Valencia Garden of the Hesperides Sculpture Photo © 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 a boutique hotel, Hotel Jardin Botanico
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:
The Garden of the Hesperides, adjacent to the… University’s Jardi Botanic, but tucked away on Gaspar Bono street.
Valencia Hesperides Garden Rill Photo © Alice Joyce
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. Constructed around the Millennium, 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.
Valencia Hesperides Garden Gate Detail Photo © Alice Joyce
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.
Valencia Garden of the Hesperides Arbor Photo © Alice Joyce
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.” In the sophistication of this public park, the Garden of the Hesperides helps to define the spirit of Valencia in the new Millennium with a refreshingly modern landscape design: A layout animated by the historical significance of its Mediterranean plantings, water features, and sculptural focal point.
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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.
Hesperides Pavement Detail Photo © Alice Joyce
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.
Exuberant 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.
Valencia’s Green Zone: the TURIA GARDENS on Alice’s Garden Travel Buzz
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