Darwinian Gardeners Day Out
The November event of the gardening club was a coach trip to Elche, which, because of the concentration of between two and three hundred thousand palm trees, is a Unesco World heritage site. It is believed that the presence of so many palms dates back to Phoenaecian times, 2,500- 3,000 years ago.
The main focus of our visit was the Huerto del Cura, a 13,000 square metre garden which includes more than a thousand palm trees and many varieties of other plants, all beautifully landscaped, with pools, fountains and delightful shady walks and seats
The garden is well over a hundred years old, and was developed by a local priest, Jose Castaño Sanchez, who owned it until 1918, hence the name, which translates as garden of the priest.
Across the road from this garden is the Museum of Palms, which includes among its displays much information about, and examples of the traditional intricate palm leaf craftwork which is a speciality of the city, and is made from bleached palm leaves. The leaves are covered by black fabric or plastic hoods which prevent them from turning green. The museum also has a garden which demonstrates traditional irrigation methods.
After a leisurely lunch we returned to the coach and eventually arrived at the Carmen del Campillo, near Catral. This garden has been developed along with the house and all the buildings during the last 36 years by its owner, who started with an empty field.
Totally enclosed from the surrounding countryside by tall trees and walls, this garden has very much the feel of a traditional arabic setting. There are hedges creating tiny courtyards some with pools or water features, and many pleasant seating areas where visitors can be served drinks and snacks. An aviary and arabic style music complete the exotic ambience.
Altogether a most enjoyable day.
The Darwinian Gardeners are an initiative of the Humanists of Murcia. Other activities organised by the humanists include two monthly walks, one easier and one harder, a monthly games evening, a philosophy group, and a discussion group. Most of our activities culminate in lunch or dinner.
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