Spanish Paradise: Gardens of the Alhambra

May 21–August 21

Travel to southern Spain in just an afternoon. This unprecedented exhibition explores the collaboration of sublime nature and dramatic design that created an earthly paradise. Read the works of Federico García Lorca as you stroll the gardens surrounding the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, enjoy flamenco each weekend, and discover the food and culture of Spain.


About Spanish Paradise
A high point in the world's art, architecture, gardens, and culture, the Alhambra is a 14th-century monument that presents landscape architecture as an art form, incorporating architecture, gardens, and gateways in one of the world's commanding citadels and most spectacular settings. The exhibition features flowing fountains, elegant arches, and a broad palette of Old World plants anchored by date palms, pomegranate trees, Italian cypress, and more—all within the Victorian elegance of the Conservatory.

About the Curators Honorary curator Penelope Hobhouse is a garden writer, designer, historian, and lecturer. She has designed gardens in England, Scotland, France, Italy, Spain, Germany, and the United States. Her designs include The Country Garden for the Royal Horticultural Society at Wisley, a renaissance-style garden in Italy, and a garden for fashion designer Jil Sander in Germany.

Francisca P. Coelho, Vivian and Edward Merrin Associate Vice President for Glasshouses and Exhibitions at the Garden, is best known for her plantsmanship and key role in the design and development of high-profile shows in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory. A graduate of the Garden's School of Professional Horticulture, she has been a member of the Horticulture staff since 1981.

Meet the Curator, Francisca P. Coelho (Members-Only): May 20, 3–4 p.m.

Poetry Walk
Along Perennial Garden Way

On view during regular Garden hours Sixteen poetry boards present Federico García Lorca's poems, many of them referencing plants, flowers, and gardens, taking visitors through some of the most beautiful Garden collections during the spring and summer seasons.

Image courtesy of the
Hispanic Society of America
Historical Views: Tourists at the Alhambra

In the LuEsther T. Mertz Library's William D. Rondina and Giovanni Foroni LoFaro Gallery On view during regular Garden hours Rare prints, historical photographs, watercolor drawings, and objects from the rich collections of the Hispanic Society of America immerse visitors in the Alhambra's history and design. Perspectives from tourists to the Alambra, including its most famous, Washington Irving, will be featured.

Historical Views is organized by Patrick Lenaghan, Curator of the Department of Prints and Photographs at the Hispanic Society of America.
Members-Only Gallery Talk: May 20, 1 p.m.


Flamenco Among the FlowersIn the Conservatory Courtyard
Saturdays & Sundays, 1, 2, & 3 p.m..

The Garden comes alive with the sounds, rhythms, and movements of flamenco. FLAMENCO: Inside/Out introduces this traditional Spanish art form using live music and performers from various ethnic, cultural, and artistic backgrounds.

Home Gardening Demonstrations
In various locations around the Garden
May 21 & 22, June 18 & 19, July 23 & 24, August 20 & 21, 1:30 p.m.

Join Gardener for Public Education Sonia Uyterhoeven for a discussion of Islamic gardens, exploring the design and plant choices of the Alhambra.

The Food and Culture of the Alhambra
In the Perennial Garden May 22, June 12 (Maricel Presilla), July 10, August 21, 4 p.m.

Discover the food and culture of the al-Andalus region of Spain. Tastings and special presentations highlight the flavors of almond, citrus, olives, eggplant, and more.

My Lorca Poetry Series
In the Perennial Garden
May 21, June 11, July 16, August 20, 4 p.m.

Participate in a reading and discussion of favorite Federico García Lorca poems by noted poets and writers, including Tracy K. Smith and Monica de la Torre. Co-presented with the Poetry Society of America


Waterlily Concert Series
On the Conservatory Lawn
August 4, 11, 18, 7 p.m.

Purchase a picnic dinner and a glass of wine and enjoy beautiful music on the Conservatory Lawn. Don't miss the after-hours viewing of Spanish Paradise until 7 p.m.

Generous support provided by Vivian and Edward Merrin


Paradise on Earth: The Alhambra
In the Watson Building
Saturday, June 11, 10 a.m.–3:30 p.m. Non-Member $123/Member $110

Instructor: Marta McDowell

This lecture-workshop will explore the cultural antecedents of the Alhambra and its sister sites in Cordoba and Seville, and the lingering influence of these gardens today. The class will tour the exhibition Spanish Paradise: Gardens of the Alhambra in the Conservatory, and students will apply their learning with a hands-on garden design project. To see more classes related to the Alhambra


Friday, May 20, 10 a.m.–7 p.m.

Members have access to the exhibition and special programs before the public opening. Exclusive benefits also include:

  • Free parking with a valid Member ID
  • 20% off purchases at Shop in the Garden
  • 10% discount at both Cafes
  • Up to four half-price tickets for friends and family

Home Gardening Demonstrations
12 p.m. - GreenSchool in the Conservatory
Join Gardener for Public Education Sonia Uyterhoeven for a discussion of Islamic gardens, exploring the design and plant choices of the Alhambra.   
Flamenco Dancing
1 p.m., 2 p.m., and 3 p.m. - In the Conservatory Courtyard
The Garden comes alive with the sounds, rhythms, and movements of flamenco. This traditional and vibrant Spanish art form is presented with live music and performers from various ethnic cultures and artistic backgrounds.

Guest passes will be accepted.

Membership information