A surrealist sculpture garden in San Luis Potosí created by an eccentric Brit in the second half of the 20th century has been included on a list of the world’s great gardens.
The Sculpture Garden of Edward James, located near the town of Xilitla in the tropical Huasteca region of the state, is now one of almost 100 gardens recognized by Great Gardens of the World, a worldwide network of international gardens, garden designers and landscape architects.
Commonly known as Las Pozas (The Pools), the 9-hectare garden is the first in Mexico to be included on the Great Gardens list.
It was chosen for inclusion in the “follies” category, “where owners and architects alike have obviously had fun, and where we can let our imagination go free.”
Featuring 40 buildings, structures and sculptures along with natural and artificial pools and waterfalls, Las Pozas was the brainchild of Edward James, a poet and artist who was also a great patron of the surrealist art movement.
The garden is located on land once occupied by a coffee plantation that James purchased in 1947 and registered under the name of his close friend Plutarco Gastelum.
According to the Great Gardens of the World website, James initially used the land as a plantation for his orchid collection and as a home for a range of animals including deer, ocelots, snakes and flamingos and other birds.
But after an unprecedented frost in 1962 that destroyed many of his plants, he decided to use concrete to build an array of surrealist sculptures and structures that could withstand the whims of the weather.
More than 150 locals including bricklayers, carpenters and gardeners helped James realize his vision over a period of years. Construction was finally halted in 1984, the year James died, and seven years later the garden was opened to the public.
According to Great Gardens of the World, visitors to Las Pozas enter into a “dream world” that is home to a “surrealistic labyrinth.”
There are “buildings that evoke fantasy, doors that open up to nothing, stairs that lead to the sky, and concrete flowers that grow along with natural ones.”
Among the structures is the Bamboo Palace, which James, who called it “the tower of hope,” said would one day be his home.
Other structures also have intriguing names – there is the House of the Stag, the House of the Ocelot, the Stairway to Heaven and the Three-Story House that Might Have Five. One of the garden’s walkways is called the Path of the Seven Deadly Sins.
The Pedro y Elena Hernández Foundation, an organization dedicated to the conservation of Mexico’s natural assets, acquired Las Pozas in 2007 and the garden was declared an artistic monument by the National Institute of Fine Arts in 2012.
The sculpture garden is located about 400 kilometers north of Mexico City and approximately 350 kilometers southeast of San Luis Potosí city. Entry is 100 pesos for adults and tickets can be bought in advance on the garden’s website.
Source: El Universal (sp)