Friday, August 24, 2007

Oaxaca Ethno-Botanical Gardens

Oaxaca, the capital city of the State of Oaxaca, in south- central Mexico, has a lovely 10 year old Ethno-Botanical Garden. It's located behind the beautiful San Domingo Church and the Oaxaca Regional Museum. The Garden is a large space, walled in with colonial-style walls. It is called an "ethno-botanical" garden because the emphasis is on the use the plants of the area have been put to, in the past and currently. The meaning of plants, trees, shrubs, flowers, succulents, cacti, etc in terms of religios meaning, food, medical uses, and everyday household uses, for example.The garden is closed to the public except for people who take the twice weekly two-hour tours of the garden. Cost is 100 pesos, about $9US. There are both English and Spanish speaking tours. I took the English tour, with Carol Turkenik. She did a wonderful job, and never stopped talking for two and a half hours. I think she could have shared her knowledge for days. It was very interesting, and a highlight of my Oaxaca trip.
The garden has a number of water features, including a buried cistern for the garden's water supply. The city of Oaxaca doesn't have enough water for the population, so the garden has a huge buried cistern, so it can be independent. Many of the plants are never watered, except for rainfall, but some plants require supplemental water, especially in the nursery area. The garden has a number of different areas: tropical plants, trees from arid areas, succulents, etc.
There are many succulents in the garden, but most of them were cacti. I am starting to like cacti more than before I moved to Mexico, but I like the spineless succulents much better.I liked the blossomng plants the best. I was surprised to see plants I think of as Hawaiian orgininaly came from the Oaxaca area. According to our tour guide, Oaxaca state was the origin for many many plants now growing all over the world.

If you want to see more photos of Oaxaca go to My Life in Chacala

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