no knick knacks, no shop, no cafe… just green space

When I visit another country, if I am near a botanical garden, I make a point to visit the garden. The Botanical Garden of the University of Coimbra, Portugal was founded in 1772-1774.  In the US. botanical gardens are show pieces, places of best practices.  It is hard to find a blade of grass out of place.  Either because European botanical gardens are not well-funded or the idea of a what a botanical garden should be is different, the Botanical Garden of the University of Coimbra is free, does not have a shop, a cafe; you are free to just wander around.
Many parts of the garden were closed due Hurricane Leslie which occurred in October 2018.
The mission of the garden is to preserve as many Portuguese plant species from the last five centuries as well as from ex-colonies of Portugal.You wander through the garden, there are weeds, there are hedges that need to be  clipped and you feel enveloped by interesting plants and trees, but not necessarily an over concern for tidiness and neatness.

Glasshouse at the Botanical Garden

Porto, Portugal  has many small parks, green spaces and one large garden.  I was stumped by the trees in the photos below.  What led to the unusual shape of the trunks of these trees?
It turns out that the swollen trunks are the manifestation of the trees (plantanus x hispanica) reaction to a “traumatic sickness” decades ago.  The name of the “sickness” I was unable to find out.  This lovely park was historically a place where artisans made rope.  It was re-purposed in 1865 by German landscape architect, Emilio David.  The name Jardim da Cordoaria means Garden of Ropery or Garden of Cord Warners.
When was the last time you want to large public park where chickens, ducks and peacocks roamed freely?  The Palacio de Cristal  (Jardim Do Palacio de Cristal) in Porto is the only park I have been to where wildlife walk unhindered on the same paths as the public. This park was also designed by Emilio David in the 19th century.  There are many exotic trees (see below). I could not identify these trees. if anyone can help, it would be greatly appreciated.
Palacio de Cristal gets its name from glass, iron and granite structure that was built for 1865 Exposicao Internacional do Porto.  The structure was inspired by the Crystal Palace design for London’s Great Exhibition in 1851.

The Park has three levels – the top most walkway is where you enter the park from the street.  The second level contains some of the more formal gardens, like the Jardim do Roseiral (Garden of Roses) and the bottom level is all about the views of Douro.

Of equal interest are ways people make gardens/green spaces in the small towns in Portugal.
And this is what I found when we drove past an upper middle class neighborhood on the outskirts of Lousa, Portugal.

The above gardens are all deliberately planted.  I enjoy all these unexpected moments in small towns around northern Portugal.


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