If I stood on tip toes and looked towards Santa Cruz I could see the oil refinery, and below my feet the huge landfill mountain contained years of rubbish, but all around me was a green expanse of 3,000 plants and the crown jewels of the palm tree world. Palmetum botanical gardens are an amazing testament to the vision of the Tenerife capital and the Fundacion Santa Cruz Sostenible.
Built over 20 years the 12 hectare site has 1,400 species of fauna including 70 near extinction and 14 under critical threat. The layout blends together different zones with imported plants from Madagascar, Hawaii, Borneo, Australia, Indo China and South America and many more. Wide concrete paths wind their way around the clumps of trees, lakes, and waterfalls. I had to keep checking the miradors to remind me I was above the modern edge of the city, the elevated setting allows some great views over the city, down the coast, and out to sea beyond the majestic Auditorium.
I was in a party of 40 people, our wheelchair user had no problems with the sensitively arranged paths, and in between our guide’s knowledgeable introduction to the trees and flowers, others grabbed a reflective break at one of the benches scattered around at suitable vantage points. We all wanted a taste of the Australian citrus fruit, Noni, produced from a hidden bag behind the Morinda Citrifolia tree that bore them. The variety and beauty of the palm trees opened our eyes to the overlooked attractions of these sturdy shade givers.
Creating this Eden is just a start. Saplings were being nurtured under protective nets, a large area has been earmarked for a quiet area to relax in, and the enclosed Octogono in the centre had trailing plants in the early stages of their journey to cover an entrance wall. The wildlife population is growing all the time, dragonflies hovered over the lakes and the Palmetum is a welcome first touchdown for birds migrating through the Canary Islands. The changing seasons will ensure new wonders on each visit and extensive overhead lighting makes it possible to have evening tours.
The 20 year wait has allowed the park to mature like a fine wine, many of the palm trunks display their years of growth as different shaded rings. On the outskirts of the park there are vents to ensure that any waste fermentation going on down below can easily escape but I didn’t have any cause to hold my nose, there are so many of nature’s own scents to enjoy. Amazingly only six regular gardeners maintain the whole area, I was impressed that its neat but not too tightly cropped, leaves and flowers are allowed to lap over the path edges making for great photo opportunities and a chance to feel nature’s textures. The Californian pine was popular with its strong thick needles, not the flimsy sort to carpet the soil floor. This new “island in the city” as the posters proclaim it, is one of the more inspired additions to the capital.
Palmetum, Avenida de La Constitucion – next to Parque Maritimo pool complex; info@ santacruzsostenible.com; (0034) 922534477ext 317 or 318; free entrance until at least 17 November 2013 then a nominal fee of around 2 euros; tour times are changeable in these early days so check before traveling.
Category : days out
Subscribe : RSS 2.0