The Tapestry Garden

Spanish landscape architect Javier Mariátegui designed a Tapestry Garden for the Caja Inmaculada (CAI Foundation) Pavilion at the 2008 International Exposition in Zaragoza. It was the highlight of my visit to the Expo, which was planned around the theme of water and sustainable development. I was delighted to receive his small book, The Tapestry Garden, in which he describes his design; with its bilingual text and photographs on almost every page, this is a jewel of a book.

The inspiration and centerpiece of the design was a medieval tapestry of Flemish origin from the collection of Zaragoza’s La Seo Cathedral; the tapestry was recently restored with funding provided by the CAI Foundation. The tapestry features water and plants and is titled “Baptism in the River Jordan.” Set into one wall of the rectangular pavilion, it was surrounded by a wall of plants with canals of water flowing through, symbolizing the Persian paradise garden.

One visitor wrote,

The cornered pavilion, in spite of its discretion, surprises the visitor. The vast garden opens to everyone that enters this space, taking the visitor to a multicoloured Eden, where calm gives us the immensity of beauty in its natural construction and the marvelous tapestry that hangs on one of its walls, matching perfectly with the floral wall that will become more magnificent as the Expo develops.

The plant selection involved a search for species capable of surviving for three months in an interior space without natural light or air circulation. A total of 17,163 plants were used, including masses of Fittonia, Nephrolepis, Peperomia, Nertera, Ficus repens, and numerous other species, all listed in the book. The Tapestry Garden is a fitting tribute to a delightful garden that will linger in the memories of everyone who saw it.

Katherine Greenberg, garden designer
Lafayette, California