We are so accustomed to being just one thing, having one label attached to us, we are a teacher, a welder, a policeman, an artist. When we aren’t afraid of being more than one thing, magic is possible.
Cesar Manrique, (1920-1992) earned the label of artist. A Spanish citizen, a contemporary of Andy Warhol, a painter, a designer of wind toys, ceramics, a foundation and a garden.
The artist had an inspired view of an uninspiring landscape, working with native materials and plants he created the masterpiece of Jardin De Cactus.
The Canary Island of Lanzarote is a creation of volcanic action. The land Manrique worked with is black, flat, rocky and dry. He dug down, working with an old quarry and created his garden pairing art and nature. His work in this artistic creation uses the sculpture of the cactus with the inspired placement within the theatre of the garden.
I’m from Arizona, I once had black volcanic rock in my garden. It was rough, uneven, seemingly void of any color variation. I have seen lots of cactus and many beautifully designed cactus gardens. Manrique put volcanic rock and cactus together magnificently.
You enter at the top of the garden and walk down one of two stone staircases. The circular space is terraced in five levels. The pathways and steps are made from large rectangular pieces of volcanic rock. The plants are placed in pulverized black volcanic bits. Large sculptural rocks are integrated within the design.
Paths divide the garden plantings weaving you through the floor of the garden. Ponds provide reflective surfaces for the clouds overhead.
Cactus and Euphorbias provide flower, texture and dimension.
Manrique planned every aspect of the garden, such as uniform pots marching up a staircase with variation provided by the plant inside.
Manrique died in a car accident, in 1992 at the age of 72. Nature continues to shape the garden as plants grow and change. Still this garden remains a spatial masterpiece of natural materials, placement and plants. It left me in awe of such beauty.