Photographer's Note

Between Poivre and Pamplemousses, a spicy story…

The magnificent botanical garden, located in the proximity of Port-Louis, has come to be known under various names, ranging from “Jardin de Mon Plaisir”, to “Jardin des Plantes” or still, “Jardin Botanique Royal”. Finally, in 1988, it has been renamed to “Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Garden”, in honour of the man who led the country to independence and who once, was the Prime Minister of Mauritius. Although this name is quite a recent one, it seems to be scarcely used, even ignored by the visitors. The garden is frequently known as “Jardin de Pamplemousses” (Garden of Pamplemousses), which clearly originates from the adjoining village.

The garden owes its origins to François Mahé de La Bourdonnais, governor of Ile de France (ancient name of Mauritius island), who bought the property at Mon Plaisir, and had his house built and a vegetable garden created there. However, Pierre Poivre, a predestined name, was the genuine and passionate creator. When this botanist and explorer, once a seminarist, visited Ile de France, he turned out to be a real “missionary of spices”.
As a matter of fact, he came back some ten years later, in 1767, but this time, as the administrator of Bourbon Island (Réunion) and Ile de France. Pierre Poivre was a one-armed person (during a naval battle, a cannonball tore away his wrist and he had to undergo an amputation), but his skill, his knowledge, his tenacity and his experience helped him to overcome all obstacles. He introduced numerous trees and spices from all over the world in the Pamplemousses garden, whose names invited us on a worldwide tour: the Caribbean’s laurel, China’s camphor tree, the Philippines bread-root, or Cochin-China’s litchi… as well as many indigenous species as possible. Pierre Poivre, a noble and kind gentleman - besides, he was also against the ignominy of slavery - will be the originator of the first laws on the protection of nature. Together with his wife and daughters, he lived in the residence at Mon Plaisir (now destroyed, but substituted for an equally beautiful building, pompously named as “Château de Mon Plaisir”) till he decided to return in France, in Lyon, where he died in 1786. He was then sixty-seven years old.

His successor, Nicolas Céré, a botanist, tried his best to go on with the works of Pierre Poivre. He dedicated his life and fortune to enrich them with flowers and trees. Under such circumstances, the garden came to be highly valued by the most famous naturalists and is renowned worldwide today.

However, as from 1810, the British practically abandoned this magnificent garden. Yet, in 1849, James Duncan picked it up from abandon and brought back the garden’s original charm. He introduced new species such as ferns, araucarias, orchids, and bougainvilleas. The whole credit of planting numerous species of palm trees should be attributed to him. Nowadays, the royal palm, one of the varieties of the palm trees, adorns two magnificent avenues of the garden.

Various botanists, horticulturists and landscape gardeners succeeded him and carried on with what is known as a “work of art”, which will enchant visitors in search of beauty, serenity and poetry. We can only hope that they will not be disappointed of the effect of mankind on the garden’s spirits in the future…

Photo Information
  • Copyright: maria varipati (maria-v1981) Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1192 W: 30 N: 1940] (10966)
  • Genre: Places
  • Medium: Color
  • Date Taken: 2009-09-26
  • Categories: Nature
  • Exposure: f/9.0, 1/200 seconds
  • More Photo Info: view
  • Photo Version: Original Version
  • Date Submitted: 2012-05-26 2:14
Viewed: 4860
Points: 55
Additional Photos by maria varipati (maria-v1981) Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1192 W: 30 N: 1940] (10966)
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