Rio Grande Bio Park, Botanical Garden

Even on a 100 degree day this garden is a cool place to be.  Only 15 years old, this 36-acre botanical garden was built in the site of a city park that had fallen into disrepair.  As a result, mature cottonwood and elm trees provide shade all throughout the garden.  The entry courtyard is spacious and decorative. As you enter the garden through beautiful, ornate bronze gates, the first space to catch your eye is the children’s fantasy garden with a castle tower and dragon.  The dragon towers up above the trees with fabric wings and a spine planted with rounded boxwood.  The castle tower floor is a sand pit ready for play.  Walking through the castle courtyard, you find yourself in a land of giants. This garden grows huge carrots, radishes, and onions.  The tools of the giants are scattered about.  There is a rake, trowel, watering can, and flower pots, all fit for the giant.  A motion activated bee begins buzzing overhead as you enter the potting area.  You walk into the interior of a monstrous pumpkin with the seeds and stringy center dangling overhead.  The tree trunks open up for play, you may slide down to another level. This imaginative garden space is a bit of magic for all ages.

This garden also has a Dragon/Damsel Fly Sanctuary Pond.  From the garden website I learned, “The exhibit is the first dragonfly sanctuary pond in the United States. The pond features aquatic habitat perfect for attracting and breeding dragonflies and damselflies. Plants for perching grow around the pond, allowing guests to view and identify several species of dragonflies at once. A stream bubbles into the exhibit from a rocky desert landscape, and a deck overlooks the vibrant scene.”

It is fascinating to stand and watch the activity in this pond.  Both the Dragon and Damselflies will land and stay still for considerable time allowing you to fully examine their translucent colors.  Over 20 varieties of flies are identified in the informative charts overlooking the pond.  For more magic, right next to the pond is the butterfly pavilion open May to October.

Many public gardens have medicinal or herb gardens representing the importance of plants in medicine. Here El Jardin (garden) de la Curandera commemorates the Curanderos, Spanish folk doctors, who have been practicing for 300 plus years. A bas-relief sculpture by Diego Rivera is the centerpiece of this garden.

There is much more to see, an architecturally wonderful conservatory, a perennial garden, a Japanese garden, and a model railroad garden. Driving through Albuquerque on my way farther east this garden was a great travel stop. A cool place to be, regardless of the season.

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