The Exotic Garden of Monaco
Monaco is a sovereign city-state and microstate located on the French Riviera. France borders the country on three sides while the other side borders the Mediterranean Sea. It is the second smallest and the most densely populated country in the world. Monaco’s mild climate and splendid scenery (plus its gambling facilities) have contributed to the principality’s status as a premier tourist destination and a recreation centre for the rich and famous. My granddaughter and I were staying for a few nights in Nice and, on one day, took the train to Monaco. We had our eyes opened to a world that was quite apart from the one to which we are accustomed. Having read about the exotic cacti garden and of the amazing panoramic views afforded from its position high on the rocky cliff face overlooking the beautiful Mediterranean, we walked up, up, up! The highest point in the country is in the Jardin Exotique District.
Opened in 1933 by Prince Louis II, this garden is the result of a rich collection of succulents that began in 1895. It displays a collection of over a thousand species of semi-desert plants, especially cacti. Some of the plants reach a gigantic size in this exceptional microclimate. There are blossoms all of the year depending on the origin of each species. They come from arid areas worldwide – south west USA, Mexico, Central and South America and the Orient. From the higher part of the garden there is an exceptional view over Monaco and the French Riviera.
The gardens in and around Monte Carlo Casino Square
Many cacti only flower for a period of 24 hours once a year. This was my experience when growing one in my Past Garden but what beauty was to be enjoyed in that short time.
Wikipedia has a reference from a surprising source, noting a cactus flower: John Wesley’s Journal on Monday 24th July 1780 describes the blooming and fading of the Nightly Cereus which had a 125 mm diameter white centre and 225 mm diameter Yellow ray petals.
“I have long thought there is a spiritual dimension to this, one of God’s creations, and a lesson for us. Not many things thrive on neglect. People, relationships, and most growing things need care. But this hardy plant lives to bloom no matter what I do to it. I have not fed or repotted it in many years, though I realize I am confessing my poor gardening skills about a family heirloom publicly. It is hard-wired into this cactus to produce glorious blooms out of nothing but the reservoir below the surface. We, too, can appear to be passed our prime…..at the end of the road……suffering from various maladies that afflict us throughout this life, having neglected the care of ourselves or having been discarded by others whose approval and love we longed to receive. People can be figuratively sitting at the place where my plant is right now – at the back corner of the house – feeling unable or unworthy to venture forth to a proper place in the mix of others. We pass them all the time. They can even be each of us from time to time. Do we even notice?
Each of us has intrinsic value and the potential for a bloom to burst forth from the most unexpected place. Don’t miss it! ‘Behold I am doing a new thing. Now it shall spring forth. Do you perceive it?’ Isaiah 43:19 (I am trying to watch for the ‘new thing’ when we least expect it and I am seeing it all around).
The Lord God provides a reservoir of sorts for us as well – ways of sustaining us when we have exhausted our own resources.”