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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

A Botanical Garden in MVD

For those of you who don't know it yet or need a reminder, the seasons down here in South America are the reverse of what's happening up North. While my calendar says, the month of October, normally Autumn/Fall in the USA, it's really only just hitting springtime here, think April.

This last month has been rainy, windy and cold just like a chilly March in Seattle. I did have some daffodils come up a month ago, which I enjoyed looking at but personally, I can't really enjoy gardening or being in one when it's cold.  The good thing about Uruguay is that just when you think you will develop a permanent depression from the lack of sunshine due to overcast days and chilling winds, along comes a hot and sunny day thrown into the mix. We get several of those each month and then you are surprising wearing shorts during the day, when just the night before you went to bed in your robe and wearing a knit hat to keep warm.

I was hoping for such a day to show up because a visitor was planning to come to Uruguay for a vacation trip. Well, after a week of cold and rain, I at least got a slightly warmer but overcast day to play tour guide with. I traveled by bus down to Montevideo and we met at Tres Cruces, a shopping mall and bus station combo in downtown Montevideo.

There, we hoped on a bus, across the street from the mall, on Avenida Artigas and caught the # 187 bus to travel up to the Botanical Garden/Jardín Botánico. It's located in the area called the Prado.

Avenida 19 de Abril, a beautiful neighborhood called El Prado
Beware that there are 2, number 187 buses. You have to take the one that says, 187 Paso Molino (molino, means "mill" and paso can mean, "passing/passage" among other things), otherwise you'll end up in a slightly different place. From Tres cruces the bus fare was only 21 pesos. My friend had studied horticulture with a one time idea of becoming a landscape architect, so a trip to a public garden seemed appropriate. Besides, you know me, the entrance to the garden is free!

Notice the cool artsy mail box on the first house, it looks like an African mask
The Prado neighborhood has some beautiful grand old houses in it, many of which have been converted into schools and other such things because of their size. The neighborhood is well-treed.

After asking everybody on the bus when we should jump off the consensus was to pass a grocery store called Tienda Inglésa and that we would then be at the backside of the garden on Avenida Atilio Pelosi, located at address 11700 (in MVD). After a little old lady kept saying get off now! We jumped off the bus and walked 1/2 a block to the entrance.

The garden was established by Professor, Atilio Lombardo. On arriving, I just had to have an obligatory picture taken of myself, to show I was there. I often don't get included in my blog because I am the photographer in the family.

Mono means one; I was told that the rest of the sign means; the first leaf/s showing on an emerging shoot.
The second photo directly above is not a monument to Professor A. Lombardo but rather that of       Dr. Albert Boeger, a German Agronomy engineer (study of crop production) from Westfalia, Germany.  In 1911/12 the ROU (government of Uruguay) contacted him to come and start a program for the betterment of principals of cultivation. In 1914 he founded "La Estanzuela" near Colonia (Uruguay) later called (1919), the National Seed Institution... to investigate the study and selection of seeds, particularly wheat seeds to cultivate in this country. In 1918, his research team released the first Uruguayan wheat varieties. He continued in the forefront of this research until his death in 1957. He has a plaza named after him near Colonia.

The Wikipedia says that a botanical garden is a well tended area displaying a wide range of plants labeled with their botanical names. It may contain specialized plant collections ..., plants from particular parts of the world and so on. There maybe green houses and shade houses again with special collections such as tropical plants.....

This botanical garden has divided itself into regions like Uruguay, Africa and Asia along with their plants, so you can essentially walk around the world during a visit, plant-wise.

According to this wiki definition, the garden that I visited in the Prado neighborhood is a true botanical garden, although many of the plant labels are sadly worn or missing. Even if you are not into plant identification the garden is just nice to walk around in. I would recommend waiting until better weather to do so.

The last photo shows what's called Cypress trees' knees. When the roots need to breath they send these up in wet soil.
When you get tired of strolling through the garden it's also a great place just to sit in, especially under a grand shade tree.

The wiki article talked about green houses and I found one, knocked on the door and asked if I could go inside. There was a man inside and he said, he didn't think so. Then a beautiful little girl about 7 or 8 years old, said she would run and go ask her mother, if we could come inside. Sure enough a lovely lady came to the door and said yes, I could come inside. So guest and I started wandering around the hot house. We asked, if it has to be heated during these cold months and she said yes, they have a heating unit to do so. It's naturally hot in summer.

At first, the greenhouse looked pretty no nonsense but as we were allowed to explore on our own, it became quite magical. We stepped through an old interior doorway and the elegance of the structure showed itself.

The glass was dirty but the iron framed window panes were truly lovely. I could see why the little girl wanted us to see what she and her mother get to enjoy.

After the greenhouse visit, we went in search of the museum but sadly the sign said that it was permanently closed for reformation.

I guess that means renovation and repairs. It has been closed, for a while now, since last year (2012), it was also closed. I guess the use of the word "permanente" means, don't bother asking us when it will reopen. I did ask however, if I could step inside and take a photo from the doorway. They said, yes/Sí.

Then we sat on this bench and looked at the lovely planted urn. Since this is early in the growing season, I sadly missed, seeing the outside of the museum in all of its glory. I have seen photos of the ivy covered facade and it was gorgeous! As I was looking at the bare and twisting branches, I couldn't help but think, I will now suggest not coming here until everything is in full bloom or leaf in this case.

In the future I want to go to the (somewhat) nearby Japanese garden behind the Blane Museum, also in the Prado area. I wanted to do that on this visit as well but unfortunately my visitor had aching legs having walked throughout Old town (ciudad viejo) and Montevideo on first arriving here in Uruguay a day earlier. I would and will next time on visiting this neighborhood just hail a taxi cab (quite reasonably priced here) and indulge my longings. Even I, know when to splurge, just a little, to be able to stroll down a garden lane.