It’s a hundred-year-old tradition, at least. Each year, when the daffodils are in bloom, the Count of Oultremont, owner of the Château de Presles, opens the park gates to the public for 15 days. Part of the 200 hectares of the domain is then offered for walking and picking. Reasonable picking limited to one bouquet.
This year the open park has seen unprecedented crowds and unfortunately it has not been a good experience. The daffodil carpets were taken by storm, some even tearing off bulbs by the hundreds. Not to mention the rubbish left on the routes offered to the public. Angry at first and henceforth especially disappointed by uncivil gestures, the Count of Oultremont could prohibit the picking in the future.
“First there was particularly good weather, explains the Count of Oultremont. Then there are the Covid measures and these lockdowns that push everyone to try to ventilate. Finally, there are social networks. Everyone is looking for a place to walk. People saw that at the Château de Presles, you could still pick daffodils. And they came by the hundreds. I saw people from Tournai. I even heard Flemish speaking in the Park. It’s flattering, of course, to have people who come from so far away. “
But if in the past certain early springs had allowed many visitors to walk the paths of the park, there had never been the influx of this month of March 2021.
The picking rules are defined. Reasonable picking. Which amounts to one bouquet per person. The Count specifies: “Bags, baskets, are prohibited. Likewise, we cannot take bulbs. Despite this, we saw people with whole bags full of flowers and bulbs. The daffodil fields were trampled. we want is to allow people to access the castle park to enjoy the show and take some flowers. There, it was too far. But we have no police force. And the people who come do not know not that we are the owners. Other than making comments and insulting each other, we haven’t had much influence. “.
The Count of Oultremont and his wife were initially very angry. But today, it’s more the disappointment that drives them: “We absolutely want to maintain access to the park during the flowering of the daffodils and we believe that the town is also keen on it. And perhaps the support of plainclothes police, in the future, would make it possible to “Avoid this year’s situation from happening again. We will be consulting with botanists to gauge the extent of damage to the daffodil fields and the time it takes for these beds to regenerate. Perhaps for a period of time. year or two or more, it will be necessary to prohibit the picking. But the park will remain open for the blooming of the daffodils. A nice stroll, taking the flowers in photos, it is also very pleasant. is not essential “.