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With fashion magazines and high-end furniture stores doing their best to make cactus plants look cool, their designers should hop on a plane to Lanzarote and take a tour of the Jardín de Cactus where they will find over 1,100 species of this prickly plant.
Not native to the Canary Islands, flowering cacti were brought back to Europe by 15th-century explorers and later prized by botanical collectors who sold rare plants for exorbitant prices. By the late 1,800’s the passion for propagating cactuses was replaced by orchids, yet cacti did not disappear from cultivation.
Lanzarote, painter, sculpture and architect César Manrique took it upon himself to ensure that the commercialization of Lanzarote would not destroy the island's native volcanic beauty and successfully lobbied the government to ban billboard advertising along the island's highways.
Manrique was not only an artist, but also a visionary ecologist, who would look to incorporate his designs in such a way as to blend in with nature, such is the case with the Jardín de Cactus.
Twenty years in the making the Jardín de Cactus would be Manrique’s last great endeavour, with the island’s favourite son being killed in a car crash at the Tahíche roundabout in 1994 aged just 73 years old.
Home to 7,200 Cacti
Housed in a disused quarry, the garden is home to 7,200 cactus plants that are arranged on different levels of the sculptured pit similar to an ancient Roman atrium sun trap where you are protected from the near constant Atlantic trade winds.
As you stroll through the imported Americas wonders that Manrique has so painfully placed to accent the natural rocks, the added water features make the experience seem more like being in an oasis rather than the arid desert that most cacti call home.
When seen against a vivid blue sky, red rock and black volcanic sand, the various cactus shades of green and their brightly coloured flowers explode in such a way that even the most seasoned traveller is blown away by the experience.
The Jardín de Cactus also has a bar where you can stop off for drinks, snacks and tapas while admiring the white Don Quixote-esque windmill on the hill above the gardens.
In the gardens, gift shop, you will find a range of local artisan products together with natural cosmetics and of course cactuses that having been grown in the E.U. can be taken to any other European country that is a member state.
Located in the north-eastern town of Gautiza in the heart of Lanzarote's agricultural centre the Jardín de Cactus is hard to spot unless you keep an eye out for a giant eight-meter-tall cactus just off the main Carretera General del Norte, s/n, 35530 road.
Family friendly and suitable for the disabled the gardens are best visited in the afternoon to avoid the crowds. Make sure to wear comfortable shoes and bring a hat and sunscreen if you are visiting during the summer months.
Opening time and Pricing
The Jardín de Cactus are open seven days a week from 10am until 5.45pm (1 July – 30 September) 9.00am until 17:45