Monday

GARDENS OF ANDALUCIA


Now that the height of the tourist season is over with, it is a good time to tour some of the splendid public gardens that exist in Spain. Do so in the generally sunnier climes of Andalucia and the chances are you will be warmer whilst doing so. Not all of the gardens charge an entrance fee and those that do are a bargain. For example it is possible to view the Generalife Gardens in Granada (pictured above) without also paying to see the adjacent Alhambra Palace.

Some gardeners admit to me that they are overwhelmed by the grandeur of the Spanish gardens they visit. They wonder how they can create a garden in Spain as good as those I show them on my personalised tours. The answer is that you cannot hope to compete with long established gardens but you can learn from them. Carry a notepad and pen with you. Write down the Latin names of those plants and flowers you admire. Do not try to be too ambitious. A garden to impress your friends and enjoy yourself can be constructed without spending a fortune.

As with so many of the gardens open to the public throughout Spain, water is the driving force in the Generalife. The water stairway, known as the staircase of the Lions, leads to the uppermost part of the Generalife. This unique staircase is divided into three flights with circular landings that are separated by small fountains.

A short distance away is the often overlooked Carmen de los Martires. It is home to a wide variety of trees , including large palms. The gardens are vast and surround the splendid villa from which there are magnificent views of the City of Granada. Look out for the charming grotto that is slightly hidden from view at the entrance to the villa.

Another splendid garden is set in an altogether more noisy setting. The Finca de la ConcepciĆ³n gardens sit beside the motorway network that takes you to Malaga Airport. Once you are in the gardens, you hear little or nothing of the constantly busy autovia. These gardens are a tropical paradise for those who love their plants and trees big. In total there are over 800 tropical and subtropical species. There are 100 varieties of palm tree. For me the star attractions at ConcepciĆ³n are the black bamboo (Phyllostachys Nigra) and the monkey puzzle tree (Araucaria Bidwilli Hook). At 45 metres high this is the tallest tree in the province of Malaga."

Meanwhile, in Cordoba you are spoilt for choice when it comes to beautiful gardens. The Viana Palace boasts truly delightful gardens and thirteen interconnected patios. The house dates from the 17th century and was built on the site of two Roman houses.

I have one final tip when it comes to touring the public gardens of Spain. Have a pair of secauteurs upon your person. They can prove to be very handy for taking cuttings!