The Botanical Garden is a world of its own, says Gabriela Cutrera.
“The Botanical Garden is like an island in the middle of the city. It’s a whole other world,” says Gabriela Cutrera as she opens the door to her realm: the beautiful Greenhouse Number 1. Inside the greenhouse, it’s a whole other climate too. At the height of summer, the mercury is creeping into the 90s even outside, and inside the greenhouse, historic structure that was first exhibited at the 1910 Paris Universal Exhibition, it’s positively sweltering.
Working in a unique microclimate
Gabriela Cutrera is a floriculture and gardening technician who for almost a decade coordinated the team of volunteers that looks after the botanical garden. She’s now in charge of overseeing the tropical plants in the famous Art Nouveau greenhouse with its narrow passageways overhung with bracken.
“First thing, early in the morning, we run a check on the greenhouse,” Gabriela says. “At this time of year with the heat, we have to be checking and watering all the time, getting to know each plant and seeing what it needs: if it needs water or not, if it needs moving, removing dry leaves, multiplying, pruning. It’s constant. They’re like your babies that you have to look after.”
Some of the volunteers at the garden are students of floriculture and gardening, while other are members of the public who have no connection to the subject but find an almost therapeutic quality in the work. “There are people who come because they want to collaborate with the garden, and for some working here is their way of disconnecting and unwinding,” Gabriela says. “Working with plants is extremely gratifying because you do things well and you see the results. The plants respond. You arrive and you see that this or that plant has flowered. You see changes every day.”
“Working in something you enjoy is priceless. On the one hand, I love the plants, the greenery: being connected to the earth and working in the open air, getting dirty. And I like the people I work with too because it’s a very heterogeneous group but all of us have this same passion for the plants.
When to visit?
Created by the French landscaper Charles Thays in 1898, Buenos Aires’ Botanical Garden covers seven hectares and has a collection of some 6,000 tree and plant species, many grouped into regions. It has a butterfly garden, a botanical library, oriental gardens, a herbarium, five greenhouses, and a large collection of sculptures. The best time of year to visit to see all this at its best? Any time, Gabriela says.
“There’s always a sector with something interesting to see. Springtime in September and October is a very nice time, but autumn’s also really nice with the changing colours. All year round there’s something to enjoy in the garden. You explore and see the colours of the plants and Nature will always surprise you.”