1 Salburua Wetland, Vitoria – Gasteiz

The Salburua wetland recovery project, started in 1994, achieved that in 2002 this space, one of the parks that make up the Green Belt that surrounds the capital of Alava, was included in the prestigious Ramsar list, which highlights wetlands of international importance .

Also declared a protected area of ​​the Natura 2000 Network, its 206 hectares of extension have various ornithological observatories – it includes among its avifaunia threatened species such as the warbler, the gray heron or the little bittern, among others -, as well as a center of interpretation (Ataria), where we can find out about the different itineraries available to explore the wetland, such as self-guided walks around the rafts of Arcaute – during which you can see herds of deer just three kilometers from the city – and Betoño.

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 Central Park, in Valencia. In the background, restored buildings by the architect Demetrio Ribes. Richard Bloom

2 Central Park, Valencia

Opened in 2018, the Central Park opens a green space with more than a thousand trees in the heart of Valencia, based on a design by the American landscaper Kathryn Gustafson. “He has a very special sensitivity, he molds the terrain in a very sculptural way,” says Josep Tamarit, manager of the Autonomous Municipal Organism of Unique Parks and Gardens in Valencia.

Gustafson’s project, winner of an international competition with thirty applications, has turned a 110,000-square-meter site formerly occupied by railway lines into a pleasant garden in which light, water and green are the main references. A network of comfortable walks articulates the different areas of the Central Park, each with its own botanical typology, among which the area that brings together the restored buildings of the architect Demetrio Ribes, author of the North Station, stands out, and now they take cultural activities and sports.

Bougainvillea pergola in the Garden of the Lions in the Maria Luisa Park (Seville), on April 26.

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 Bougainvillea pergola in the garden of the Lions in the Maria Luisa park (Seville), on April 26. Niccolo Guasti getty images

3 María Luisa Park, Seville

To the 5,600 trees – among them 1,800 palm trees – and 1,200 bushes of the already centenary Maria Luisa Park, the (human) confinement has been a great fit. Although this Sevillian enclave reopened its doors since the first walks with children were allowed (at the end of April), “during the period in which it has been closed, nature has taken over the park, with a very interesting phenomenon of spontaneous growth” , says Pedro Torrent, head of the parks and gardens service of the Seville City Council. Among other reasons because, says Torrent, “it favors the growth of ornithological fauna”.

Created at the beginning of the last century for the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929, under the design of the French gardener Jean-Claude Nicolas Forestier, the María Luisa park looks splendid in the month of May among the jacaranda trees that bloom at various points (as in the Plaza de América or the surrounding María Luisa avenue) and the beautiful bougainvillea pergolas around the Los Leones fountain. But if we visit its gazebos and walks, we will be able to admire other equally interesting species, such as the soap dish from China —also known as the lantern tree, in the same Plaza América—, the tree of the soul or the magnolia trees on Rodríguez Caso Avenue, specimens that They survive from the beginning of the park, whose flowering occurs between May and June.

The exotic character of the origins of the garden, in which species from all over the world were planted —such as the jacaranda itself, native to South America—, is verified for example by observing the groves of grevilleas —the Australian oak or fire tree—, They are located around the Plaza de España. Pedro Torrent, who among the 600 species of shrubs highlights the quince from Japan, recommends not leaving this place without going through Mount Gurugú, already present in the original design of the Maríaa Luisa park, and its gazebo; “An emblematic point”, concludes Torrent.

Aquatic plant pools in the Mossèn Cinto Verdaguer garden, in Montjüic (Barcelona), on May 18.

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 Aquatic plant pools in the Mossèn Cinto Verdaguer garden, in Montjüic (Barcelona), on May 18. Joan Bernat

4 Mossèn Cinto Verdaguer Garden, Barcelona

Arranged sloping over an old quarry on a Montjüic mountain side, this cute park is a contemplative festival. Not only for the water lilies in full bloom – pink, yellow, white – and the lotus flowers that float in their 30 ponds, staggered on terraces and fed by a water spout that descends from an upper raft, crossed by a wooden bridge and shaded by “a cypress from the swamps, whose roots come out of the water, so that the tree can breathe, and remain visible to the visitor,” explains Joan Bernat, a technician at the Municipal Institute of Parks and Gardens in Barcelona. This charming Barcelona garden also offers views from above to the city, the sea and, on clear days, even the profile of the Montseny massif.

Lotus flower from the Mossèn Cinto Verdaguer garden in Barcelona.

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 Lotus flower from the Mossèn Cinto Verdaguer garden in Barcelona. j. bernat

Each of the garden ponds, opened in 1970 and four hectares in length, houses two or three species of aquatic plants respectively, among which we can see thalias, yellow and blue lilies, cyperus, sagittaria and, submerged, the chara, algae “key to water filtration”, explains Bernat. “Each raft of water thus forms a small ecosystem,” he says, “and in each there is also a variety of fauna, such as southern frogs, dragonflies or damselflies.” Among the birdlife in the park, the cattle egret stands out, which finds its food around the pools, as well as white wagtails and gray wagtails.

The grass beds of the Mossèn Cinto Verdaguer, furrowed by zigzag paths, also require a break, as we can see three of the nine species of orchids that flourish in the green spaces of Barcelona, ​​especially the bee orchid, “so named because its flower imitates the body of a female bee ”, clarifies Bernat.

5 Tierno Galván Park, Madrid

A corridor punctuated by melias, medium-sized trees and purple flowers, which is in full splendor these days, receives the visitor in the parking lot of this Madrid park opened during phase 0 of deconfusion. Located in the Arganzuela district, 45 hectares long and dedicated to the memory of the mayor Tierno Galván, its highest area, overlooking the city next to the dome of the Madrid Planetarium (closed now), it rises in the so-called Cerro de la Plata. “The name is actually due to the shine produced by the charcoal remains from the trains that left and arrived at the old [y aledaña al parque] Delicias station ”, explains Antonio Morcillo, deputy director general for green areas conservation in the Madrid City Council. From here, the walk leads to the large open-air auditorium, naturalized with grass beds between the semicircle benches, which are occupied by walkers and athletes first thing in the morning. The perimeter and posterior grove are punctuated by different tree species, such as the omnipresent plane trees – “the most frequent in the streets of Madrid”, Morcillo clarifies -, catalpas, spiky poplars, cedars from the Himalayas – preferred to nest by the large population of parrots from the capital—, mulberry trees, stone pines, with a spherical crown, or Japanese cherry trees, whose purple leaf contrasts with the surrounding green, especially lush after the human absence in recent weeks.

Naturalized stands in the auditorium of the Tierno Galván park, in Madrid.

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 Naturalized stands in the auditorium of the Tierno Galván park, in Madrid.

From the viewpoint facing south of the city, the highest point of the Tierno Galván park, a zigzag path descends to the lower area, refreshed by rafts of reclaimed water that explain the presence of other types of trees in its grass meadows. For example, elm and hackberry, the latter has been planted to replace the former for years, since most elm specimens suffer from the galeruca plague (a small beetle that eats its leaves). We will also see false acacia trees; country maple, whose fruit “is wrapped by a winged leaf so that, when it falls, they favor the dispersal of the seeds,” explains Morcillo; willows and tall white poplars.

“We can find some 220 different types of trees in the streets of the city,” says Antonio Morcillo, author of the Madrid Trees Pocket Guide, which lists the 50 most frequent species in parks and sidewalks, “but only 8 or 10 of them share 70 or 80% of Madrid’s tree heritage ”. The roundabout on Calle Meneses, another long boulevard dotted with flowery melias, whose tops form a kind of natural pergola tinged with purple, returns us to the auditorium of Tierno Galván. End of the ride.

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