DescriptionThe Many Faces of the Albuquerque BioPark Botanic Garden
Our Botanic Garden consists of about 13 recognizable gardens: Pollinator, Spanish-Moorish, Jardin Redondo, Xeric, Curandera, High Desert Rose, Japanese, Children’s Fantasy, G-scale Railroad, Deserts of the Southwest, Heritage Farm and Orchard, Cottonwood Gallery, and the Mediterranean and Desert Conservatories.
We will take a closer look at just one of these exhibits which represents New Mexico in a specific way: The Spanish Moorish Garden.
Just as you walk through the garden gates, to the right is the entrance to the Spanish Moorish Garden. This formal garden is rectangular in shape, with a centered water feature and high walls enclosing the yard for privacy. These walls are hidden by fruit trees, mainly Colonnade apples and pomegranates. There are shade trees, fragrant herbs, flowers, and nicely tiled benches. This makes the garden an oasis, especially in the heat of the summer in the desert.
Fun fact: the Arabic word for paradise and garden is the same.
Like many states in the southwest, New Mexico was very strongly influenced by the Spanish who arrived in what is now New Mexico in 1598. Spain itself was heavily influenced in mathematics, philosophy, geography, and astronomy during the Muslim occupation of the Iberian Peninsula from 711 to 1492 c.e. These are just a few of the cultural aspects of the Arabian world brought to the Iberian Peninsula and then to New Mexico. Not to forget the influence to the language, music with their instruments e.g. the guitar, and paper making. Even the way of celebrating a dinner in several courses - starting with soup, ending with desserts - comes from the Arabic culture. This list could go on and on!!
The Muslims living in Spain during this period were called the “Moors”. From the 8th century to the 12th century, learning and scholarship flourished. In one of the libraries over half a million hand-written manuscripts were discovered. At this time, very often, even European kings were illiterate!
If you ever have the opportunity to visit the Botanic Garden, step in to the Spanish-Moorish Garden and sit on one of the colorful benches, take in the cool air under the shade trees, smell the fragrance of the rosemary, and just reflect on the quiet and calm. You will then know how the Arabic philosophy influenced all of us here!
P.S. Written by a highly enthusiastic, just one year volunteer at the Botanic Garden, originally emigrated from Switzerland.
-Story contributed by Franzi, BioPark Botanical Garden Docent. Franzi says of how she came to volunteer at the botanic garden:
"I came to volunteer because, since I live in Albuquerque, (from 1999) I spent many weekends in the gardens to enjoy the beauty, be around people and trying to improve taking pictures.When I had to retire due to my shop closure, I knew, you will need help and I wanted to give back - even though I noticed I get much more out of all that!!"