Thursday, February 26, 2009

Valencia, Spain - Garden of the Hesperides

The Garden of the Hesperides
Photo © Copyright Alice Joyce

Valencia offers garden travelers and aficionados of modern landscape architecture a trove of settings to fill their days. Strolling away from the city center along Calle de Quart, you'll pass through the ancient towers on the way to the botanical gardens, appearing on your right. Across the street from the gardens, I booked a room at Chill Art Hotel Jardin Botanico.

Do leave a comment, telling me what you think of the hotel's web site design; evoking a dreamy delirium, or perhaps some other mood entirely: 

The El Carmen neighborhood is an artistic hub; a place to enjoy a bite to eat in a small cafe frequented by Valencians. My time in Valencia was coming to an end when I experienced an exhilarating finale to my exploration of Spain's third largest city. That's when I discovered The Garden of the Hesperides, adjacent to the University's Jardi Botanic, but tucked away on Gaspar Bono street.

The Hesperides helps to define the sophistication and spirit of Valencia in the new Millennium, with its refreshingly modern landscape design: A layout animated by the historical significance of its Mediterranean plantings, water features, and sculptural focal point.

Garden Design: M.T. Santamaria, A.Gallud, M. Del Rey, C. Campos
Enter the confines of this walled retreat and you escape from the nonstop traffic of a nearby thoroughfare. Two concrete gates swivel into a locked or unlocked position; the material given textural treatments that set polished surfaces against raw sections. Inlaid with linear strips of black and cream-colored marble, the gates have a presence that calls to mind vast canvases in an art galley. Underfoot, the walkway contains subtle leaf patterns suggestive of fossil remains.

The landscape's bold geometry caters to botanically inclined visitors with a composition incorporating rows of fragrant lavender and germander shrubs, bisected by walls of emerald green foliage interspersed with palm trees.

Exhuberant bougainvillea clad pergolas provide a shady respite, while an espalier of 'Toscana' lemons basks in the sun. Water gently flows within the angular outlines of a rill, the channel dipping beneath the ground, and ultimately finding its way into a rectangular pond.

On the expansive terraces, a lovely Salix babylonica weeps, in alliance with 'Metamorfosis' ...a sculpture by Miklos A. Palfy.


  1. Another choice posting - if only I could rack up frequent flier miles for reading about your travels.

    BTW: I still have far more 35mm slides that I use for teaching than I do digital stuff. But I'm gradually having the best of them sent out for scanning so I have a choice.

  2. Another great post. I love the strong architecture--and the sunshine!

  3. A fascinating read, and good pictures, thank you. Have you read this book? - I still haven't seen the programmes but the book is an excellent read.

  4. Hi there and good morning! You are a wonderful writer I enjoy your descriptions of the gardens you visit, especially the Hesperides. This looks to be a wonderful garden, I am especially fond of the large evergreens and what I think is acanthus? I think your Californian gardeners will be lucky to tour gardens with you in September too. That sounds like fun and they can read of it here too; which is great.

  5. Thanks all for the kind words, and the book suggestion, EB. Recently I contributed -along with mostly British writers - to '1001 Garden You Must See Before You Die.' A wide-ranging effort. So many gardens, so little time......

  6. Hi!!
    Ok! Now we are talking, my comment was posted. yay!
    I love how the traditional moorish garden is given a contempory interpretation.
    In particular the arboleda anaranjada with its water channels is very effective. I like the use of plain raked earth under the trees. You see this in Portuguese gardens as well. Can't you see this in California?
    It has been fun travelling along on your blog.

  7. oh, this post made me feel very envious. (I've just discovered you via Blotanical so have a lot of catching up to do!).

    Wonderful photos too.

  8. I love the bougenvilla. Very pretty.

  9. Your tours are an absolute "must-see", Alice. I have lived in both Santa Cruz and Vancouver, BC, and seen those items you feature in here. I actually saw Queen Elizabeth in the Nitobi Gardens! She acted like she didn't know me of course. Silly thing.

  10. A beautiful garden space, and so appropriate for the climate! I like the modern plantings of blocks of different kinds of interesting plants--it shows off their architecture so nicely.