Magnificent Manrique

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As Gaudi proved in Barcelona, an individual can change the landscape of an area for all time, and in Lanzarote, where I spent last week, César Manrique was such an individual.

Looking through over a hundred photos I’d taken in four different venues he’d created, I was struggling to find one which I felt captured what makes him special, and ultimately I settled on the one above.  Although not ideal, as other visitors have intruded on the shot and there aren’t many plants, I feel it demonstrates a certain rule breaking mentality, as well as a keen sense of humour.

The photo was taken in the ‘Jardin de Cactus,’ created by Manrique together with botanist Estanislao González Ferrer, largely in the 1980’s.  It is located in a disused quarry towards the north of the island, which not only gives an impressive amphitheatre effect, but also ensures the garden is protected from Lanzarote’s fierce winds (which, during our visit, never ceased to blow).  

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The garden contains more than 7,200 cactus plants, illustrating more than 1,100 different species, and have been sourced from countries such as Peru, Mexico, Chile, United States, Kenya, Tanzania, Madagascar and Morocco as well as the Canary Islands.  They were planted in soil which was then ‘top dressed’ with the local black volcanic ‘dust.’  To be honest, I generally found the island’s black landscape quite depressing, but here in the cactus garden, Manrique has made it a real asset.

The following three plants from the garden are hardly recognisable as Euphorbia, but are as follows: E. Stenoclada, (from Madagascar), E. Polyacantha (Ethiopia) and E. Abyssinica (also Ethiopia).

Unfortunately many of the other plants in the garden were unnamed and my cactus knowledge is  far too poor to be able to identify them, so I’ve just grouped them according to “pink,”

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“white,”

and, of course, “spiky.”

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