This is the original submission of my article in THE NEWS (Mexico DF) printed in the March 18 edition as “Tourism Blooms in Central State.” I am posting the article to my blog because the link will disappear before long. http://www.thenews.com.mx/index.php/mexico-articulos/19932-tourism-blooms-in-central-state
TOURISM SHOULD BE COMING UP ROSES IN MORELOS
Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico James J. Horn, Ph.D.
One of the most spectacular Mexican tourist developments in decades is blossoming in Morelos, where Jardines de México has created the largest and most biodiverse flower garden in the world. The site in Jojutla near Lake Tequesquitengo, is just a 25-minute drive south of Cuernavaca and 90 minutes from Mexico City. (www.jardinesdemexico.com).
Hundreds of thousands of tourists flock annually to famous flower gardens around the world. The developers in Morelos have undertaken a project that will overshadow competitors, and because of the state’s climate of “eternal spring,” this one will never have a seasonal shutdown. Jardines de México has nine distinctively different but equally eye-catching gardens. With 100 hectares (almost 250 acres) and 50 hectares in plantings, it dwarfs Holland’s Keukenhof with just 32 hectares.
The tropical garden boasts scores of species like ferns, heliconia, plumeria, and bromeliads, over 500 palms in 50 varieties, an orquidarium featuring prominent varieties like Phalaeanopsis as well as species native to Mexico. In contrast, the landscape architect has created a garden similar to the Desert Museum in Tucson. Visitors can imagine they are in the Sonoran desert where most of the 600 varieties were rescued from a mining development, including a Great Saguaro over 36 feet high and a giant two-hundred-year-old Candelabra Cactus.
Set apart by centuries and a continent is a formal Italian-style garden that recreates a Renaissance epoch Florentine villa. Cyprus trees, bubbling fountains, and Carrara marble statues set off hundreds of thousands of colorful flowers in geometric plantings.
The Garden of the Four Springs offers roses, tulips, dahlias, marigolds, chrysanthemums, and poinsettias, in flowerbeds that change seasonally.
By now the visitor has tramped for over two hours and can’t imagine what still lies ahead. A Japanese-style garden features brooks flowing past Asian-themed sculptures into lily-ponds. A tile-roofed pagoda provides a shady spot to pause and contemplate the tranquility.
After that needed repose, one can meander over a kilometer of pathways in the Labyrinth of the Senses, where around each bend a clearing flaunts a magnificent sculpture.
In keeping with the eco-friendly conception, buildings are constructed of natural materials. An enormous structure called “Bamboo,” facing an artificial lake and sprightly water fountains, will cater to special events for 500 diners.
A children’s area will amuse toddlers with entertaining and educational environmental programs. Nearby is a private space for nursing mothers. Other buildings house shops for souvenir, handicraft, and plant sales, and first-aid attention. Wheel chairs, golf carts, audio-tour headsets, and a cellphone app are still to come.
A huge convention center can accommodate 600 people. Cultural events will take place in an outdoor arena for 5000 people. Here Mexican tenor Fernando de la Mora will present the inaugural concert March 22. Projected for 2015 is a hotel with 120 bungalows.
Truly commendable is the extraordinary environmental commitment of the management, using sustainable resources and adapting the latest technology for recyling water, solar lighting, and temperature controls in greenhouses covering seven acres that propagate over a million flowers. Sustainable development classes will be included when Jardines de México opens the first school in Mexico to train professional gardeners.
The implications for the economy are equally impressive. The private developers have already invested 50 million dollars, purchasing 28 parcels of ejido lands and hiring a thousand laborers, mostly from Tehuixtla and Puente de Ixtla, who have spent three years transforming the terrain into a floral paradise. At a press conference in Cuernavaca March 11, General Manager José Antonio Esparza Carvajal said that ongoing operations will require a thousand employees to maintain and service the prodigious enterprise. He estimated the project can generate three times as much indirect employment. State Secretary of Tourism Jaime Álvarez Cisneros predicted the gardens would be the engine of economic development in the state. Small wonder the first inaugural event is a visit by President Enrique Peña Nieto March 19.
Pre-inaugural visitors to the gardens have been overwhelmed by the vision and ambition of the undertaking that will kick off with three days and nights of grand opening activities March 22, 23, 24. Details on location, hours, admission prices, and inaugural events can be found online at www.jardinesdemexico.org. One cannot exaggerate the momentous impact of this jaw-dropping mega-project for the state and the country and the delight it will bring to visitors.