Labour of love

 

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IMAGES: JORGE MORALES

La Concepción’s historic Mirador with its panoramic views over the city to the rugged Montes de Málaga.

 

LA CONCEPCIÓN HISTORICAL-BOTANICAL GARDENS MÁLAGA

When Jorge Loring Oyarzábal and Amalia Heredia Livermore tied the knot in 1848, it was during their six-month honeymooon – taking in the finest gardens of Europe – that the seeds of an ambitious idea began to take root…

In 1855 the Marquis and Marchioness purchased a plot of land north of Málaga on which they built their country home, and with the help of renowned French gardener Jacint Chamousset – who was awarded several prizes for his endeavours – set about creating the Garden of Eden they’d been planning for seven years.

 

The 19th century stately home built by the Loring-Heredias.

 

Well-read, cultivated and humanitarian, Jorge and Amalia were as passionate about history as they were about botany, and their La Concepción estate soon also housed a magnificent collection of archaeological artefacts unearthed from various local excavations. The son of an entrepreneur from Massachussetts and the granddaughter of the former English consul, the Loring-Heredias had a wide circle of friends, as well as an empire of business interests, so it’s no surprise that La Concepción became an open house for an illustrious group of intellectuals, writers, poets and artists not only from Spain but from around the world.

Wisteria and palms adorn what was once the Loring-Heredia's al fresco dining-room.

 

TURNING OVER A NEW LEAF

After their death, La Concepción was purchased in 1911 by a couple from Bilbao, the Echevarria-Echevarrietas, who extended the gardens by creating several new areas, and in 1943 the estate was granted the official status of historical-artistic gardens of cultural interest. In 1990 the Gardens were acquired by Málaga City Council, who one year later founded the Municipal Botanical Trust which now runs and administers them.

 

Water lilies float in silent pools.

The Loring Museum built in the style of a Doric temple.

The aquatic plants are a perfect habitat for frogs and chameleons.

A chameleon hides among the pond plants.

 

Opened to the public in 1994, La Concepción Historical-Botanical Gardens covers an area of 23 acres housing living collections of more than 1,000 different species gathered from every corner of the globe. So vast that it would take more than six hours to see every detail, various themed routes – with or without a guide and each of between an hour and 90 minutes’ duration – have been created. So every time you return and whatever the season, you’re sure to discover something new.

With its impressive seed bank, wide programme of cultural, scientific and educational activities, plus a young people’s workshop, La Concepción is also at the very forefront of conservation. But then that’s another story…

 

The gardener was clearly inspired by the impressionist paintings of Monet.