Jardin Massey (Tarbes)
Placide Massey, creator and donor of the garden, which bears his name, was born in Tarbes in 1777. He worked in a local herbalist's shop and was passionate about botany. He then joined the Jardin des Plantes in Paris as a naturalist assistant, the Director of which was Ramond de Carbonnière, botanist, pyreneanist and former Massey professor at the École Centrale de Tarbes.
In 1808, Placide Massey became Intendant of the gardens of Queen Hortense; in 1817, he was appointed Inspector in the administration of Parks and in 1819 became Director of the Trianon nurseries, the Versailles vegetable garden, the Sèvres florist and the Saint-Cloud Park.
His reputation as a landscaper was then growing and he was asked for the creation of many gardens in France and abroad. Back in Tarbes in 1850, he took care of the park he had started to develop in 1829, after the purchase of 11 ha of meadows and smallholdings. He died on November 18, leaving his work unfinished and having only had time to define the layout of the garden and to orient its main choices.
He bequeathed his property and most of his property to the City of Tarbes. The work in progress at his death was interrupted, in particular the winter garden which was to be leaned against the main facade of the existing observation tower. To replace this building, the Municipal Council decided in 1880 to proceed with the construction of a monumental greenhouse (orangery). Subsequently, the architect Jean-Jacques Latour, was responsible for drawing up a project to expand the park, including the digging of a lake.
In 1890, the City of Tarbes bought the cloister of the abbey of Saint-Sever-de-Rustan, about to be sold to antiques dealers, and reassembled it in the Massey Garden. These 15th century capitals form an archaeological gallery as curious as it is instructive and recall scenes from the Old and New Testaments, the legends of Saint Jacques, Saint Georges, Saint Nicolas, the fable of Master Renard, the chimeras, the sculptural flora and fauna, the whole is classified as a historical monument.
Over the years, various sculptures will adorn the lawns, such as the bust of Massey, the Saint Cristophe by Coutan, the bust of Jules Lafforgues, a work by Firmin Michelet, the Ouragan Bronze by Desca, the marble Tacheron by Ludovic Durand or again the bust of Théophile Gautier, the work of his daughter Judith Gautier.
A bandstand near the small lake and the Fine Arts Museum complete the cultural facilities of the Massey Garden.
The flora of this garden is made up of a large number of plants of exotic and European origin, remarkable for their beauty and the diversity of their essences. There are thus 1370 trees, most of them hundred years old, and 3800 shrubs. This rich collection comes from all five parts of the world and species of exotic origin represent 55% of the plantations. Discreet labeling makes it easier to identify subjects. "
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