Posts Tagged ‘Jardín Etnobotánico de Oaxaca’

Be it looking down from the windows above, strolling through the gardens on a tour, or peeking through openings in the wall on Reforma or Berriozabal on the way to someplace else, Oaxaca’s Ethnobotanical Garden is always a soothing and uplifting sight.

Looking out from window above Ethnobotanical Garden

Check out this informative and enlightening article by Jeff Spurrier discussing the origins and vision of  Oaxaca’s Ethnobotanical Garden — from the Jan/Feb 2012 issue of Garden Design:

Oaxaca’s Ethnobotanical Garden

“I am not a gardener.” Francisco Toledo is sitting in the courtyard of the graphic art institute he founded in downtown Oaxaca City, Mexico, sipping on a glass of agua de jamaica. His fingers are paint-smudged, and he moves stiffly from a sore back. Toledo, 71, is one of Mexico’s best-known living artists; his paintings, sculptures, and textiles are in galleries and museums around the world. At home in Mexico, he is identified with a fierce and outspoken defense of the indigenous arts and culture of the southern state of Oaxaca. He also, as it turns out, helped to create one of the world’s most original public gardens.

“The professionals are the people who live in the country,” he says. “The campesinos and workers — I don’t have the patience.”

Nearly 20 years ago, the Mexican military moved out of a 16th-century Santo Domingo monastery complex it had used as a base for more than 120 years. Mexico’s president gave the exit order after being lobbied by Toledo and other leading artists and intellectuals belonging to Pro-Oax, an advocacy group urging the promotion and protection of art, culture, and the natural environment in Oaxaca. Soon, a great clamor began: The state government wanted the five-acre parcel in the heart of downtown Oaxaca City to create a hotel, convention center, and parking facility. A restoration team brought in by the National Institute of Anthropology and History wanted to establish a European garden in the 17th-century baroque style. Some of Toledo’s fellow artists wanted to use the grounds for workshops and exhibition space.

n 1993, when Toledo knew the army would be leaving, he asked Alejandro de Ávila B., who had family roots in Oaxaca and training in anthropology, biology, and linguistics, what he and other advocates would propose. De Ávila suggested making the space into a botanic garden — or, more precisely, an ethnobotanic garden, one that would “show the interaction of plants and people.”

I highly recommend reading the Full Article.

h/t  Norma and Roberta

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… and then there was the “Exploring Oaxaca for Mammillaria and Echeveria” lecture, sponsored by the Oaxaca Garden and Nature Club.

The lecture was held at the Jardín Etnobotánico de Oaxaca. The gardens are part of the magnificent old monastery complex of Santo Domingo, and have a storied history. The Dominican Order began construction in 1570; during the revolution, the buildings were used to house the cavalry; at one time it was “made available” to the Universidad Autónoma Benito Juárez de Oaxaca; and in 1994 citizens protested plans to turn the grounds into a luxury hotel/convention center. Oaxacan artist and benefactor, Francisco Toledo and his foundation, Pro-Oax came to the rescue. The original impressive underground cistern system was uncovered and put into use and an (almost) 6-acre ethnobotanical garden was established to preserve, protect, and propagate Oaxaca’s rich biodiversity, that has nourished the people’s and their culture of this valley for thousands of years.

Garden at Jardín Etnobotánico de Oaxaca

The speaker, John Pilbeam, is from England and leads expeditions to Oaxaca every year in a quest to see various cactus and succulents in their natural habitat.  He is a 70-year-old man with that wonderfully dry British sense of humor that he used throughout the talk… definitely not boring! I learned a lot, even the name of one of my favorite rooftop garden plants:

Echeveria Pulvinata "Ruby" at Casita Colibrí

Echeveria Pulvinata "Ruby"

The icing on the day’s cake, was John sat next to me at the luncheon that followed at La Olla and we had several delightful conversations throughout the meal, including his stories of growing up in World War II, London.

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