Name of project: Allende Park

Garden surface: 8 ha

Construction year: 1985-2012

Location: Parcela Esmeralda, Quillota, Chile

Architect of house: Edwards y Soffia Arquitectos

This garden is one of the most significant I have created, as I have been working on it for almost three decades. The way it has been planted has allowed me to observe the growth and development of the plants over many years.

At the start of the project, in 1985, the site for development was a lot of approximately 5000 m2 within a large estate. There was a house with some plants, surrounded by hills with very sparse, rain-fed native vegetation. There was also a reservoir for agricultural irrigation, surrounded by scrub, some agaves and hawthorns to protect the water. There were few noble species, only a few quillayes, a large cork oak, a group of jacarandas near the reservoir, a few young crepe myrtles and adult pepper trees. There were also many eucalyptus and varieties of pine that are no longer there.

We started our work by opening views towards the hill and leading the eye into the distance. To achieve this, we planted large groups of trees on the slopes-cork oaks, pataguas, quillayes- and added more crepe myrtles to the existing clusters. The reservoir began to change into a lagoon, eventually becoming the heart of the park. We encircled it with pataguas, cork oaks and pin oaks. A border path edged with shrubs and flowers was designed to lead around it.

Over the years, we added spaces with different characteristics to the first garden, each one related to the existing landscape, topography, natural water channels, etc. A palm grove emerged, which we filled with Chilean and pindó palms, accompanied in turn by large expanses of groundcover plants and flowers such as agapanthus and varieties of daylilies. A natural spring hidden between blackberries and undergrowth became the Stream Garden, framed between pataguas and winter’s bark, with Japanese maples as a backdrop. Giant rhubarb, ferns and other smaller water plants were planted at its edges.

In front, on one slope, there was a plantation of almond trees of low productivity. We decided to transform the place with conifers and ferns. Over time, these species, including star pine, cedar, and parana pine, owing to their tall heights, framed the garden from a distance. On one side of the conifers, a small path leads to a forest of poplars and natal lilies, which the owner had grown in large quantities.

As the garden progressed, the space in front of the lagoon gradually became the most favored spot. The owner then decided to build a house facing it, since the place had acquired a remarkable atmosphere, populated with hydrangeas, papyrus and bald cypresses. The next stage was the creation of a new landscape: the entryway. There, in the space planned for the parking lots and stables, we planted oaks, cockspur coral trees, jacarandas, ligustrinas pekinensis, silk floss trees, flowering laurels and stretches of ground-cover plants.

As the garden grew and took over other sites that responded to its characteristics, it became necessary to weave together its different parts which are, ultimately, a sequence of landscapes. We did this by implementing transitions between them: the thresholds. This garden’s identity comes from the mystery of passing from one place to another through thresholds formed by walls of dark vegetation.

After some years of work and many exchanges with the owner, he came to understand my proposals very well. I gave him some guidelines and he took the initiative of planting the slopes of some hills that can be seen from the garden–and which previously offered a poor view–basically covering them with native trees. This was a big contribution to the garden as a whole, both as a support as well as a limit.

I remember several productive dialogues about which plants to incorporate, which plants did not adapt to the place, how to prune them, etc. For example, some time ago a bald cypress, that had been planted near the edge of the lagoon two decades ago or more, began to lean.

The doubt I shared with the owner was whether to prevent it from falling into the water by propping it up in some way, or simply to let nature take its course. We opted for the latter. A couple of years ago, Pedro Tomás called me to let me know that the huge tree had fallen. But this painful event was attenuated because it brought with it an unexpected gift: the fall of the cypress opened a distant view of a group of sycamore trees that had taken many years to grow to their present size.

It is relevant to mention here the relationship I have enjoyed with Pedro Tomás Allende, the owner of the garden and a passionate nature lover. He is always researching and assembling new collections, whether of orchids, new varieties of water lily, and even birds and fishes.

Pedro Tomás’s deep love for the place and his knowledge as a horticulturalist have made it possible to maintain the garden carefully through all these years, a maintenance he has personally directed. Something that began as a relatively small garden has transformed into a grand park that today covers nearly 8-hectares.