July 1, 2015

37 Photos of the Absolutely Most Stunning Cactus Garden in Europe

Most stunning xeriscaping cactus garden in Europe has roots deep in the past, when little Jacob was used to seat for hours and stare at his grandmother cactus collection… When I was a kid, my grandmother used to have a windowsill filled with cactus plants. I loved it! I have spend a  lot of time just looking at them…
 

So, give me your hand and let me take you today for a bewildering stroll in privately owned, eco-friendly, amazing garden in Algarve (Portugal, Europe), created by Jacob - Dutch born,  Algaravio by choice since 30 years.

And remember that Ewa in the Garden was first to discover it and bring it to the world :) 


Grown-up Jacob transformed the almost non-existing house and the plot (5,000 square meters / 1,500 square feets ) he bought 16 years ago into stunning cactus and succulents collection, growing and tending over 7,000 plants, over 500 species and varieties, some of them very rare and very old like 300-years old macrozamia, growing at overwhelmingly slow speed of 1 leaf in 5 years.

There is over 100 plants of Cycas revoluta growing here and about 200 palm trees among which you can admre Trithrinax campestris (caranday palm), Copernicia alba - both species originating from South America - and Chamaerops humilis (European fan palm, Mediterranean dwarf palm or dwarf fan palm).

If you can imagine there were only five sad palm trees at the beginning, you can only admire the man of big dreams, his dedication and ability to make his dreams come true! That doesn’t apply only to the garden, but also to the magnificent house seized today at 1,400 square meters (4,600 square feet), which he has enlarged from 500 square meters (1,640 square feet) and brought to superb manorial style state.


The real garden works and plantings started 10 years ago, so you can see how much the plants grew in that time… The secret to make the succulents and cactus thriving in Algarve is hidden in pH control of the soil - says Jacob – I remember one of them growing at the speed of one centimetre a day!    


Casa do Monte house and garden are located on the hilltop with beautiful ocean view distanced 2-4 km (1-2.4 miles) from finest beaches of Algarve (Praia de Galé, Praia de Evaristo).



There are many stories about the plants and the garden that Jacob would be happy to share if you book a garden visit or longer stay.  On the left side of above photo you may see Trithrinax campestri, that grows in arid, well drained, rocky soils. Its distinctive features are its compact shape, short grayish foliage, and trunk fully hidden by dry dead branches remaining from several previous seasons (photo below).

 




Benches seem like kid furniture, but believe me it is not. Real size for real people. 





Xeriscaping for water saving and other energy saving solutions

Behind the pretty pictures of this incredible cactus garden, there is a secret, we should all share for helping the only Planet we have.
Jacob, is a man of many talents, not only avid gardener, racketlon world champion, windsurfer and kitesurfer, but also environment sustainability oriented civil engineer, that made him capable of introducing eco-friendly water and energy saving solutions.

Throughout the season the rainwater is collected in 5 strategically located 500,000 liters water deposits, hidden and not visible at all, which then are used for watering the plants.
...Rainwater is much better for the plants, because is softer, contains less calcium than borehole water and is not treated with chemicals like water for consumption, not mentioning that re-using rainwater is better for environment.  

Xeriscaping which is using in the garden drought-resistant plants, in the hot climate like Algarve is good idea, as succulents and cacti don’t need too much water. But even xeriscaping garden needs to be watered. This garden is hand watered selectively, depends on the needs of the plants. Some of them are watered once a week, others every two weeks. 

Cooling and heating at Casa do Monte is under-floor, loss of heat is prevented with well insulated false ceilings, which helps also to maintain cooler temperatures in the hot Algarvian summers.
The efficiency of the systems is 1:7, which means 1 gigawatt used, gives 7 gigawatts of efficiency in heating or cooling. Just compare it with cooking, while you get 1:1 only.

Domestic hot water is provided by solar panels.

All these solutions made Jacob’s water and energy bills plummeted at the light speed. 







You can enjoy the plants while strolling through many terraces, hidden paths and mysterious corners, see? 




Dracaena draco, the Canary Islands dragon tree or drago.





Looking at the cat vs the palm Trithinax campestris, you can feel the sizes better :) BTW the cat is usual size adult cat, not kitten :) 




Tennis courts hold this unique atmosphere by being surrounded by opulent, tropical plantings.





Happy owner in his paradise :)







Tops of the Dracaena draco, the Canary Islands dragon tree or drago.


Casa do Monte garden is available for visiting, all you need to do is to write an e-mail (below) and book the visit.

You may also book an accommodation, enjoy the nearby beaches, the garden and chatting with Jacob about his plants.
Frankly, the ultimate place to stay in Albufeira.           

So, thank you, My Dear Reader, for the stroll! I hope you enjoyed it as much as I was bewildered after my first visit! Oh, yes… there are surprises waiting for us just around the corner…

Thank you Jacob! Also for patience with me at 7 am when "I had to" make the photos :)



Surface of the garden: 5,000 square meters / 1,500 square feet

Location: Albufeira, Algarve, Portugal, Europe

Contact to book the garden visit or accommodation:

+351 917 225 220


#cactusgarden #portugal #algarve #ewainthegarden  #cactusgardening #xeriscaping #cactuscollection #growingcactus


June 17, 2015

Algarve - Vegetable garden - Day 15

This little vegetable garden in Algarve seems to be growing, but at its own pace. I am not sure how, in this heat, the veggies will be doing, but so far it seems that some of them do better, some of them not so excellent.

I see that tomatoes and peppers are adjusting longer than expected – probably because when I bought them they were pretty big in size, but roots were kept small. They were sown and growing in seeding trays, where the amount of soil is really little, so the roots had no chance to grow freely.  Nevertheless tomato plants seem to get thicker, which is a good sign. No opinion on pepper plants yet. Little bigger, but no real change.

Cucumbers –  seedlings planted on the top of the photo on the left will have their first flowers! Yipeee! I wonder if they will taste better than those from the shops. I think, that Portugese have no idea what is a great cucumber (sorry friends!). In about two weeks we will know.

Note to myself – maybe next time buy smaller tomato/pepper seedlings.


Seedlings vs sowing seeds

Look at the first row from the right. Two plants on the bottom are courgette “Diamond” sown from seeds, next plants in a row are melons planted as seedlings. In those two weeks melon seedlings didn’t grow that much, as they are still adjusting, while 2 of the 3 courgette’s seeds  sprouted and seem to be faster and already slightly bigger than melons.

New veggies

3rd row from the right – new broccoli seedlings planted.

2nd row from the left – new lettuce seedlings planted, for having constant supply, planting or sowing in 2 week periods would be enough, I think.

Rows in the middle – radishes “Malaga” and yellow string beans “Golden Saxa” starting from seeds.

Apart from that? I have already picked some lettuce twice, third one is on the photo below. Just in two weeks from planting seedlings.

Bon Appetit!




#algarve #vegetablegarden #ewainthegarden

Algarve - Vegetable Garden - Day 1
Algarve - Vegetable Garden - Day 2


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