Thursday, November 08, 2012

Hola Atocha!

I first thought about this post many weeks ago when I first read Loree's blog about railway stations with interesting plantings. But when I looked at our photo archives I was disappointed at the photos we took of the interior of the Atocha Railway Station in Madrid. The tropical planting inside the station is grand and stunning, looking more like the inside of the Palm House at Kew rather than a railway station. I've never seen anything like that anywhere else, railway station wise, and for an exotic plant lover it's almost a reason good enough to visit Madrid for a weekend break (or longer if you travel from a different continent).

Atocha Railway Station

But why oh why did we end up taking so few photos, and of low quality too?? It's a question I initially couldn't comprehend or even know the exact answer but after some thoughts I came up with a couple of clues. I think we still used our old camera then and it wasn't brilliant at taking digital photos (digital camera technology moves so quick nowadays). And another thing, I remember there was a used book fair ongoing whilst we were there and the area seemed 'solemn' with people reading books and it would have felt rude to break the solitude with flashes from our camera.

Atocha Railway Station - Palms

Atocha Railway Station

There you go, I think I just answered my own question by concluding that it's actually a combination of both reasons. Never mind! I did borrow a photo from Wikipedia to show what the planting in the station looks like from a distance, to give a better idea of what it really is like. It is superb, and looks better in my memory, certainly much better than the photos I took!

Madrid Atocha Railway Station (photo from Wikipedia)
And since I'm featuring a few retro photos from our trip to Madrid, the capital of Spain a few years ago, way back 2007, I might as well feature a few other plant-y photos we took during our stay there. This is proper retro stuff, relatively speaking...

Solanum betaceum
Solanum betaceum
Solanum betaceum
Solanum betaceum
A fernery section of The Real Jardín Botánico de Madrid (Royal Botanical Garden of Madrid)...
Which is nowhere near as big as some of the major botanical gardens in Europe. It's good enough to 
visit though if you're in the city. During that time they were replanting this area. I wonder what 
this area looks like now??


Xanthorrhoea glauca
Xanthorrhoea glauca
Phoenix dactylifera
Cordyline kaspar
Cordyline kaspar
Oddly enough this was labelled only as 'Fairy Bamboo'...hmmmm...
More of that 'Fairy Bamboo'
Small as this botanical garden may be, they did have a few nice succulents growing outside, relishing the warm climate of the Spanish capital..


Agave victoria-reginae
Agave victoria-reginae




Agave americana 'Striata'
Agave americana 'Striata'
Agave americana 'Mediopicta Alba' and 'Variegata'
Agave weberi
A selection of Opuntias
One of the Agave beds (with me for scale)
But like all other botanical gardens they have some glasshouses as well...





Back out into the city, as expected there were various palms planted all over...


Chamaerops humilis
A very nice 'clump' of Chamaerops humilis
Washingtonia robusta
We managed to time it right that there was also an ongoing Andy Goldsworthy installation whilst we were there, inside the Palacio de Cristal which is within Madrid's Buen Retiro Park. Beings admirers of his work, we just had to check it out and his installation did not disappoint. 


Palacio de Cristal
Palacio de Cristal (which was funny enough inspired by the works of Joseph Paxton who was responsible for the Palm House at Kew)
Andy Goldsworthy
Andy Goldsworthy's installation was colossal. It occupied most of the floor space of the Crystal Palace and we were free to walk within his work
Andy Goldsworthy Spain 2007

Palacio de Cristal
Another view of the Crystal Palace where you can see Andy Goldsworthy's installation inside
So there you go, just a few snippets of the city of Madrid. I suspect it will be awhile before we go back to this city again, and it will take some time before I get to say Hola to Atocha once again. But if we do, I'm going to make sure we have a good camera on hand and will take lots and lots of pictures of it!

Mark :-)

32 comments :

  1. Replies
    1. It really is stunning, its just a shame we somehow failed to take many photos

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  2. That Atocha Station is phenomenal. Hats off to the powers that be for making a public space so attractive.

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    1. Its a fantastic space, and very well used too.

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  3. Great scenes. Lots of work went into those. I love that clump of Humilis, it's really something special and of course I love the Agave. Those are some of the neatest plants.
    Cher Sunray Gardens

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    1. Hi Cher, they do take the street scenes seriously there, lots of hard work. The big C humilis is a stunner isn't it and the agaves too!

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  4. Holy wow! that train station planting is amazing!

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    1. Hi Deanne, glad you enjoyed it

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  5. Love the Atocha station. Madrid is a great city....lots of gardens. Spain is full of wonderful surprises. Love the pics.

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    1. It sure is Rohrerbot! I find it hard to believe its been so long since we were there!

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  6. Wow! The train station planting is totally over the top amazing, so glad you had a few pictures. Like Sunray I also enjoyed the agaves and the Humilis. I wonder if we'll ever make it to Madrid?

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    1. Hi Loree, i'm sure you would love Madrid if you got the chance to go, lots of gardens, museums and sunshine!

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  7. Such a nice place, I could spend the whole day there. The fairy bamboo - is it Bambusa multiplex?

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    1. Hi Autumn Belle, its a great place to visit. I'll have a look at the bamboo suggestion and see if it matches. Thanks!

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  8. Gorgeous! Atocha and the agaves are yummy! The Crystal Palace...wow!

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    1. The Crystal Palace is lovely indeed. Shame it's not used for plants anymore, but rather as a venue now for various exhibitions.

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  9. Wow, what places ! Wonderful. And now I want to travel....

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    1. Hi Pivi, Madrid is a good city for a short weekend break :)

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  10. Looks fab - those agave's are sharp. I made the mistake of thinking one was aloe vera once. Never again...

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    1. It's a fab station (and city). Wish train stations elsewhere would do the same!

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  11. Wow! A railway station with an exotic garden! The variety of interesting plants over the world is one thing that makes the gardening blogosphere so fascinating. Thanks for giving me a peek into some places I am not likely to visit.

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    1. Indeed Debs :) The variety of plants people grow from all over the world, seen via blogosphere is fascinating indeed (and wonderful!).

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  12. I just thought of it that if many structures of public places in temperate countries have those transparent ceilings, it can double as a greenhouse for tropical plants. Definitely the temperatures and humidity inside are high, so best to use it to advantage. It will also result in happier people waiting inside. The plants there are even better than in some gardens here.

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    1. Indeed Andrea! How I wish more train stations would do the same, having a planted area inside where it will also be pleasant for people waiting for their trains.

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  13. Atocha station certainly does look unique and I can see you both returning soon. Enjoyed the rest of your photos also and was impressed with the Chamaerops humilis.

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    1. Thanks Alistair :) That stand of trunked C. humilis certainly does look attractive!

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  14. Wow I now need to find a reason to go to Madrid. I beleive Singapore airport is quite amazing as well

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    1. HI Helen, I'd recommend Madrid for a short weekend break. Plenty of other interesting things to see too. And if you like museums you'd like it even more. Hoping to see the Singapore airport very soon as well :)

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  15. Both places are amazing! Plants are fantastic, and I love Xanthorrhoea glauca!

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    1. Hi Tatyana, glad you liked our trip, and we love the Xanthorrhoea glauca too!

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  16. I loved the post but when you finished with the Andy Goldsworthy piece, I was salivating. I will forever be in awe of his work.

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    1. Hi Steve, his work is fantastic, it was such a bonus to discover the installation purely by accident as we were not expecting it. As we walked though the park we spotted the glasshouse and wandered towards it to discover the exhibit, and to be allowed to go inside the installation itself was fantastic.

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