Friday, September 23, 2016

Monaco's Green Spaces

For such a small country, Monaco is draped with an abundance of green spaces, covering 20% of its territory. In fact, the country has boasted a commitment to ecology, starting in 1873 with Prince Albert I, long before environmental consciousness was a bandwagon to jump on.

Though it's the Monte Carlo Casino, Grand Prix and other opulent- and luxury-laden sights and events that get all the tourist attention, my interest in Monaco is the myriad parks and gardens.

Located along a picturesque cliffside, the Exotic Garden is rich in plant species that are adapted to dry climes, namely cacti and succulents. These are sources from as far away as Central America and South Africa. The Japanese Garden is a wee affair, designed by noted landscape architect Yasuo Beppo. A man-made lake and a tumbling waterfall take up a good part of this small garden where the hardscape structures, including the gates and stone lanterns, were all sourced from Japan. A lovely spot to take in the shade is a lakefront pavilion. A path meanders past a small pond and myriad wild Mediterranean flora at the St. Martin’s Garden that’s also dotted with outdoor sculptures. After wandering along the paths, take a break at one of the many benches scattered about. Named for Prince Rainier's oldest sister, Princess Antoinette Park is a nicely manicured expanse with well-tended lawns and numerous gnarled olive trees