From the Botanical Gardens with 5,000 exotic species to the Park Taoro with its terraced gardens, laced with pathways and waterfalls, Puerto de la Cruz is one of the most enticing resorts in Tenerife for those with a passion for gardening. But probably the most enchanting jewel in its botanical crown is the orchid garden, Sitio Litre.
Sitio Litre, which is the oldest orchid garden on the island, is set in the grounds of a beautiful villa on the outskirts of the resort. The garden contains more than 350 varieties of orchids for botany enthusiasts to explore, many of which are allowed to grow naturally along pathways, in the bark of trees and amongst the numerous beds.
This History of Sitio Litre
The villa is named after British merchant and passionate botanist, Archibald Little, who bought it back in 1774. Little transformed what had been a convent into a magnificent mansion and brought his love of flowers (particularly orchids) to bear on the beautiful gardens.
From bougainvillea and hibiscus to the more than 350 species of orchid, Little made the gardens into a sanctuary for these beautiful exotic plants, and the work he started carries on today. Of course, over the years the British name ‘Little’ became – with Spanish pronunciation – ‘Litre’, hence the name Sitio Litre.
Like many resorts in Tenerife, Puerto de la Cruz has attracted its fair share of celebrity visitors over the years, some of whom have fallen in love with the orchid gardens. In the eighteenth century, German botanist Alexander von Humboldt declared the Orotava Valley, in which the villa and its gardens are set, the most beautiful landscape in the world.
One of its most prestigious fans was the Victorian botanical artist Marianne North, who was so enraptured by the garden that she spent months staying in the villa here, painting its flowers. Around 800 of the paintings and drawings she created during her stay are now on permanent display at Kew Gardens, but for those keen to see her work in its original context, there are a great number also exhibited in the house at Sitio Litre.
Another famous visitor was the British writer Agatha Christie, who famously retreated here after her marriage broke down, and after she was ‘found’ following her mysterious disappearance. Christie was a regular visitor to the mansion and their gardens, and was so inspired by the peace and tranquillity of the place that she even wrote many novels while staying here.
Having inspired such great artists and writers, it seems that the orchid gardens at Sitio Litre are still casting their spell over visitors today. Whether you choose to simply meander its paths and walkways, or if you’re an amateur botanist keen to examine some of the wonderful varieties here up close, you’ll find yourself enchanted by its exquisite botanical landscape.
John Dixon is an experienced world traveller and the Managing Director of Prestige Holidays. For over 30 years, he has been providing holidays in luxury resorts in Tenerife, as well as holidays in Bermuda, Croatia and many other destinations around the globe. John tries to visit each of the destinations regularly in order to ensure the quality of his properties, and stay up-to-date about the latest local news and events. He has a taste for the finer things in life and has an interest in arts, history and culture.
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