There is a large estate outside Guanajuato, once owned by a wealthy silver-mining family, with 17 small and exquisite gardens that the public can visit. In past years the land where the gardens are situated was used for processing silver using the patio system whereby silver ore would be finely crushed, mixed with salt, water, copper sulfate and mercury, and spread out on the patios to dry before being melted into bars and shipped off to Spain. At one time the Valenciana silver mine in Guanajuato was the most productive in the world and the Barrera family that owned the estate was very connected to the mine and used all available land for silver processing.
But times changed and in 1947 Elisa Baz de Armida, who then owned the property, transformed it, establishing the series of gardens. In 1979 the government took over and today you can visit the gardens as well as a museum that shows you how life was lived by the wealthy in those times.
Each of the 17 gardens has been given a name and you’re taken around the world and through many styles of landscaping as you walk through them.
The Jardin Mexicano has lots of cactus and agave plants and they say that it is very colourful in summer when in bloom. I like how the ‘organ pipe’ cactus is used as a backdrop, a living fence of sorts.
The Italian garden has a fountain surrounded by a cobblestone patio and clipped evergreen. A variety of herbs fill terra cotta containers.
The garden of the orange trees is meant for meditation. There is a slender fountain at its centre.
The stairway that leads from the pergola garden goes to a leafy oasis that reminds me of those I’ve seen in ancient Chinese gardens.
The English garden is a woodland of trees and soft carpets of grass. The Roman garden is structured to resemble a room with green carpets, hanging lamps, stained glass and a lovely blue flower vase.
The garden of St. Francis is a lovely space, perhaps my favourite–exquisite and intimate. You can see the statue of St. Francis in the distance as you walk up the stairs and under a stone arch.
There’s an oriental garden with yellow roses, Japanese sprouts and a raised alabaster vase, a garden of the cross, and a seashell garden. There’s a garden for the queen. And of course one for roses, one for lilies and another for lilacs.
There is a garden of the big galley with climbing plants and quarry furniture and a two level garden of the small galley with a quarry carved counter and tile roof.
There are different water features, some quite unique, and many pots. An assortment of materials and styles have been used so come prepared to be inspired and perhaps adapting some of the elements in your garden back home.
I almost had the property to myself on the day I visited and took advantage of the peace, slowly retracing my steps using the map they provided. So don’t rush the visit if this sort of experience appeals to you.
I took at taxi there from Guanajuato. They suggest you go to the nearby Hotel Misión Guanajuato to order a taxi back to the city and I did that and it worked out just fine.
By Sylvia Fanjoy
Photo credits Sylvia Fanjoy
© Riding the buses™ 2015