As you all know, I love to travel, and have journeyed to many, many countries around the world. Whether I am traveling for business or pleasure, I am always inspired by the various cultures, foods and architectural styles.
My head gardener, Ryan McCallister, also enjoys traveling, and often shares photos of the places he visits. This summer, Ryan spent some time in Spain and toured the Alhambra, among the most visited places in all of Europe. This sprawling ancient hilltop fortress complex includes royal palaces, serene patios, reflecting pools from the Nasrid dynasty, and the fountains and orchards of the Generalife gardens.
Enjoy these photos from Ryan's trip.
Ryan enjoys visiting historic gardens whenever he can. This was his first time touring the ancient citadel of Alhambra.
Here is the entrance and map to La Alhambra – about six-thousand visitors walk through each day.
La Alhambra sits atop the hill al-Sabika, on the left bank of the river Darro, east of the city of Granada. It was originally constructed in 889. After years of neglect, the Moorish king of Grenada renovated it in the 11th century. It was converted into a royal palace in 1333. European scholars rediscovered Alhambra in the 19th century and have been restoring it ever since.
This is the entrance to the Generalife garden area, built as a recreational space for the Nasrid kings, an escape from the life of the Alhambra.
There were many fountains and orange trees everywhere in the garden.
The ancient fountains were all made of stone.
This is a wall of glorious jasmine – a vigorous climber, which bears numerous star shaped scented small flowers.
Tall cypress trees line many paths. Cypress trees have a straight trunk that tapers at the base, giving it a soaring perspective. They can grow 50 to 80 feet tall with a spread of 20 to 30 feet.
Generalife’s New Gardens, also known as the Rose Gardens were created in 1931 by architect, Leopoldo Torres Balbas. It includes a labyrinth of cypress trees built to depict a medieval agricultural settlement.
The meticulous formations take decades to train and grow.
This is how they train them – they wrap branches onto the metal forms, so the foliage grows as directed.
Here is a view looking at the tops of the hedges.
This is an arbor of wisteria. a genus of flowering plants in the pea family, Fabaceae, that includes 10-species of woody climbing vines native to the Eastern United States and to China, Korea, and Japan.
A trumpet vine, Campsis radicans, is a species of flowering plant of the family Bignoniaceae, native to the eastern United States and naturalized in parts of the western United States as well as in Ontario, parts of Europe, and scattered locations in Latin America. it is a vigorous, deciduous woody vine, notable for its showy trumpet-shaped flowers.
Here is an archway built with oleander, an attractive evergreen shrub for warm climates that produces heavily scented, colorful flowers all summer and fall.
Among the most remarkable features is the Court of the Water Channel, and Courtyard of the Cypress, the oldest surviving Moorish garden.
The views through the windows are of the gardens below and the city of Granada in the distance.
Hard to tire of these amazing vistas.
Granada is a city in southern Spain’s Andalusia region, in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains – it’s known for grand examples of medieval architecture.
All around Alhambra are water features. This waterfall is built right into the stairwells.
Ancient pebble mosaic floors covered the paths.
Charles V Palace was built next to the Alhambra. The architect in charge was Pedro Machuca. It includes a round porticoed courtyard in the external square block of the palace.
The Arms Square, or Plaza de Armas, was the original entrance to the Alcazaba. The Alcazaba is one of the oldest parts of the Alhambra.
In the middle of the square and in part of the wall archaeologists discovered the foundations of several ancient houses.
The architects of the Alhambra wanted to cover every single space with decoration, no matter the size of the space – no decorative element was enough.
At Palacios Nazaries – beautifully carved ceilings. Look closely, the coverings have wooden frames that have been exquisitely carved also.
The Gilded Room, Cuarto Dorado, is so called because of the painted Mudejar style of its coffered ceiling. It as built by order of Mohammed V and belongs to the Comares Palace.
The space inside the balcony has a lantern window made of stained glass within a delicate vault wooden frame – it was recently restored.
Ryan admired these wooden doors, outfitted with six smaller windows looking out onto the gardens.
Many of the water features end in small pools around surrounded by more pebble mosaics.
This is one of the palace towers.
This is a garden tuteur – often used to add interest to borders and flower beds. I have several in my flower garden that I use to support some of my garden rose varieties.
Throatwart, Trachelium caeruleum L. is a flowering plant from the Western Mediterranean that lives in rocks, clips and damp walls. Caeruleum, which means blue in Latin, refers to the small, umbellate groups of flowers.
The property is huge – lots of wonderful Mediterranean plantings including olive trees, lavender, cypress, and pomegranate trees. Again, Granada can be seen in the distance. What a beautiful place to visit – thanks, Ryan.