The Alhambra and Generalife gardens in Granada, Spain are the most famous examples of Moorish garden style (and also the most visited). However, like the palaces around which they were built, they have been altered over many centuries. The exterior of the palaces have remained plain and austere and the column arcades, fountains with running water, and reflecting pools are used to add to the aesthetic and functional complexity. As a garden designer one hopes to be fortunate enough to make a pilgrimage here once in a lifetime…
We’re drowning here in Southern Germany! The past four weeks it has rained non-stop and at the check-out counter of my local gardening center almost everyone in line included a box of slug bait. Yes, it’s very green but even if it were to stop raining, the garden is inaccessible due to extreme slugginess!
Amazing to contrast this with the dry Southern Spanish climate we recently visited where water is the central feature of most of the designed gardens. It’s difficult to imagine we would desire the sound of water here but a pond seems like a good idea to house some predators for those slugs. But as garden fashion goes…crucial in the design of any ‘water feature’, is the sound of the trickle. Without being too descriptive, you don’t want it to sound ‘human’ unless it is the point of the feature (think: Manneken Pis).
Here are some examples of quiet, meditative water gardens;
The Alcazar Palace gardens in Seville are a true paradise within a bustling city. No wonder the Spanish royals still stay here when visiting! The gardens combine both Islamic elements (water fountains, rills, and geometric tile) and Renaissance elements (hedges and parterres). Although construction of the site began in 913 AD the gardens obviously date to a much more recent time.
With so many ‘garden rooms’ within, it was surprisingly easy to find a quiet space away from the hundreds (!) of strolling visitors and I was able to photograph some unobstructed views.
Writing about trees typical of the Andalusian landscape (see post on orange trees), we encountered a lot of cork trees (quercus Suber or Cork oak) on our journey. These are especially interesting after the recent harvest which shows the red bark underneath in stark contrast with the gray bark remaining.
It’s May already (can’t tell from the weather here, brrr!) and fortunately, I spent most of the month of April in Andalusia, Spain. What a gardener’s paradise, especially in Spring when jasmine fragrants the air and green is abundant after the area’s rainiest Winter in years. Where to start with the masses of photos I will share here? The Alhambra? The Alcazar? The natural landscape? It was all so amazing! How about with what’s unique and recognizable when you think of Sevilla and surrounds? Orange trees (Citrus aurantium) as the chosen street tree in all the villages and towns! They are small, evergreen, produce brightly colored fruit and lovely little white flowers most months of the year. The perfect street tree in this mild climate and the fruit can be harvested from the balconies!