Discovering the hidden gardens of Spain

Posted on July 9, 2018 by Guest Writer

Spain boasts an abundance of gardens, from Madrid’s sprawling Retiro Park to Granada’s glorious Generalife and Alhambra gardens. All well worth visiting, but what about the lesser-known Spanish gardens?

If you fly into southern Spain’s Málaga or Granada, there are many hidden gardens to explore. Here are some you won’t want to miss:

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Jardin Nazari, Velez de Benaudalla, Granada

One of the last Nazarian gardens in Andalusia, this historic, beautifully restored garden is Moorish inspired, echoing five facets of life: The spiritual – a vision of paradise on earth; the aesthetic – stimulation of all the senses for artistic inspiration; the psychological – to help us to relax, contemplate and enjoy; the botanical – to create a place for research by growing new plants brought from other continents; and the nutritional – rich with fruits, vegetables and herbs.

Water meanders throughout the garden, its source being an impressive natural cascade gushing into a channel to carry water to the rest of the garden. Winding paths lead you down a narrow, open staircase carved out of the mountainside. At the bottom you’ll find enchanting fern and moss-filled grotto and another waterfall – refreshing to walk under on a hot day.

Find out more by visiting the Jardin Nazari website.

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Carmen de los Mártires Garden, Granada city

Granada gets so busy that the famous Alhambra Garden can get booked up. If you find yourself in the area, do drop in at Carmen de los Mártires garden, just a few hundred metres away from the Alhambra – it’s free to look around.

The garden boasts luscious foliage at every turn, including Mediterranean palm trees, South African agapanthus and European box hedging, all blending successfully to echo exotic plants from all over the world. There’s a distinct absence of lawns, making it very different from UK gardens. Instead a series of wide, rough pathways breaks up the formal planting areas. The box hedges weave maze-like patterns through the gardens.

Find out more by visiting the Love Granada website.

Jardín de la Alpujarra, Cortijo Opazo, Portugos

Jardín de la Alpujarra perches peacefully on the southern slopes of the majestic Sierra Nevada Mountains.

The British owners, William and Robert, have embraced the challenges of gardening at high altitude (1,250 metres above sea level) while working with distinctly contrasting seasons, so typical of the area. They have created a carefully controlled landscape hosting a wide variety of flora, from native to more ornamental species that have adapted themselves to the unique climatic conditions. These include lavender and rose varieties as well as Choisya (Mexican Orange Blossom), Agapanthus and Gleditsia trees.

Once you’ve meandered through the gardens, take a seat on the terrace, sipping a drink or indulging a home-made cake as you admire the sheer tranquillity of this scenic spot.

Find out more by visiting the Jardín de la Alpujarra website.

Órgiva Tea Garden, Ctjo Las Chimeneas, Órgiva

How much more whimsical can you get in Southern Spain? An English-run tea garden, developed from a dry patch of land overgrown with waist-high weeds into 5,000 square metres of beautiful garden.

Marvel at its Mediterranean plants intermingled with swathes of grasses, lavenders and irises, as well as fruit trees and several shrubs – the irises are particularly magnificent during spring. The trees provide shade but don’t be surprised if you’re sharing the shade with the garden’s chickens and peacocks!

Traditional English teas with all the trimmings – sandwiches, sponge cakes and ice cream – are served in the garden, along with wine, beer or coffee if you prefer. You can also buy fresh produce and local crafts, along with a selection of plants in the nursery section.

There are quizzes and games for the children, plus a menagerie of animals including ducks, geese, pigs and llamas, making the gardens great for all the family.

Find out more by visiting the Órgiva Tea Garden website.