Gran Canaria’s Viera y Clavijo gardens sparks memories of the Lost Gardens of Heligan in Megavissey.
We didn’t actually find the Lost Gardens of Heligan (obviously well named) and I’m not sure we’d have found the Jardín Botánico Canario Viera y Clavijo, located seven kilometres outside of Las Palmas, if our guide Armando hadn’t taken us there.
The Viera y Clavijo Gardens cover twenty seven hectares of Canarian paradise, protecting and proudly exhibiting 2,000 plants (500 of them endemic)… and it’s virtually devoid of visitors.
Apart from the three of us, there’s a young couple in full bridal wear being photographed in a variety of positions in front of exotic plants – Armando tells us that the gardens are a popular spot for wedding and Holy Communion photographs. The tropical setting should make for some magical matrimonial memories.
The Jardín Botánico Canario Viera y Clavijo was founded by Swedish botanist Erik Ragnar Svensson in 1952 and, apart from being a wild wonderland filled with pines, palms, cacti, ponds, laurisilva and all manner of sub-tropical plants, it is also a centre for conserving, studying and cataloguing Canarian flora.
It’s quite a quirky and tranquil park filled with imaginative and enticingly titled sections such as El Jardín Escondido (The Hidden Garden), La Fuente de los Sabíos (Fountain of the Wise) and El Alpendre (The Farming Implement Shed). Okay, maybe that last one doesn’t sound so enticing, but you catch my drift. There’s a naturalness to it that appeals to me; it’s well looked after but not overly manicured.
Armando takes us on a brief tour, pointing out unusual specimens including an elephant’s foot tree. But our time is short and we aren’t able to investigate the meandering network of paths as much as we’d like and so miss out on the lake and waterfall at the Jardín del Mundo (World Garden). We make a note to return at a later date when we can explore at our leisure.
It’s such a captivating spot that it’s a mystery why there aren’t more people about. Is it lack of publicity? Is it because the website is only in Spanish and therefore many visitors will walk on by in virtual terms?
Armando has a different explanation.
“It’s free to get in,” he says. “Here, if something is free it must mean it has no value. So there’s no reason to visit.”
Whilst the lack of other people lends wandering around the Jardín Botánico Canario Viera y Clavijo an air of exclusivity, it’s a Gran Canaria attraction that really deserves more visitors – a bit like the whole of the north of the island in fact.
Entrance is free and the gardens are open daily from 9am to 6pm