The gardens at Viels-Maisons were created in 1991 by Bertrande de Ladoucette, assisted by the landscape architect Sonja Gauron, on the site of a French-style kitchen garden mentioned in the land register for 1789. Overlooking them is an 11th-century Romanesque church. The property has undergone a number of transformations since its acquisition by the Ladoucette family in 1803; the present house was the porch of a moated feudal castle that was demolished at the time of the French Revolution. A French-style garden surrounded this first castle, running alongside the surrounding wall and backing onto the church. A small stream, the Rû Moro, meandered through the bottom of the garden. A park with ash and oak trees was crossed by three avenues 15 metres wide, rising up to the plateau and opening out onto the infinite sky. From the 15th century onwards, the Châtillon family lived in a large castle with a square keep and a small octagonal tower, surrounded by a moat. In 1789 one of their descendants, Vidame Jacquier, died a natural death but in 1793 his descendants died at the hands of Revolutionaries. The castle was pillaged, and the garden was of course destroyed. In 1803, the Prefect Jean Charles de Ladoucette, at the time posted first in Gap and then in Metz, bought the property, set up home in the porch, which he rearranged, and razed the rest of the castle. In front of his home he created the English-style gardens that were popular at the time, with the help – according to certain letters written in 1860 – of Louis-Sulpice Varé. He abandoned the French-style gardens, digging them up to plant a meadow stretching down to the Rû, across which he constructed three waterfalls, grottoes and rock gardens. This created a pond with an island in its middle, planted with three Taxodium distichum. He planted Sequoia giganteas, a Thuya grandiflora, a cedar of Lebanon, and a clump of yews, keeping part of the moat, crossed by a cast-iron bridge. The French-style park, with three major prospects one kilometre long, is still as it was designed in the 17th century.
Noteworthy trees :