Category Archives: Monastery and other religious gardens

The Alhambra’s Parador in Granada: The Courtyards

Granada, in southern Spain,  is of course most famous for the Alhambra and Generalife gardens.  The patios of the Alhambra are iconic images of Granada and the best known gardens are those of the Generalife, the vacation palace on the other side of the Alhambra complex.

In the vast complex of palaces that is the Alhambra, this former monastery has been converted into one of the Paradors, Spain government-owned luxury hotels in historic landmarks.

A central courtyard is enclosed with arched columns and a covered gallery. It is a lovely example of the typical Andalusian patio (albeit a rather grand version of course) with the ever present water features in the form of a canal and a central fountain as a focal point. Note also the intricate pebble design of the patio flooring, found throughout southern Spain.

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To the side of the Parador are a series of terraced patios overlooking the Alhambra gardens. Note the pergola, patio flooring designs typical of Andalusia and the ornate fountain.

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The Alhambra’s Parador in Granada: The Gardens

Granada, in southern Spain,  is of course most famous for the Alhambra and Generalife gardens.  The patios of the Alhambra are iconic images of Granada and the best known gardens are those of the Generalife, the vacation palace on the other side of the Alhambra complex.

In the vast complex of palaces that is the Alhambra, this former monastery has been converted into one of the Paradors, Spain’s government-owned luxury hotels set in historic landmarks. In addition to the Alhambra gardens it overlooks, the Parador has its own gardens with a distinctly Mediterranean feel to them and lush plantings of lavender, rosemary, roses and irises.

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Abbaye of Daoulas in Brittany: Art in the Gardens

The romanesque style Abbaye of Daoulas in the Brittany region of France dates back to the 12th century. This site is of interest not only for the monastery itself but for a remarkable cloister unique in Brittany, large grounds with a pond, old washouse and integrating outdoor art exhibits, but also for its medicinal garden which has one of the largest collection of plants in Europe. I am writing about these in separate posts.

In this post, I am featuring the grounds and art exhibit.  The grounds of the abbaye form an unexpected background for large scale photos of  the Omi people by photographer Hans Sylvester. Showing people who are so strikingly different from us at first glance, he also captures a human commonality in everyday gestures and occupations.

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Quimper Old Priory Medieval Gardens Part III: Edibles & Tinctorials

In this third and last post on the Priory gardens of Quimper, I am featuring the back of the garden (shown on the left of the map) where edibles are grown, as well as those plants used for making and coloring clothing.

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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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