The Atlantic Botanic Gardens
The murmur of water as it flows downstream to the sea, the whisper of the wind that sways the leaves of centuries-old oaks and the intoxicating scent of the flowers that adorn the paths will make the emotions of those taking a stroll here vibrate as they wind their way through this magnificent natural haven, an unforgettable moment on your visit to this city that tastes of the sea.
Immersing oneself in the heart of nature while barely leaving town is possible… and the Atlantic Botanic Gardens is the most appropriate place to do just that. Just 2 kilometres from the centre of Gijón, more than 30,000 plants belonging to 2,200 different species await visitors in this privileged setting, surprising them with their colours and scents throughout the 16 hectares of land the gardens occupy.
The Botanic Gardens are always different; each season of the year transforms them, with Nature presenting a different face on each visit. The gardens include four, well-differentiated areas of display. The Garden of La Isla is an important historical garden dating from 1870, with surprising fountains and ponds where Nature has been left to work from time immemorial. The Plant Factory reveals the incredible interrelation between plants and human beings throughout time, while the Cantabrian Setting abounds with the grassland, scrub and forest that make up the landscape of neighbouring territories. Finally, the Atlantic Route offers a stroll along both shores of the North Atlantic, where boreal forests and peat bogs give way to temperate forests brimming with legends. Here visitors can discover Tragamón Oak Wood, an imposing natural monument that encompasses a wood comprised of sturdy oak trees, some of which are almost 500 years old, and others that stand over twenty metres tall. A unique, extraordinary space where Nature becomes Art.
The museum collection completes the botanic discourse of the gardens, with interpretative panels and interactive elements to awaken the curiosity of young and old alike, helping to understand many of the secrets of the plant world.
The Botanic Garden Beehive has been established surrounded by plants that act like small nectar factories. This constitutes an exciting microcosm that reveals the different castes in the complex society of these insects: workers, drones and the queen, and the multiple tasks they carry out in caring for their home, as well as the important role they play in plant reproduction.
However, the Botanic Gardens have many other inhabitants; squirrels, birds and other tiny beings coexist in this magical place permanently brimming with life. Bird lovers should not miss out on the birdwatching visits, where they can discover the more than 90 species that nest or let their beaks be seen among the leaves of bushes and trees. However, if what you really want to do is observe their behaviour in detail, the Botanic Gardens offer the possibility of using a hide which initiates of this discipline of birdwatching would say is strategically located and which is equipped with a feeding station to attract these singular inhabitants.
A visit with the youngest members of the family cannot fail to pass by a very special place where they can let their imagination soar, explore, learn, discover and enjoy themselves in the company of family and friends: The Children’s Forest. Small mosses, giant trees, some vines and an endless list of plants deck the trail where a number of inhabitants as amazing as a “giant” dragonfly and fifteen fortune-telling frogs hide. This space boasts a colourful auditorium, coming to life with stories, puppets and other performances to make the audience’s imagination take flight, as well as a playground where a spectacular winged serpent, or “cuélebre”, awaits to surprise us.
However, Gijón’s Atlantic Botanic Gardens are much more than a plant museum. They constitute a living, creative facility that wishes to transfer Nature to the day-to-day space of coexistence through a broad range of play and educational activities that are fun for both the young and old.
The workshops and guided visits around the gardens form part of an educational programme that has become more consolidated every year as an excellent tool for interpretation and experiments so that schoolchildren may discover this setting. The Passport to Nature programme of children’s workshops is held one Saturday morning a month during the school year and brings Nature closer to the participants in a playful way through disciplines as diverse as recycling, gardening and reading. The “Miruéndanos” Clubprovides activities for the whole family to enjoy in the company of good friends from both these magical gardens and also from other natural spaces of interest in our region. The not-so-young can also learn in the Botanic Gardens by participating in activities like the Gardening School, Approaches to Photography and the other workshops that are held throughout the year, in addition to the series of talks covering a highly varied range of subjects in fields such as gardening, landscaping, conservation biology and eco-marketing.
The Botanic Gardens are like a great living encyclopaedia, teeming with lessons on Nature and the Environment, although they are also a place for fun and leisure for the entire family. The change-of-season celebrations have already become a must event at the Gardens, marking the winter and summer solstices and the autumn and spring equinoxes. As a novelty this year, the Botanic Gardens will become a “Gourmet’s Garden” for a few days, with the holding of diverse gastronomic events: cookery workshops, show-cooking and tastings will delight the most exquisite palates and will enable participants to get to know and savour the fruits, vegetables and other produce from each season.
During the summer months, the Botanic Gardens provide a different leisure spot for the enjoyment of children, teenagers and the family alike. During the Vacation at the Botanic Gardenssummer-school programmes, held in the mornings for children between the ages of 6 and 12, and the Agrocampus, for teenagers between 12 and 16, participants become treasure hunters, intrepid naturalists or gardening apprentices. What’s more, a new initiative has started up this year, Summer in the Garden, a programme that aims to bring English to children between 6 and 12 years of age, with fun, nature-based activities supervised by qualified bilingual monitors.
In the summertime, there are many other offers at the Botanic Gardens to surprise visitors. The “Music with Roots” festival concerts bring their note of colour to the gardens. Moreover, fun will be guaranteed with magic events, outdoor cinema, overnight camping to practise star-gazing and to listen to the sounds of the forest, puppets and storytellers in the Children’s Forest, and the now traditional “Magical Nights”, in which a number of legendary beings waylay expectant visitors to tell them tales that have come down to us from ancestral times.
The Atlantic Botanical Gardens leave no-one indifferent, with almost 100% of all visitors highly recommending the visit, which makes them a must stop during your stay in the city.