In images, in picturesExtraordinary gardens (2/6). Away from the noise and violence of the Brazilian megalopolis, this green refuge is home to 22,000 plants and trees from all over the world as well as many animal species. Photographer Vincent Catala explored this place of research and study, now threatened.
And suddenly, silence. Nothing but the wind that makes the leaves quiver in the treetops. Here and there, we hear the croaking of a parrot, the howl of a monkey or the ringing of a discreet fountain, at the end of an alley. It is four o’clock. It is the southern winter. The sun is already setting over the mountains covered with tropical forests. And Rio seems so far away.
Yet here we are indeed in the heart of the “Marvelous City”, a noisy metropolis of 7 million souls (double the counting the suburbs), better known for its beaches, its favelas and the frenzy of its festivals than for its calm. and its serenity. But the Jardim Botânico is a place apart, unique and mysterious. A real refuge.
To find it, you have to move away from Copacabana or Ipanema and head for Lagoa, a chic and residential area, sandwiched between the beautiful Rodrigo de Freitas lagoon and the Corcovado mountain range. The Botanical Garden is visible for miles: recognizable by its imperial palm trees, veritable plant lookouts, raised in the sky at more than thirty meters high.
A nature that imposes
Is it the effect of the magnificence of the place? Upon entry, the usually thunderous Carioca drops in a tone and – unbelievable! – sometimes even takes to whispering. Because the Rio Botanical Garden, considered one of the most beautiful in the world, imposes on its many visitors (500,000 per year). Over 55 hectares, the site is home to more than 22,000 plants and trees from around the world, belonging to some 3,400 species, many of which are threatened with extinction.
There are the alleys of palm trees, emblematic. But also the Brazilian classics: jackfruit, mango trees, pink cedars, Parana pines, guarajuba, jequitibá, traveller’s trees in clusters and bamboo in bouquets … A special place is given to the Amazonian vegetation: walnut trees, latex rubber trees, palm trees. açaí, pau mulato with a shiny trunk and, above all, the spectacular sumaúma, trees sacred giants several tens of meters high.
Japanese garden, Asian essences … the Botanical Garden is a small breviary of the plant world, but also of animals. It is easy to come across a whole slew of birds: toucans, parrots, striated herons, kingfishers, hummingbirds … Gray-haired monkeys are legion and sloths often pass through. So many animals for whom the Covid-19 was a blessing: in 2020-2021, the Botanical Garden remained closed for weeks, giving free rein to natural life.
You have 53.59% of this article to read. The rest is for subscribers only.