Oaxaca never ceases to amaze the eyes and delight the palate. You can find everything from cultural sites like Monte Alban and beautiful beaches such as Puerto Escondido and Huatulco to the flavors of artisanal mezcal. This mesmerizing state will always have you itching to discover more.
While the entire city of Oaxaca feels special, there is one particular place that has a special charm: the Ethnobotanical Garden of Oaxaca. This space, filled with vegetation endemic to the region, unites history, art, sustainability, and nature.
From Convent to Oasis
The garden is part of the Cultural Center of Santo Domingo. It is located inside a former convent built between the 16th and 17th centuries that later became military barracks. In 1993, when the site was at risk of destruction for the sake of a luxury hotel, painter Francisco Toledo and the Asociación Civil Pro Oaxaca stepped in to make their voice heard. This is how the project was born to rescue the old building and create a botanical garden that would represent and preserve Oaxaca state’s biodiversity.
In this mini oasis, history and nature are closely tied. Located in the convent’s former orchard, the garden is still home to the preserved irrigation canals, drainage, reservoirs, lime kilns, laundries, and ceramic kilns used many lives ago.
The Biodiversity of Oaxaca
The 100 species inhabiting the garden are endemic to eight different regions of Oaxaca. This includes ecosystems such as temperate rainforests, cold mountainous areas, and tropical zones. The space successfully tells a story through the beautiful vegetation it hosts. It divides the flora according to cultural and ecological themes, making the experience all the more coherent and fascinating.
In addition, the Ethnobotanical Garden is considered by the Canadian Garden Council as one of the ten most important gardens in North America. This recognition was obtained not only by having 10% of the total flora of Oaxaca present in its 2.3 hectares, but also because of the spectacular design by Francisco Toledo and Luis Zárate.
A Sustainable Space
With impressively tall cacti and bright blue agave plants, the site’s beauty is undeniable. While every inch is unique, the unmissable stops are the famous cacti reflecting pond and the Patio Huaje. The latter functions as a space to raise awareness about the importance of preserving the nature of the state—a premise that remains in the memory of every visitor that goes.
Also, to further the conservation of endemic vegetation, the garden has various initiatives such as a seed bank, herbarium, workshops, and plant donations. Their library specializes in flora, ecology, natural history, and ethnobiology. It also regularly hosts workshops and talks on the themes.
Keep in mind that…
Visits are by guided tour only, and you should be there at least five minutes before they begin. Spanish tours take place from Monday to Saturday. English tours can be accessed on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Stop by the gates to check the time slots.
Adapted and translated by Evan Upchurch
Click here to check out the original post in Spanish.
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