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Napoleon Recalled Josephine’s Favorite Plants

[Thanks for the illustration above to garden historian, lecturer, and writer Dr. David Marsh from The Gardens Trust.]

After his defeat at Waterloo in 1815, Napoleon returned to Malmaison to a place he found soothing, and full of memories of Josephine.

Josephine had died by then, but her plants lived on at Malmaison.

She took great pleasure in planting and caring for her flowers like the dahlias and the shrubs and trees.

Historian Ruth Scurr recalls in her book Napoleon: A Life Told in Gardens and Shadows that time at Malmaison.

She writes, “The 26th of June [1815] was a very hot day. Napoleon spent it at Malmaison reminising about the past.

“He walked up and down with his hands behind his back in what had once been his personal garden, just outside the library.

“He also lingers among exotic trees that Josephine has always insisted on planting herself.”

There were honey locusts, cedars of Lebanon, apple trees and tulip trees.

He visited Josephine’s grand greenhouse and remembered there how she checked her tropical flowers every day.

It was indeed a grand greenhouse. [below]

The Interior of Empress Josephine’s Greenhouse. Painting by Auguste Garneray 1824.

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