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Alameda Gardens

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Alameda Gardens

Table of contents


Gibraltar’s Botanical Gardens: "The Alameda"

Introduction

The social aspects of Gibraltar’s history, sometimes overshadowed by its military legacies, are no less fascinating. The influence of many a great society can be witnessed in the architectural and horticultural development on the Rock. Moorish, Spanish, Italian (Genoese) and British influences are all present in the townscape.

Botanically, the influence of civilisation through the centuries, through deforestation, cultivation and introductions,has played a part in flavouring the predominantly Mediterranean features of wild vegetation and of gardens.

History


In the past, the predominately military identity of Gibraltarhas meant that little consideration was given to the social needs of the civilian population. General Sir George Don, Lieutenant-Governor of Gibraltar, was perhaps the first governor since 1704 to dedicate significant resources to the public wellbeing. 
In 1815, he established the necessity for a green space, to create “an Alameda, where the inhabitants might enjoy the air, protected from the extreme heat of the sun". Voluntary contributions and monies raised by public lotteries where primarily used to fund the undertaking.

The Grand Parade was the hub of military activity for over a hundred years. The changing of the guard was held there every week and the site was used for ceremonial occasions. To this day two 10inch RML guns on slides overlook the Grand Parade.

The promenade around the parade was expanded to include about 8 hectares of land, in what became known as the Alameda Gardens. Derived from the Spanish word "Alamo", for the white Popular alba trees that once grew along the Grand Parade. The walks were opened to the public on 14thApril, 1816.

The Gibraltar Chronicle covered the event thus:

Plants of the Gardens

The Alameda Gardens contains a combination of native plant species and others brought in from abroad, from former British territories like Australia and South Africa, with which Gibraltar had maritime links at the time of the British Empire. Since 1991 many new species have been planted, some growing in Gibraltar for the first time.

Shrubs and bulbs

Some of the more obvious shrubs of the gardens include oleanders (Nerium oleander) with pink, white or yellowish flowers in summer. The blue butterfly bush (Buddlejadavidii)has pale blue flowers in late winter and the native shrubby scorpion vetch (Coronillavalentina)has sweet-scented, bright yellow flowers in late winter and early spring.

Gibraltar and Mediterranean plants

Wild plants are to be found in locations throughout the gardens, with some beds specifically dedicated to them. Gibraltar plants to be seen include the Gibraltar candytuft (Iberisgibraltarica), the Gibraltar restharrow(Ononisnatrix) and the very rare Gibraltar campion(Silenetomentosa). The Mediterranean bed in particular has typical species including lavenders and cistus sun roses, as well as leguminous shrubs and bulbous or rhizomatous plants like the paper-white narcissus Narcissuspapyraceus, giant squill(scillaperuviana) and asphodels (Asphodelusspp)

Other beds

Some of the other beds are dedicated to the plants of California, Australia, South Africa and the Canary Islands, regions with a climate similar to Gibraltar's. The family beds display plants according to selected plant families. 
 
 


Sites in the Gardens

The Eliott Memorial

In 1815 General Don had requested of the Secretary of State for the Colonies, the Earl Bathurst, permission to construct a rotunda with a memorial to General Sir George Augustus Eliott. This did not materialise in the form originally requested, but a "colossal" statue of General Eliot, carved from the bowsprit of the Spanish man-o-war San Juan, taken at Trafalgar was placed at the top of the Heathfield Steps, leading up to the south of Grand Parade.