It is not hard to believe that the ancient Greeks placed the mythical Garden of the Marchioness of Arucas, also known as the Garden of the Hesperides in the Canary Islands. Here in Arucas, where the plants flourish and the climate is like eternal spring, you feel transported to that earthly paradise, where the trees put forth golden apples of immortality, cared for by the nymphs called the Hesperides, who were guarded by the fierce hundredheaded dragon Ladon. According to the myth, even though the dragon was slain by the titan Atlas, its descendants are still alive in the shape of the dragon trees (Dracaena draco) that sprang up where its blood fell. One magnificent 200-year-old specimen dominates the old part of this garden. When the bark is broken, a dark red sap leaks out – ‘dragon’s blood’, possessed of curative properties. Sacred to the indigenous Canarians, the guanches, the tree is still symbolic of the Canary Islands.
Covering 5 hectares near Las Palmas, the Jardín de la marquesa de Arucas is divided into old and new parts. The old part was designed by a French landscape architect around 1880 to complement the house built for the 1st Marquis of Arucas, Ramón Madam y Uriondo.
Thanks to the tropical climate, this outdoor room was used all the year round. The layout follows nineteenthcentury convention with paths –covered with the local lava– that wind through irregularly shaped borders. Picturesque touches include a mossclad grotto and a lakeside pavilion. A folly in the shape of a castle, doubling as a viewpoint, crowns an artificial mountain.
The marquis, founder of a prosperous local sugar refinery, was an enthusiastic botanist, and the collection of araucarias surrounding the house is part of his legacy. Sheltered by the side of a mountain, the Montaña de Arucas, and with the sea close at hand, the Jardín de la marquesa de Arucas enjoys a generous microclimate that has allowed these and other exotic trees including jacarandas, rubber plants and chorisias to flourish.
In 1990 the family extended the Jardín de la marquesa de Arucas and opened it to the public. To complete the display of tropical and subtropical species begun by the 1st Marquis, hundreds of varieties of palms have been planted, forming an paradisal landscape that is unmissable for anyone who wants to grasp the essence of Gran Canaria. Surrounded by banana trees which supply fruit to all of Spain, the garden envelops you in its velvety air and sweet scents, carrying you back to the Golden Age.
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