillaumin, and gave rise to the Crozant Impressionist Art Movement in 1864. Nohant, the residence of novelist Georges Sand (1804 - 1876), is 50 kilometres from Crozant. Georges Sand and her guests enjoyed the walks in the valleys of the Creuse and Crozant which are often mentioned in her novels.
Crozant, its rivers and valleys, remain unspoilt and timeless. Many well-maintained footpaths allow one to explore by foot, bicycle or horse. One can also explore the valley and the ruins of the Crozant fortress in a canoe or kayak hired from the Hotel de Lac near Crozant.
THE SEDELLE VALLEY
The Sedelle river, a tributary of the Creuse, is a pristine river with a rich diversity of fauna and flora.
A large part of the Sedelle valley is protected by Natura 2000. Wild trout abound, making it a paradise for fishermen. A calm river in summer and a raging torrent in winter the Sedelle is home to a diverse fauna including the discreet otter, kingfisher, dipper, crayfish, dragon fly and damsel fly. In spring the banks are covered with wild flowers and the protected royal fern
(Osmunda regalis) can also be seen.
The Arboretum runs down to the banks of the Sedelle River where visitors find a quiet place to appreciate the calm and peace of Mother Nature’s garden.
The subtle relation between the successive gardens and natural habitats of the valley accords a deep harmony and unity of the garden's composition.
Here the gardener gardens with nature for nature.
" But does this place not provide a more compelling reason that invites us to make the visit last? Every detail- the disposition of rocks and stones, the layout of the paths, , the light of the heath-land (how is this obtained?), even the accuracy of the plant labels , every carefully managed aspect of this garden encourages us to more than mere admiration. This is quite simply a place where people feel happy. The arrangement of everything here seems obvious, from the imposing curves of the hillside to the waters continual flow. Before we pass on to true wilderness, the garden fulfils its task: it provides a passage, almost an initiation, a revelation that the experience of beauty results not merely from a balanced arrangement of forms - something any skilled garden designer can achieve - but from a living organism which places humans in deep harmony with plants, animals, sounds and light. Gilles Clément, March 2013