Following a two-year restoration effort, the Queen’s Grove was unveiled to the public today, June 14. The rich diversity of plant life to which it is now home is unique within the gardens of Versailles. The restoration was made possible thanks to the extraordinary concerted effort of more than a hundred patrons from France and overseas, including businesses, foundations, institutions and private individuals.
A grove for Marie-Antoinette
The Queen’s Grove, located in the extension of the Orangery parterre in the south of the gardens of Versailles, was specially created in 1776 for Queen Marie-Antoinette, so that she would have somewhere to walk, away from visitors.
It was originally designed in the landscaped style that was popular in the gardens of the 18th century. To create this flower garden, several non-native, particularly North American, species introduced to France in the 18th century, such as the Virginia tulip tree and white fringetree, were acclimated.
Botanical richness restored
This haven of greenery changed gradually over the course of the 19th and 20th centuries. Its leafy walkways gave way to more structured paths and its botanical diversity disappeared, replaced by hedges and more uniform borders.
Thanks to meticulous documentary research, the restoration project, which began in 2019, was able to determine the former layout of the grove precisely.
Nearly 150 Virginia tulip trees, that iconic specimen of the old botanical expeditions, have been replanted in the central area of the grove. In addition, 600 rose bushes and more than a thousand perennials adorn the periphery, in homage to Marie-Antoinette’s famed collection of roses and her love of flowers. The walkways, meanwhile, are replete with trees and flowering shrubs.
Wooded borders lead walkers to discover an arbour of Japanese cherry-blossom trees, another of Judas trees and yet another of Virginia chokecherries. It’s like being invited on a global odyssey of botanical life featuring an array of plants that would have featured in the gardens of the late 18th century.
A synergy of patrons
Numerous patrons, from both France and overseas, and including companies and private individuals, pledged their support to the restoration of the Queen’s Grove : Crédit Agricole d’Île-de-France Mécénat, Fondation Crédit Agricole – Pays de France, Parfums Christian Dior, Veolia Environnement, Smurfit Kappa, the department of Yvelines, the American Friends of Versailles, Société des Amis de Versailles, the French-American Cultural Foundation, The Hyatt Foundation, the National World War I Museum and Memorial, Goldman Sachs Gives, Hugo Events and almost 120 private donors.