Within the epic walls of the Centro Cultural de Santo Domingo, surrounding four square blocks of the Centro Historico of Oaxaca City, is the unique Jardin Etnobotanico de Oaxaca. Far more than an ornamental garden, it’s called ETNO-botanico, because the plants living in the beautiful space tell the story of the historic interaction between the people and plants of the region, as much as the botany.
A glimpse of the garden through a window in the wall.
The former monastery of Santo Domingo was occupied by the Mexican army for 120 years and when the 5 acres was vacated in 1994, the government had a development plan in the works to utilize the magnificent space for a hotel complex. But The People had other ideas and when the dust settled, the JardÍn EtnobotÁnico de Oaxaca had been born. Then the hard work began, bringing in large specimens of plants from around Oaxaca, the state with the greatest biodiversity in Mexico.
Entrance to the garden is by guided tour only.
Open to visitors on official tours only, there are 3 each week in English, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, for 2 hours beginning at 11 in the morning. There were 8 of us on the day I visited and our guide, Carol, was a knowledgeable and no-nonsense long-time American resident of the city. We were told to not touch anything, nor were we allowed to leave the group at any time, advised that the gardeners would be upset if they found an unaccompanied visitor. I would like to have wandered on my own, but the tour was comprehensive, informative and leisurely enough to take plenty of pictures, my lagging tolerated, which I appreciated. I recommend a visit to any visitors to the city, garden addicts like myself or just lovers of the natural world in a grand historic setting.
Corn, squash and beans interplanted in the traditional way.
Plants with Defenses
Read more about the garden:
Next week, one more market, Oaxaca's largest, Mercado de Abastos.
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