Francine had knowledge of a couple of gardens in the near vicinity that she fancied visiting. She flipped a mental coin and it came up [or is that down?] L’Albarda Jardin Mediterráneo.
L’Albarda’s little leaflet says:
L’Albarda is a benchmark in the world of Mediterranean gardening. It has an area of 50,000 m2 in which there are 700 species of indigenous plants and a large collection of roses. The L’Albarda garden belongs to Fundem, a foundation for the conservation of fauna and flora of the Mediterranean.
OK, so the middle of winter is not the most obvious time to go and visit a garden, there being little in flower. However, our 5€ a head entrance fee got us a warm welcome and a map in English.
The large house in the grounds is still private … and pink. Whilst you can’t go into the house, there is a café and, most importantly, toilets. You can walk around the veranda, though, and overlook the swimming pool. A Serin (Serinus serinus) was chattering away nineteen to the dozen in a nearby tree.
In common with many such gardens, the planting is subdivided and landscaped into a few different themes including, in this case, a Valencian garden, a formal garden and a “Maple Forest” containing a pond. We were initially a little confused not seeing any maples until the penny dropped, as had all the maple leaves, this being winter. Of course we couldn’t see any obvious maples. Duh!
The pond on the map had me a little excited but, alas, it looked deep, maybe to accommodate the waterfall, concrete and essentially sterile. There was a so-called Heron Pond which looked more promising, i.e. less sterile, but it was quite shaded and again I drew a blank. Many formal gardens have water features but sadly they are for the most part manicured and ornamental/sterile rather than habitats for wildlife. We did find steps leading off the map and surprisingly to an additional pond which looked like work-in-progress. It was also slightly less sterile with some marginal water plants. We stared. A dragonfly buzzed by and settled on the ground. Wow, my latest ever, beating my previous record by about three weeks. ‘T was a Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum) as would be expected.
We followed a course around the map and managed to orientate a lost English lady who seemed to have no idea quite where she was, despite having a map. Our last port of call was the Valencian garden complete with a moderately interesting pergola affair that was covered in climbing roses, some of which still supported rather tired blooms. Tired or not, Francine set about a multiple exposure experiment. Well, it’s something to play with. 🙂
Nearby, on one edge of the Valencian garden, was a so-called English pond. Again, it was quite shaded and I didn’t expect another success. Being English, there was some backlit Pussy Willow which gave me a chance to play, this time with focus-stacking. I think I’m settling on some different customer settings for this Olympus camera. Going through about four levels of menu each time you decide to focus-stack is too time consuming.
L’Albarda was a refreshing diversion for a couple of hours and I’m sure it deserves a repeat visit in a season when more of the plants are actually in flower. Pleasant enough, though, especially with a record-breaking dragonfly.