Spanish garden and landscape designer Javier Mariátegui passed through Washington, D.C., in March 2017, on a U.S. tour of talks and discussion of his 2016 book, “Gardens for the Senses.” Mariátegui is a 30-year veteran of creating gardens across Spain and elsewhere in Europe. It’s in his bloodline, which includes a grandmother who wrote a history of the country’s gardens since the Roman era. The tour included presentations at Dumbarton Oaks in Georgetown and at the University of California at Berkeley Botanical Garden. Expanding the view of his work, Mariátegui provided TheHoe.org with recent photos and a sketch of his home garden in Guadalajara, along with a description of his approach to his art.
The Gardeners’ Garden
This garden is the labor of love of three generations of garden enthusiasts. First, my grandmother the Marquise of Casa Valdés, who built its backbone: the walls, the steps, the distribution of spaces.
Then my parents, the Marquises of La Guardia, who both inherited a great love of plants from their respective parents, and who were deep aficionados of perennial plants – highly fashionable in 1940s-1970s Spain -, a fact which guided their taste in flowers.
Finally, myself: a keen lover of garden architecture, of volumes and spaces, of the use of shade to distinguish gardens from one another, and of the structure created by well-defined pathways.
In the 1940s work began on the terraces, filled in with soil brought in wooden carts to level the garden. Two of these were formed; the walls were built, and some trees (cedars and cypresses) were planted. The second period began after 1984, when the lily walk was made, the wall was broken and the first pond was built. The third stage brought about the second pond and the extension of the garden to its surroundings; the fourth, begun in 2012, created the cypress court before the monument, the English rose promenade and the wild cypress path.
This garden has been a testing ground for plants which have later been used in other projects. In some places, as is customary in botanic gardens, it is not only aesthetic value that is sought, but also experience and knowledge.
In other places, that aesthetic goal is taking some time to achieve: we do and undo in search of a destination which is unknown to us… but which never fails to surprise.
The garden has gradually opened to the landscape, conditioned by the magnificent trees set by nature in our way, which would not allow us to open perspectives towards the horizon. In a sense, they are there to force us to make something less obvious, more personal and unique… somehow, stranger.
— Javier Mariátegui
© 2017 Javier Mariátegui