Environmental concerns have long been at the heart of the Château d'Ainay-le-Vieil's preoccupations, notably through its gardens, a vast site for experimentation; but in recent years, we have decided to develop a real policy of preserving biodiversity and protecting the environment in the park and gardens, as well as in the château itself.
This policy began in 2019 during the château's restoration, when we decided to help preserve the bats present in the château's attics by not carrying out certain works that would have driven them out. For many years, the curator of the Museum d'Histoire Naturelle de Bourges had been visiting the attic every year to check for endangered bats. At his request, we have preserved a huge attic entirely dedicated to bats, in particular pipistrelles, which find shelter and protection in this way, at a time when they are in serious decline in France, suffering from the loss of their habitats: attics, hollow trees, disappearing hedgerows.
To protect bees, which play an essential role in biodiversity, we have agreed with a beekeeper living near Ainay to install around eight hives in the park, not far from the second chartreuse, which houses an apple and pear orchard. Their role is obviously essential for beekeepers and honey production, but even more so for agriculture, as they are excellent pollinating insects . In March, they leave the hive to gather nectar and pollen, which they deposit on the flower pistil. This enables the fertilization and reproduction of many plants: rapeseed, sunflowers, wild plants, trees and fruit trees. Their disappearance would be catastrophic, as without them there would be no flowers, no seeds, and flora and fauna would gradually disappear.
In 2020, we built a house in the second Carthusian monastery, dubbed the "insect castle" because of its tower. It is especially well-suited to the sculpted orchard, which features apple and pear trees trained in espaliers and counter-espaliers using the technique of the great gardener La Quintinie at the Potager du Roi in Versailles. Its role is to encourage local biodiversity and attract beneficial auxiliary insects: ladybugs, small bees, earwigs, hoverflies, lacewings and mealybugs to this insect castle. They will naturally combat pests and ensure good pollination, replacing the use of environmentally damaging pesticides.
In agricultural areas, there has been a sharp decline in the number of birds, due to a number of factors: the impact of insecticides, the reduction of meadows, the artificialization of agricultural land, farm machinery, light pollution and the development of raptor and carrion crow populations, which are threatening birds with extinction. It's becoming increasingly difficult for birds to find natural nesting sites: hollow trees or holes in houses or under roofs. This makes it difficult for them to reproduce.
The Château d'Ainay-le-Vieil is initiating a new project this year to help alleviate this problem, protect birds and ensure successful nesting. In the " poets' alley" linking the rose garden to the chartreuses, 35 nesting boxes and bird feeders designed by Alexandre Maleysson have been installed . Swallows, swifts, starlings, robins, titmice and sparrows will all find a nesting box to suit them, as the size of the opening is adapted to each species.
Ainay-le-Vieil has also adopted a cultural policy, with 35 poems about nature, flowers and love written by the greatest French poets from the Middle Ages to the present day, from François Villon to Paul Eluard, not forgetting Géraud d'Aligny, father of the gardens' creator, Marie-Sol de La Tour d'Auvergne. Our ambition is to share our historic château and gardens and France's magnificent poetic heritage with our friends and visitors.
Awareness of nature's interactions, education, ecology and culture all come together here for everyone's enjoyment! On June 4, as part of Rendez-vous au jardin, visits will be organized with Sarah Guiheux, in charge of environmental education and sustainable development at the CPIE Brenne-Berry (Centre Permanent d'initiatives pour l'environnement).
It was in this context that our artistic director, David Molard Soriano, presented a...