Friday, February 20, 2009

Garden of the Hesperides, Valencia, Spain

Above - Photo © Alice Joyce / The Garden of the Hesperides

In Greek mythology, the daughters of the god Hesperus dwelled in an idyllic mountain garden at the edge of the world. Guarded by a dragon, this arcadian realm was known for its tree of golden apples.

The nymphs (sometimes called the African Sisters) provided inspiration for what I found to be Valencia's most surprising public space: The Garden of the Hesperides. Constructed between 1998 and 2000, the 'Hesperides' is the work of VAM 10 Arquitectura Studio: Designed by Maria Teresa Santamaria, agricultural technical engineer, & architects Antonio Gallud, Carlos Campos, and Miguel del Rey.

In the contained space of a Hortus Conclusus, the designers called upon symbolic elements to relate to the scented landscapes of early Catalonia. A collection of citrus species hearkens to the admirable horticulture of Valencia's 15th century. Cypresses are planted as prominent structural forms. Water cascades through channels. Fountains freshen the air.

In the words of the designers, "The garden is a setting for dreams...where...the highest, most generous thoughts come to mind." In naming the garden, they looked to the nymphs as "the symbol of fertility."

More will follow in the coming days on the garden's exceptional modernity: A layout that successfully highlights contemporary materials and textures while celebrating the region's traditions and history.


  1. Interesting post, as always. I wonder if they grow Hesperloe parviflora or red yucca. Maybe it's native to this land although I believe it's hardy to Zone 6. Look forward to more.

  2. Alice:
    You have piqued my curiosity... I love the quote from the designers that...'The garden is a setting for dreams.....' Perhaps I still have a chance of dreaming myself out of the 12cm of snow that has already fallen, with no sighting of an eventual reprieve on the horizon.... just promise your tours aren't heading to Alaska or Ontario, Canada anytime soon!

  3. Hi Alice, thanks for the welcome on Blotanical..your photos are so artistic and beautiful! Those yellow blooms in the 3rd picture are lemons no? You have beautiful landscapes in northern CA :)

  4. Lynn, it's called Buddha's Hand, a most unusual variety of citrus.
    An interesting specimen to grow, where possible. Alice

  5. Alice, what a wonderful blog! I had to blink at the ultra modern museum in that earlier post - what an amazing bit of architecture! You provide quite the sumptuous feast for the eye in here and I thank you. Very cool.

  6. Hey there fellow Bay Area garden blogger! Thanks for the fave on blotanical. I've added you to my list on my blog so I can keep up with your writings and musings and travels!

  7. I just love that statue in the first pic. Spanish gardens are very formal but have such a refined beauty as if every leaf were planned.

  8. Thanks Steve, Ronnie and Hermes for dropping by. I loved spending time in this garden, and will be discussing the design and posting more photos of the Hesperides in the coming days.

  9. Alice your pictures are wonderful! The places you have been - how exciting. I'll be coming back often - It may be my only means of seeing the gardens of the world!
    Thank you so much for visiting my blog I appreciate it very much - I'm just learning and getting the hang of it - a week and a half ago I didn't have a clue about blogs. ;-) Now I'm all over the place exploring.