The floral garden: from pleasure space to biodiversity reservoir

Marianela Rochas-Porraz nos presenta El jardín floral: del espacio de placer al reservorio biodiverso, en donde nos invita a conocer los jardines del palacio Villandry.

The flower, according to the Royal Spanish Academy, is the reproductive sprout of phanerogamic plants, and, by extension, of many others, which consists of fertile leaves, the carpels and stamens, and non-fertile, accompanying leaves, which form the perianth.

But beyond their visual and olfactory appeal, metaphorically, these sprouts have been associated by many cultures with abundance, sexuality, spirituality and the rebirth of life after death.

La Virgen de las Rocas / The Virgin of the Rocks
Fotografía / Photography: Leonardo da Vinci, CC BY 3.0 <https://>, via Wikimedia Commons

For example, in the painting “The Virgin of the Rocks” by Leonardo da Vinci, preserved in the Louvre museum in Paris, the Virgin Mary is represented holding the baby Jesus together with Saint John the Baptist and the angel Gabriel surrounded by flowers and vegetation. The flowers in this painting are considered symbolic elements that highlight the divinity and grace of the Virgin Mary.

It is worth mentioning that in orchards, common in the monasteries of the European Middle Ages and in other productive spaces of other cultures, the presence of flowers on the trees and bushes announced the arrival of the desired fruits. Likewise, in the syncretic festivities of the Day of the Dead in Mexico, flowers adorn altars, paths and tombs, on a date when the dead return with the living to share the harvest.

Altar del Día de los Muertos /
Day of the Dead altar

Fotografía / Photography:

On the other hand, in “pleasure gardens”4 such as those of the palace of Villandry, in France, vegetables were planted primarily for aesthetic purposes, following the examples of Italian gardens from the sixteenth century. These gardens aimed to create suitable spaces for strolling, reflection, and relaxation for the nobility and the emerging bourgeoisie.

Vista de los jardines de Villandy /
View of the Villandry gardens

Fotografía / Photography:
Photography: pexels-axp-photography-16628337

Villandry gardens aimed to create suitable spaces for strolling, reflection, and relaxation for the nobility and the emerging bourgeoisie.

The Villandry palace was built between the 11th and 17th centuries. However, the current configuration of the plant spaces is the product of a restitution carried out in the 20th century. The gardens recovered the Renaissance style with the acquisition of Joachim Carvallo, who obtained the castle and modified the gardens between 1908 and 1918. Previously admired in the Renaissance era and modified by various owners, Carvallo restored them with scientific meticulousness, combining styles such as medieval, Renaissance and French, drawing inspiration from archeology and Renaissance literature.

Currently, this palace on the “Loire Valley Castles” route receives millions of visitors, especially in spring when the flowering season arrives. Maintained by Carvallo descendants, the Villandry gardens have adopted organic practices since 2009, especially in the orchard, prioritizing observation and prevention to avoid chemical treatments.

Vista aérea de los jardines de Villandry /
Aereal view of the Villandry gardens

Fotografía / Photography:
Jean-Christophe BENOIST, CC BY-SA 3.0

To conclude, it is necessary to highlight that floral gardens serve more broadly than just food and recreation, significantly helping biodiversity. Flowers and pollinating insects, such as bees, butterflies and beetles, establish a vital symbiosis. Flowers provide nectar and pollen, essential resources for insect nutrition, while insects, by feeding and transporting pollen from one flower to another in search of food, facilitate pollination and plant reproduction.

This interaction not only promotes the diversity of plant species, but also sustains entire ecosystems by providing food and habitats for a wide range of organisms, contributing to the health and stability of natural ecosystems.



Tlaj tij neki ti tlamauizoz

Uitzitzilin ipatlaniliz

Kualkantzin xi meua,

Xi mo ajuiaui mo tenkamak

Uan xi on mo tlalo

Xia xi mo xochimilchiauati


(If you want to admire the flight of hummingbirds
Wake up early,
Perfume your lips
And run fast
To plant the flowers in your garden)


Mardonio Carballo (náhuatl poet)