Category Archives: Conservatories and greenhouses

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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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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Castle of Trevarez in France: The Vegetable Garden & Greenhouses

The castle of Trevarez near Chateauneuf du Faou in northern Brittany, France, is one of the last great castles built in France. Construction began in 1892 for a French politician and brought together all the faste and excess of the Belle Epoque, frescoes, carvings, marble, mosaics, ornate panels and fireplaces.

It is often referred to as the pink or red castle, because of the pink color it gets from the bricks used.  It was unfortunately bombed in the 1940s, and has not been occupied since, but it is being renovated by the government who purchased it in the 70s.

The gardens were neglected as well for many years and have been slowly brought back to their original glory, one area at a time. The grounds are extensive, with stables, a large wash house, theme gardens, formal gardens and much more.

In this post, I am featuring the potager, or kitchen garden and the greenhouses. They have been under renovation since 2013 after being abandoned for many years. Historians, landscape designers, gardeners and staff cleared out the brush while cataloguing  the plants found and located the original concrete edging to the borders and the central water pond. They were able to begin to recreate the four large quadrants that made up the walled kitchen garden. A large greenhouse closes in the potager at one end, and on the other side of one wall are the rest of the greenhouses.

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DSC01652DSC01647 DSC01648DSC01642 DSC01643 DSC01640 DSC01641The other  greenhouses for the potager are still standing but also in need of renovation.

DSC01639 DSC01613 DSC01614 DSC01617The gardener’s cottage and annex has a lean in hothouse that was used at the time for exotic plants and hothouse flowers.

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A Romantic Garden in Old Toledo at the School of Fine Arts

I have written other posts on the beautiful city of Toledo, and while it is full of monuments and old world architecture, there are few public green spaces as gardens are more often than not part of private buildings not open to the public. This romantic garden with a large bust of Don Quixote as its focal point belong to the School of Fine Arts. Even in the fall citrus and khaki trees and bursts of color. Note also the stunningly ornate glass and iron conservatory alongside the building.

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