Category Archives: Botanical gardens

The Jardins d’Essais, Rabat’s Historic Botanical Gardens, Part II: The Andalusian Garden

The city of Rabat, capital of Morocco, is a Unesco World Heritage site, and the Jardins d’Essai Botaniques, literally meaning Gardens of Botanical Trials, was classified a national heritage site in 1992.

These gardens were created between 1914 and 1919, under a joint initiative of the sultan  Moulay Hafid and the French Protectorate. They were designed by one of my favorite garden architects, Jean-Claude Nicolas Forestier, best known for the Rose Garden and the Iris Garden of Bagatelle outside Paris, but who created gardens in Spain and Morocco in addition to his city planning work as a French public servant, laying out the plans for the modern cities of Morocco.

The gardens were reopened by the current King in 2013, following extensive renovations after years of neglect. They include over 650 species of plants, including rare varieties of tropical, sub-tropical, and succulents, and an arboretum.

The Jardins d’Essais are separated by a road into two distinct gardens.  the western side includes the Moorish garden and museum, while the eastern garden is a bit larger and more formal, with distinct garden areas for various types of plants.

Jardins d'Essais, Botanical Gardens, Rabat, Morocco

Because there is a good bit to see here, I am dividing this into several posts, and this is the second post on the western gardens.

Forestier was intensely influenced by the gardens of Andalusia, in particular the presence of water. He recreated for example the water canal running down the stairs of the Generalife in Granada, in the stairs of the Larribal Gardens he created in Barcelona. Here, he gives us a typical Andalusian garden, complete with plantings, water features, and a Moorish house used as the garden museum.

Jardins d'Essais, Botanical Gardens, Rabat, Morocco

Jardins d'Essais, Botanical Gardens, Rabat, Morocco Jardins d'Essais, Botanical Gardens, Rabat, Morocco

Jardins d'Essais, Botanical Gardens, Rabat, Morocco

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The Jardins d’Essais: Rabat’s Historic Botanical Gardens, Part I

The city of Rabat, capital of Morocco, is a Unesco World Heritage site, and the Jardins d’Essai Botaniques, literally meaning Gardens of Botanical Trials, was classified a national heritage site in 1992.

These gardens were created between 1914 and 1919, under a joint initiative of the sultan  Moulay Hafid and the French Protectorate. They were designed by one of my favorite garden architects, Jean-Claude Nicolas Forestier, best known for the Rose Garden and the Iris Garden of Bagatelle outside Paris, but who created gardens in Spain and Morocco in addition to his city planning work as a French public servant, laying out the plans for the modern cities of Morocco.

The gardens were reopened by the current King in 2013, following extensive renovations after years of neglect. They include over 650 species of plants, including rare varieties of tropical, sub-tropical, and succulents, and an arboretum.

The Jardins d’Essais are separated by a road into two distinct gardens.  the western side includes the Moorish garden and museum, while the eastern garden is a bit larger and more formal, with distinct garden areas for various types of plants.

Jardins d'Essais, Botanical Gardens, Rabat, Morocco

Because there is a good bit to see here, I am dividing this into several posts, and this is the first post on the western gardens.

While inaugurated in 2013, much work remained to bring these gardens back to their former glory, and it is visible in particular in the western gardens were large areas remain to be cleaned up, and others have been planted or replanted in recent years so the specimens are still quite small. But while wandering down the alleys, Forestier’s signature style is unmistakable in the way he creates intimate garden spaces tucked away everywhere, and blends plantings and garden structures seamlessly for an element of surprise.

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Cadiz’ Historic Parque Genoves: The Botanical Garden

The old city of Cadiz is a peninsula bordered on three sides by the ocean and on the land side by walls, with the modern Cadiz having expanded passed those fortifications. This charming walled city is a compact maze of narrow streets, mostly pedestrian, but dotted with squares, and plazas, and of course the beach and promenade give it a pleasant open feel as well. The main green area in Cadiz is Parque Genoves.

This historic park situated at the very end of the peninsula on the waterfront dates back to the end of the 18th century. It was enlarged in the 19th century and manymore trees were planted, at which time in became known as “Paseo de las Delicias”, garden of the delights. Then in the late 19th century, it bacame a botanical garden under the direction of Eduardo Genovés y Puig, a garden designer from Valencia.

There are really two main areas to the garden. One side feels more like w whimsical park, with a man made lake, a waterfall, a mountain with cave, dinosaurs in the water, duck houses and a beautiful kiosk. The other half has a formal promenade with topiaries and the botanical garden area with an extensive collection of trees and succulents. In this post I am showcasing botanical garden section of the park.

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Jardin Americano: Sevilla’s Botanical Gardens

Sevilla is a truly beautiful city, and one of my favorites in Spain. It is full of historic neigborhoods, stunning architecture and monuments, but its many plazas, squares, parks, green spaces, narrow streets, and pedestrian areas make it also  very charming and people friendly.  I was visiting Sevilla off season, but the warmer Mediterranean climate still had roses and bougainvilleas blooming in December. I first visited the Maria Luisa Park, designed by one of my favorite landscape architects Jean Claude Nicholas Forrestier, then the famous Alcazar Palace and its famous gardens.

Maybe I should have visited the Jardines de Guadalquivir and the Jardin Americano (the Botanical Garden next to it) first, because I must say they were a huge let down after seeing such world class gardens.

On the river that goes through Sevilla is an island, named Isla de La Catuja after the cloistered monastery (Cartuja) that is now the Contemporary Arts Center. The island was isolated and undeveloped until the 1992 World Expo, at which time  the monastwery was converted, bridges were added, A huge research and development complex was built, as well as university schools, a stadium, an auditorium, an amusement park, theaters and concert venues, and of course, the gardens.

Jardin Americano, much like it’s neighbor Jardines de Guadalquivir, seemed a bit abandoned and run down, with ponds not looking their best and concrete showing wear (I decide to forego taking photos of those areas). I also noticed gaps in plantings, as if nothing had been replaced in some time.

Even in its hay day, this garden would have had a bit too much concrete for my taste; it does have some nice spots though, such as the large, slatted tropical hothouse right on the Guadalquivir river, that makes one feel a bit like an island cataway, or the nice collection of succulents. In keeping with the theme of the 92 Expo of the 500 year anniversary of Columbus’ voyage,  many of the plants were gifted by countries from the Americas. Others are plants you will see through southern Spain, such as bougainvilleas, oleanders, or jacarandas.

Jarin Americano is right by the bridge leading to the monastery, now the Contemporary Arts Center, and there is no entrance fee.

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Cordoba Botanical Gardens: The Andalusian Patio

The Botanical Gardens in Cordoba, Spain opened in 1887 and were designed for primarily educational and scientific purposes. They are laid out along a wide central alley leading on one side to the Collections, species native to Spain arranged in borders edges by low growing rosemary or hackberry, and on the other side the Agricultural School with a large collection of citrus trees as well as an extensive vegetable garden. In the center are greenhouses dedicated to species from the Canary Islands, Balearic Islands and Andalusia, as well as a lovely area featured here, dedicated to the Andalusian patio.

The patio is emblematic of Cordoba, where the Festival of the Patios has been taking place every year in May since 1933. Its origins go back many centuries to the Moorish rule in Andalusia. In this are of the garden is nor a literal rendition of the Cordoban patio architecturally speaking, but rather a display of the many varieties of plants found in them, as many as 300 here, and many suitable to container gardening.

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Madrid’s Royal Botanical Gardens: The Succulents Greenhouse

The Royal Botanical Gardens in Madrid cover eight hectares in the heart of the city, next to the world famous Prado museum. They were designed in the 18th century (1781) during the age of Enlightenment as part of a remodeling plan for the Prado area under Carlos III.

The gardens boast an amazing 30,000 plants, divided amongst smaller themed gardens such as the rose garden, the vegetable garden, the fruit garden, all laid out in squares along the central intersecting alleys. There is also a fantastic complex of greenhouses at one end, as well as a large pavilion and a long arbor covered in many varieties of grapevines.  It is laid out on four terraced levels.

With such large and varied gardens, it would be impossible to cover it all in one post. In this post, I am featuring one of the more modern greenhouses, housing the gardens’ succulents collection. Note the use of vertical gardening on the very tall interior walls, as well as the catwalk along the top joining this greenhouse with the subtropical/tropical one.

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Cordoba Botanical Gardens: Sustainable Gardening & the Kitchen Garden

The Botanical Gardens in Cordoba, Spain opened in 1887 and were designed for primarily educational and scientific purposes. They are laid out along a wide central alley leading on one side to the Collections, species native to Spain arranged in borders edges by low growing rosemary or hackberry, and on the other side the Agricultural School, featured in this post, with a large collection of citrus trees as well as an extensive vegetable and kitchen garden. In the center are greenhouses dedicated to species from the Canary Islands, Balearic Islands and Andalusia, as well as a lovely area dedicated to the Andalusian patio.

In the School of Agriculture, the emphasis is on sustainability and diversity, with sustainability and organic gardening on the forefront. Plants grown are those for human or animal consumption as well as any plants offering benefits or use to people. Many different methods of cultivation are used and in those collection one can observe the different cycless of plants through the seasons.

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Citrus Medica
Citrus Medica

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