Category Archives: Botanical gardens

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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Cordoba Botanical Gardens: the Scientific 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, featured in this post, 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 dedicated to the Andalusian patio.

he Collections are arranged scientifically along a central alley, by species and variety. All the plants included in the collections are autochtone to Spain.

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Brest Botanical Gardens Part II: The Preservation Gardens

In northern Brittany, the Botanical Gardens in Brest enjoy a privileged location in a small valley with a stream throughout, and creating a microclimate allowing endangered species to grow with additional protection. Long and narrow, these gardens are divided into the park area at one end, end the botanical gardens proper at the other.

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In this second post, I am featuring the botanical gardens, which are largely dedicated to the preservation of endangered species of plants. The water features here are more extensive than in the park area, with large ponds and ducks in addition to the stream running the length of the park. Here again, the areas around the stream are reminiscent of Japanese rock gardens, and landscaped with a profusion of bridges, ferns or bamboo groves. Note the beautiful planting of Tasmanian tree ferns along the banks, as well as some particularly large gunneras.

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Brest Botanical Gardens Part 1: The Park

In northern Brittany, the Botanical Gardens in Brest enjoy a privileged location in a small valley with a stream throughout, and creating a microclimate allowing endangered species to grow with additional protection. Long and narrow, these gardens are divided into the park area at one end, end thebotanical gardens proper at the other.

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In this post, I am featuring the park. Common to both areas is the stream and therefore an abundance of water features. The park has the feel of a woodland garden, with more greenery, bamboos, mature trees, gunnera and the likes, than landscaped borders and flowers. The choice of plants as well as the use of rocky elements and bridges give it very much the feel of a Japanese garden, in certain areas of the park in particular.

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Quimper Old Priory Medieval Gardens Part II: Pavilion & Rose Garden

In my earlier post, I talked about the history and significance of this garden, and showcase the aromatics and medicinal plant garden. Here, I am featuring the center portion of the garden including the rose garden and pergola, and the pavilion with the fountain representing the source of the four fountains of Eden.

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Quimper Old Priory Medieval Gardens Part I: Medicinal & Aromatic Plants

Work on this garden was started in 1997 to create a medieval garden in the style of a convent garden in the days of Anne of Brittany (1477-1514).  The population at the time resorted to plants for most of their needs: food, medicine and clothing.

The garden has three essential components. The medicinal and herb garden,  used by monks to make their own remedies from plants not readily available in the surrounding areas and therefore grown in the garden.

The edible garden: nutritious roots, fruit, fresh or dried, beans, barley, and other garden crops made up the menu of the time.

The tinctorial garden grew plants used for clothing such as hemp, linen or catharmus which was used for red coloring.

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Note also that the medival garden is a representation of Paradise, with the fountain in the center representing the pure source from which the four rivers of Eden originate.  Plants such as white lilies and other white flowers represent the virgin.

In this first post, I am featuring the front portion of the garden, with the medicinal and herb section.

This is one of the loveliest gardens in this style I have had the chance to visit and it was also awarded “Jardin Remarquable” (remarkable garden”. It was designed not only for function but also form, with a pavilion, arbors, pergolas, benches in cozy nooks, decorative borders for raised beds, woven Plessis, and a fountain, making it a feast for the eyes as well as the palate. It also overlooks the river Odet, making it a truly enchanting setting.

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