A stroll around Gibraltar No. 15: Alameda Gardens Part 3 (The Green Men)

 

Regular readers of Postcard from Gibraltar will know that one of my favourite places in Gibraltar is the Alameda Botanical Gardens. So far I have published two posts dedicated solely to this beautiful green space we are lucky enough to have on our doorstep. No matter what the season, there is always something of beauty there. You can find my previous posts them here and here.


Anyone who’s visited the gardens in the past few months will have noticed the arrival of several wooden sculptures, from an ape to plants and now some mythical characters are lurking amongst the trees. They have all been created to mark the bi-centenary of the botanical gardens, and were created by environmental artist Paul Sivell.


The first I heard of the new arrivals was on Instagram, where photos have been appearing recently. As we are enjoying such gorgeous sunny autumnal weather at the moment, I took myself off for a lovely walk earlier this week to investigate.

The sun was shining and although it’s well into autumn, the place is still as green and lush as ever. On my way to find the Green Men I passed a few of the other large wooden sculptures.

Pine cones
South African Protea
 

This ape sits above carvings of two of the Rock’s national plant species the Gibraltar Campion and Gibraltar Candytuft.


I found myself in one of the most beautiful spots in the gardens, the Lions Pond. Here is where the Green Men are hiding.


But where are they? 


Can you spot any of them?


There are four of them in total and they are all stunning.


I don’t know whether they have names. I think they should do – don’t you?




How wonderful to have these wise faces looking out at you from the trunks of these beautiful mature trees.


They are such a wonderful addition to the Lions Pond area.


If you should find yourself in the Alameda Gardens, I really would recommend you seeking out the Green Men and paying them a visit.


 

A stroll around Gibraltar No.11 : Alameda Gardens Part 2

Hello there, following on with last week’s A stroll around Gibraltar No.10: Devil’s Gap Battery , I thought I’d revisit one of my favourite places here, the Alameda Botanical Gardens. A few months back I took you on a stroll here in A stroll around Gibraltar No 7 but there is so much to see in this beautiful green oasis that I reckon it’s worth more than one trip. Plus, this year is a big one for the Botanical Gardens as it’s celebrating its 200th birthday.

During the past year or so, there has been a lot of work done here, especially in the top section along the avenue close to the Rock Hotel. Flower beds have been cleared and improved, sculptures have been added and a rather impressive glass house has been built.

As you can see in these photos, it’s an impressive structure surrounded with beautiful planting.

So what’s inside? Orchids, lots and lots of beautiful orchids…..

They are planted around a small pond and waterfall as well as hanging from trees as they would grow naturally in their natural habitats in Asia.

Apologies for the slightly dodgy quality of these pictures, I had to take them through the window. The orchid house was officially opened towards the end of April and it was open to the public for several hours on the big day. Sadly, I didn’t find out about it until too late, so missed my chance to see these beauties up close and personal. I keep trying the door whenever we visit to see if it’s open, but unfortunately it’s not been so far.

I’m sure you’ll agree with me that it is absolutely stunning. What a great way to celebrate the bicentenary of the gardens. I just hope that it will be maintained in its current state as it’s just gorgeous right now.

In addition to the orchid house and new planting, quite a few of these wooden tree stump sculptures have sprung up about the place. I love the deep orangey shade to the wood. I’m sure the colour will change as it matures over time but I do like it in it’s freshly sawn condition.

When I did my last stroll around the Alameda Gardens I was rather sad that I wasn’t able to include a part of the gardens which is very special to me. Just a little further along the avenue from the new orchid house is a shady woodland area with a stream and waterfalls running through it and a pond at the bottom. I think it’s known as the Lions Pond as the Lions Gibraltar Charity helped fund it when it was built several decades ago. When I went to photograph the area I was sad to see the pond had been drained and there were signs up to say that the area had been vandalised.

One of the joys of living in Gibraltar is that there is very little anti-social behaviour and vandalism in public places (certainly a lot less than in some of the places I’ve lived in the UK). I was so shocked and saddened to find that the pond had been blighted in such a way. But imagine my delight when I strayed back into the woodland area a few weeks back and found this:

Not only had it all been cleaned out, it had been replanted and refilled and was looking even more beautiful than I had ever seen it before.

A year or so after we first moved to Gibraltar a very special visitor came to stay with us: my Gran. She was in her 90s when she flew over to see us with my Mum. She wasn’t too steady on her feet but she wanted to see as much as she could of our new home and as we lived close to the Alameda Gardens at the time, and she was a plant lover, she naturally wanted to explore a bit here. I vividly remember her sitting on the bench overlooking the Lions pond as the little Postcards (there were just 2 at the time) spied into the water looking for fish.

Unfortunately Gran is no longer with us but I always think of her when I come to this peaceful shady spot and I think she would greatly approve of all the hard work which has gone into sprucing it up. It looks just beautiful.

It’s not just the top section of the gardens which are looking fine at the minute, many of the other flower beds are blooming too. These African daisies are just stunning with their purple and orange centres.

I have no idea what the name of this flower is, but there are quite a few in the gardens and I rather like them too!

Another of the wooden sculptures:

Please excuse the gratuitous floral close-ups, I was playing with my camera when I went on this stroll ;-).

I love the lavender flower bed in this raised area, the perfume’s amazing.

Nestling in among some of the flower beds are some headstones. I really don’t know why they are here (other than to mark the graves of people of course) but why they were buried in the gardens is a question I don’t have the answer to right now (one to research later).

If you read my last stroll around the Alameda Gardens Part 1, you may remember seeing the beautiful children’s garden tended by the Alameda Gardening Club. It had a bee hotel and lots of herbs and other eatables growing. That’s not the only children’s plot in the gardens, there’s also this very well kept veg garden at the southern most end close to the Wildlife Park.

I know of a few children who have benefitted from coming to the Alameda Gardening Club, and it’s a very valuable resource for the children of Gibraltar, the vast majority of which grow up without a garden of their own. The leaders do a truly wonderful job inspiring the young gardeners.

So there you go, I have taken you for a walk along the top avenue of the Alameda and it leads us up to this point where you can see the Bay of Gibraltar glistening through the trees. I’m sure you’ll agree with me it’s a really marvellous green space and one which is much needed in such a built up environment. I always feel so much better after a visit. This isn’t goodbye though, I’ll be back for another stroll here before too long, because there’s still more for me to show you.

Thanks for joining me, I hope to see you soon.