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The Garden of Pliny the Elder and the Small Vegetable Garden ofCassinomaguspresent a selection of plants that the Romans used in their daily life. Each cultivation square brings together plants according to their uses: vegetable, medicinal, aromatic, decorative, food and utility plants.

The plants that can be seen there today are only part of the knowledge of Pliny the Elder in the 1st century, who listed more than 900 plants in his Natural History encyclopedia. The plants presented in the gardens therefore do not constitute an exhaustive list, and the collection has been enriched over the years. 

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The garden is used for healing. The Romans used practically all the plants in decoctions, in infusion in water, in poultices or in powder to mix them with wine. The plants are used in fumigation, the smoke produced is often linked to religion to purify places of worship.

Even if certain virtues attributed by the Romans are not attested, the plants presented in our garden are still used in the current pharmacopoeia. You can  find there: Sage, plantain, yarrow, mugwort, marshmallow and many others.

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Aromatic plants are condiments that enhance the flavor of a dish. The Romans already used varieties that we still eat today, such as chives, sage or thyme. Other plants also entered the Roman culinary art. The cook Apicius gives us recipes for very elaborate dishes (often intended for the elite) which are always enhanced by powerful local spices such as horseradish for example which is spicy, or by spices from Asia or Africa for the most rich (cinnamon, pepper, etc.).

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Some of the plants in the garden will be used to make perfumes or are used for cosmetic purposes.  The Romans also used perfumes in fumigation; perfume comes from Latinfor smokingwhich means "through smoke".

Perfumes are oils in which flowers or plants have macerated (either by heating them or cold).

The cheapest and most famous perfume from Roman times is therhodinon, based on rose, which contains few ingredients and is therefore financially accessible to everyone. But according to Pliny the Elder, perfumes can fetch exorbitant prices and are “useless luxury items”. The perfume can be applied in massage or drunk to heal.

The most popular flavors are rose, iris, cinnamon, saffron, or even jasmine.

UTILITY plants

They present a non-exhaustive panel of plants used for various purposes such as the manufacture of fabrics, basketry, dyeing (tinctorial plants), ropes (climbing hops) etc. These examples are still used today as flax for textiles for example.



Ornamental plants are used in ceremonial gardens which develop gradually. They mark the social status of the inhabitants, make it possible to expose their wealth and to show in Gaul their "Romanization". There are often pools with water games, sometimes frescoes and statues. The Romans weren't as sensitive to flowers as we are today.

Their gardens were mostly composed of plants and shrubs where foliage played an important role. We owe the Romans the art of topiary, a discipline that consists of cutting plants to make veritable sculptures of various shapes.

FOOD plants

Originally the garden was mainly used for food. The basis of food among the Gallo-Romans are cereals: wheat, rye, spelled. Many plants and fruits consumed at this time come from the picking. Some plants are domesticated and cultivated, but as Pliny tells us so well: "if they abound in nature, why plant them?"

  You can also complete your visit to the gardens with a visit to the orchard. Wild or cultivated fruits are also very present in ancient food.



You will also find, at the Petit Potager, a selection of vegetables consumed during Antiquity.

HORTA: Latin word for edible wild plants.HORTUS: Latin word for "garden - vegetable garden". Both gave the word horticulture (art of cultivating gardens, practicing the cultivation of vegetables, fruits, flowers, trees or fruit and ornamental shrubs).

... and many other varieties of plants await you in Pliny's garden!
You will be able to meet more than 100 plants typical of the Gallo-Roman era and thus offer you a plant and historical walk in the heart of the Cassinomagus archaeological park.
In summer, a misty cool space is available in the Pliny garden.

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