Forgotten flowers flourishing
A botanical treasure of the Costa Blanca - the Iris Gardens in Marnes, near Benissa - is still thriving, despite the fact that it was abandoned two years ago.
The once popular tourist attraction was run by Christine Lomer and Nick Brown.
A BOTANICAL treasure of the Marina Alta is still thriving, despite the fact that it was abandoned two years ago. Once a popular tourist attraction, the Iris Gardens in Marnes, near Benissa, was owned by Christine Lomer and Nick Brown.
The couple purchased their house along with a large plot of land in 1997, and turned to the growing of irises, roses and tulips. Located in the foothills of the Sierra Bernia, they planted more than 500 varieties of iris and 300 of roses. The garden began to grow, and the owners created paths that meandered throughout the flowers, delighting the senses. Dry stone walls, ancient olive trees and delicate buds prospered in the Mediterranean sun. Once opened to the public, the gardens attracted hundreds of visitors who dared to brave the single track mountain road to the destination.
However, two years ago, Christine and Nick made the difficult decision to retire to France, and left the Iris Gardens for good. Caring for over 40,000 plants was just too much for the elderly couple, who had no mains water. Relying on the rain or having to order truckloads of water, the land became drier as year after year, droughts struck them. With heavy hearts, they decided to put the house and land up for sale, and donated much of their collection to the Torretes botanical gardens in Ibi.
In their absence, though, the gardens have now exploded into colour, and although the attraction is permanently closed, the garden maintains its splendour. Tulips, irises and lilies have all come into spec- tacular bloom because of recent rain.
Although the house has been sold, the land is currently for sale, and the hope is that one day somebody will seize the opportunity to tender the plants and resurrect an almost lost paradise, which was possibly the most important iris garden in Europe. Christine and Nick sometimes return to their opulent blooms, but only for nostalgic visits.
Visitors to the site are prohibited, but a glimpse of its bright and beautiful decline can be caught by walkers passing by.
Happy days: when the gardens were open to visitors
The 'abandoned'' garden this week