“ Botanical Gardens located near Barcelona, Spain. „
On my recent trip to Spain I decided to pluck up courage and visit Blanes. I say, courage because you do have to have a strong constitution to visit this busy package-holiday resort especially at the end of August.
Blanes is 25 kilometres south of Girona, the southernmost resort in the Costa Brava. Twenty years ago it was once a pretty little fishing village and like most tiny villages along the Spanish coast they have been taken over by development - high rise blocks of apartments spread along its sandy beach.
My visit wasn't to actually take in the town or the ugly development it was to visit the Marimurta Botanical Gardens which are situated at the top of the town, behind the port/marina. This is a very hilly road and doesn't have many parking spaces so best to catch one of the regular buses that go all the way to the Botanical Gardens. Buses will be marked ' Jardin Botanic' and the price is just over 2 Euros for a return ticket.
On arrival at reception/payment office you will be issued an entrance ticket, and an information brochure briefly describing the gardens and a map, indicating how the gardens have been split into three different areas; sub tropical, maritime and temperate. The brochure is printed in several different languages including English, Spanish, French and German.
The Marimurta Gardens were established at the turn of the century by a German businessman, Karl Faust, and are now maintained by the International Station of Mediterranean Biology, a centre of education and research.
The gardens are beautifully situated overlooking the sea, very well maintained and are a pleasure to wander round discovering plants which have proliferated on the coast, many of which were imported in the last century from South America. For example: the century plant, or agave. Also my favourite plant from South Africa, the hottentot fig with its bright purple daisy like flowers with pale yellow centres. I am also very partialled to a cactus having grown several different varieties from cuttings on my land in Portugal so I instantly fell in love with the cactus garden. Magnolias are another fine flower and one I have always admired. I love the very dark green waxy leaves of the shrub and the almost pure white of the petals. I would say we spent around two to two and a half hours walking round and stopped every now and again to look at some very stunning views of the ocean.
There are a couple of rooms near to the entrance of the gardens. These are available so you can sit and take a break and work out which bits of the gardens you want to see. The rooms are clean and free of litter. Also, a cafe is open for visitors and this is centrally situated.
Blanes itself is not a very nice town but the gardens really are a special gem and worth taking time to visit. You don't have to have a degree in botany to stroll around the gardens - all plants are clearly described using popular names as well as Latin names.
Here's a tip if you are still in a gardening frame of mind when you have finished the tour of the Marimurta Gardens, especially if you have a car, continue on the inland road for about 12 miles to Mataro and there join the motorway again. Keep a good lookout for the flower market. It is a modern warehouse, set back a little from the road on the right, four miles south of Mataro. Inside you will find a variety of colourful and healthy plants for sale mainly to the trade - this is where the flower sellers of Barcelona's famous Rambla come to buy. Roses and carnations are everywhere and the perfume inside is wonderful if a little heady.