June 25, 2019

Caroline’s Garden Diaries 25.9.2014: Just looking

Needed a walk so I wandered up the hill and walked round the garden of a posh house that you can hire for events, Carmen de los Martires. I’ve always liked it as a place to walk and though never thought it a particularly special garden, it has some nice formal terraces.

It’s been transformed – jumps up my league table of great gardens! Noticed last year they were doing something on what was a hot bare hillside, out of bounds and too steep anyway to walk up; but now there’s new planting and most importantly, paths. So now you can zig-zag up to the walls, the route lined with sculpted lavenders and rosemary, and round each corner, what do you see? New views over the Alhambra, the most stunningly beautiful, interesting and famous palace in Spain, and of all the surrounding mountains.

Returned yesterday to photograph the garden, and also to see if there’s more to it than its views. After all, I had just walked up an even higher hillside outside the city and saw not only the whole of Granada with all its beautiful buildings, but also olive groves, pine forests, Sierra Nevada…… So why is the garden now special? It’s quite a big walled garden set on two hillsides meeting in a little valley. The ups and downs with winding paths are crucial, creating endless views within as well as views without. The walls step down interestingly, and enclosing such a large area (10 acres?), don’t seem restrictive, but just add contrast of colour and structure.

And once I really start looking, then it comes home to me how well chosen and planted are the trees – great collection, including oaks, planes, chestnuts, pines, cedars, olives, acers, Judas trees, ginkgoes (hurray!), brilliant landscaping; Italian cypresses always a winner in that sort of place and there’s new ones along the winding paths.

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