Trees in the Cognac landscape
Every region has its trees. Whether they are isolated, in coppice, in hedges or in alignments, trees are essential elements of the landscape; they structure it and underline its natural and human characteristics. With the relief, the buildings, the land use, they participate in the definition of the landscape entities that make up the territories.
Hedges are real living fences, they cut the landscape and mark the limits of plots; copses form plant masses that partition the space; in cultivated areas, they occupy areas unsuitable for cultivation: steep slopes, wet shallows, poor soil … They sometimes shelter a pond, an embankment or the built heritage. The riparian zones are the wooded strips that border the watercourses where we find the alders or vergnes, with the ashes, black poplars and Italian poplars; they draw their courses and make it possible to locate them.
Isolated trees are majestic, deployed since they are not subject to competition from other trees. Isolated in the fields (chestnut, oak, walnut) or at the entrance of properties, they often have a history and constitute landmarks.
The alignments underline the axes of human circulation, they announce the entrance of villages and residences and draw the entrance path.
The different regions of the Cognac crus offer us a palette of landscapes, from the enclave in the Dordogne with the Double forest planted with maritime pines, to the gateway to the Marais Poitevin with its pollarded ash trees and poplars where the divine drink has been practically forgotten.
These landscapes have been shaped by man who has deforested them according to his needs. In the sectors where, before phylloxera, the vineyard was predominant, nature has regained its rights and gives us the current landscapes provided with native species according to the nature of the soil. These range from the tauzin oak in the south to the pubescent oak in the Benon forest, passing through the holm oaks of La Roche-Courbon, the beeches in the Aulnay and Chizé forests or the poplars in the valley bottoms or along the waterways.
The fruit trees that used to grow alongside the vines, notably pear, apple, plum and cherry trees as well as the famous vine peaches, have disappeared from our landscapes. However, today, the tree and the forest keep virtues other than economic and remain essential to the man.
Photo credit : Michel Guillard