Monday, June 23, 2014

The Car, The Commercial, and a Stunning Succulent Garden

It all started a few years ago when I saw the commercial for a Vauxhall Corsa (or Opel Corsa in the continent) wherein a beautiful woman was struggling to cycle up a hill and she was spotted by a group of...puppets driving the above car and promptly offered her a ride including her bike. Nice, catchy commercial it was but the plantsman that I am was more fixated by the planting on the place wherein the commercial was filmed. I thought, wow, where could that be? Masses of agaves, palms, cycads, and other succulents densely planted on a slope on the side of an inclined road. The uphill road and the planting was a perfect location to convey the message of the commercial as well as provide a beautiful back drop.


Mossèn Costa i Llobera Gardens

My initial thoughts were that it was filmed somewhere in the US but through the years I've noticed that a lot of car commercials here were filmed in Barcelona. Still it didn't cross my mind to put two and two together.

Fast forward to February 2014 and whilst researching and planning for our itinerary of gardens to visit in Barcelona I came across an information online, of a supposedly stunning yet little known cacti and succulent garden in the heart of the city. That despite its prominent location it is still obscure and rarely features on any tourist guide.



I jotted the name and the location of the garden and when we were in the city on our way there the public bus passed by a familiar road and almost instantly I recognised that this was the road that was used in that commercial! What a coincidence! After my wondering then who would know a few years later I would get the answer to my question. 


The planting on the side of the road is actually part of the garden itself and is just a preview of what was in store inside. And once we got in we were in for a treat!!

This obscure Barcelona gem is the Mossèn Costa i Llobera Gardens


Mossèn Costa i Llobera Gardens



The place was nothing short of spectacular and majestic...





Mossèn Costa i Llobera Gardens




This garden at 3.6 acres is one the largest cacti and succulent gardens in Europe and is sited on a sheltered spot, protected from freezing winter winds under the Montjuic with a spectacular panoramic view of the sea and the port. It is only about ten minutes walk (or you can take the bus like we did if you don't fancy the uphill stroll) from the Columbus monument and at the end of the Santa Monica promenade.




Mossèn Costa i Llobera Gardens







Despite its seemingly convenient and central location and very close proximity to where a lot of the action is in Barcelona it still seemed obscure, with very little information about it on guides and maps. In fact when we were there it was just the two of us for most of the time and the only interruption and brief company we got was an occasional jogger passing by the paths. It seemed this garden are more for the locals living nearby which is a leafy part of the city.










Despite the quietness of the place it is very well maintained and nearly pristine. We were amazed how underused and unhighlighted it was when this could easily be the most stunning garden in Barcelona. But at the same time we weren't complaining as the quietness of the place just added to its already wonderful atmosphere.

A large and spectacular garden and for most of the time we had it all to ourselves!






On reading more about this garden when we got home it was actually, at one point included by the New York Times as one of the Top Ten best gardens in the world, making the list in 1987. The garden itself opened to the public in 1970 but it's had some work and redevelopment done on it since then, which included massive replanting when it got hit by harsher and uncommon winters in 1985 and 1987. Take note that despite the damage it sustained in 1987 it was included as one of the best by the above mentioned newspaper as among the best gardens in the world.












Now I wonder how despite such accolade in the past it is not as highlighted by the city as it should be? Perhaps they thought this beauty is best left not as well known, for only a few at a time to enjoy?


Click me and enjoy!

Well if you do find yourself in this city make it a point to visit this stunning garden.

Now going back to the car commercial, if you are curious what it was, here it is:



Mark :-)

18 comments :

  1. I've never seen a garden of this sort in person so it's a bit difficult to relate (will any of these plants even grow where I live?) but it certainly looks impressive!

    Are you saying that you visited in 2012? If so, I finally found somebody who takes longer than I do to go through photos. ;)

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    1. Thanks for noticing that detail Alan, it's actually Feb 2014! Better change that soon :) still took us awhile to sort it out though

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  2. It´s funny...I´ve seen so many times this commercial, but I´ve never paid attention.
    I´ve been recommended to visit this garden by a person I know in Barcelona, but when I was there I didn't have enough time as I had to do other things :(. I´m glad you guys visited the garden so that I can enjoy the pictures and your post!! Wow! one of the best gardens in the world?? I don´t understand my country and why they don´t give these gardens the importance they have.

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    1. Hi Lisa, thought of you when I made this post and assumed that you've been before. Definitely one to include next time you're back in this city :)

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  3. Absolutely stunning! I'm speechless.

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    1. We were in awe of the place Ricki!

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  4. It's fun when the pieces of memory and experience come together like that. Have you ever been to the Huntington Gardens in Southern California? After seeing pictures of this garden in Barcelona, I have no doubt you would also love the Huntington's desert garden.

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    1. We haven't been to Southern California Kris, definitely up there on our list of places to visit soon!

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  5. That looks like--Southern California!

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    1. Thoughts Southern California came up to mind whilst we were there (not that we've been already...)!

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  6. Great story, wonderful photos and stunning plants (well except for those poor agaves). I'll have to come back and read this tomorrow on my laptop as I can't see the commercial on the iPad.

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    1. You would have loved this place Loree, lots of 'dangerous' plants!

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  7. I have to agree with you. While going through your photos they just kept being spectacular. Maybe it's so lonely as people there might not be into that kind of gardening. I'm not sure but it sure is very cool looking. It's too funny though that you remembered that from a commercial.
    Cher Sunray Gardens

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    1. There's something special about it not that well known, and that it seemed mostly only locals know about it. It was great wandering around having the place almost to ourselves Cher :)

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  8. Awesome garden. At first glance it does look rather like something in the American Southwest.

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    1. Sentiments the same, it looks like a scape in the US!

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  9. How cool that you remembered the place from the commercial & actually got to see this incredible garden!

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  10. That was so cool! Hopefully I can see it in person one day!

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