Jardin alpin La Jaÿsinia ("La Jaÿsinia" alpine garden)
In chillier climes, nature is full of wonderful surprises… In Upper Savoy, the "La Jaÿsinia" alpine botanical garden is the setting for around 2,500 species of mountain flowers. Welcome to a paradise of gentians, edelweiss and other Androsace species.
Curious to see some plants from the Caucasus? And those from the beautiful, rugged landscapes of the Himalayas? At the Jaÿsinia alpine garden, in the charming village of Samoëns, there are plants and flowers from cold and mountainous zones all over the world. The prettiest flowers in this unique garden can be discovered by climbing the 80-metre slope to the top of the estate and tramping around its 3.7 hectares!
A guaranteed change of scenery!
As you make your way along the winding mountain path, there is a different section for each region to reveal its treasures, such as the Alps and the blue-sow thistle, the Mediterranean and the Lebanon cedar, and the Balkans and the crocus. Remaining in the Northern Hemisphere but further afield, America is represented by a lofty guest, the Giant Sequoia, and the bloodroot, which has a white flower but red sap! Then it’s off to Asia, with China and the Delavay peony, named after a French Catholic missionary, as well as Japan and the toad lily. The South does not feature so much, with just New Zealand and the Veronica shrub.
Habitats and extremes
Although they survive wintry weather, the plants in the La Jaÿsinia garden do not all grow in the same soil! So as well as the geographical zones, there are also ecological sections, such as the peat bog, where you’ll find the carnivorous Sarracenia pitcher plant. In the marshland, you can admire the Bald Cypress — especially in the winter! — and the primroses. The white-flowered aquatic saxifrage flourishes at the water’s edge, while in the granite section pretty gentians and February daphne nod their heads.
A spectacular site
You’ve probably already guessed that there is a spring in this garden. Or, to be more precise, a diversion from it. Channels dug into the mountain by hand supply the fountains, waterfalls, lakes and marshes with water. In the winter, the waterfalls also regale visitors with the fascinating sight of giant stalactites! There are lots of other sights to see here, too, including the La Jaÿsinia chapel, a fabulous view of the beautiful village of Samoëns and the Giffre valley, and, at the top, the ruins of La Tornalta castle, surrounded by vegetation. The works of Man and nature sometimes spring from extraordinary landscapes.
A childhood memory
La Jaÿsinia has a rather unusual past. It was here that Marie-Louise Jaÿ, a local girl born in 1838, tended her herd of goats until she was 15 years old. Her family then sent her to Paris where she met her husband Ernest Cognacq. Tireless and thrifty in their work, together they founded the Samaritaine, a large department store in Paris which was an overnight success! With an immense fortune but no children, Marie-Louise and Ernest devoted the rest of their lives to charitable work and never forgot the village where Marie-Louise was born. In 1906, she bought the land to create a botanical garden, designed by the landscape gardener Jules Allemand. In 1936, the scientific management of the La Jaÿsinia was handed over to the Muséum which founded a research laboratory there equipped with a herbarium. A genuine work of landscape art, the site today has the ‘Remarkable Garden’ label because of its quality and beauty. Come and admire it for yourself!