The Ethnobotanical Garden of Oaxaca, located within the Santo Domingo Cultural Center, in the historic center of the capital, was recognized as one of the top ten gardens in North America worth traveling for by the Canadian Garden Council (CGC), a recognition that the Oaxaca botanical garden shares with Las Pozas, in Xilitla, state of San Luis Potosi, a space of natural vegetation with surrealist sculptures by Edward James.

The Garden is located in the first square of the state capital, within the World Heritage Site, inside the former convent of Santo Domingo de Guzman. The Ethnobotanical Garden occupies 2.32 hectares and its land was part of the orchard of the old Convent of Santo Domingo -today Santo Domingo Cultural Center- built in the XVI and XVII centuries.

From the mid-19th century until 1994 it served as a barracks. In 1993, the Patronato pro-defense of the cultural and natural resources of Oaxaca (Pro-Oax) and the Harp Helú Foundation proposed converting the land into a garden. It was in 1999 when it was inaugurated. Part of the recognition is for the originality of the concept, because it is not a garden that shows beautiful plants, but seeks to convey a message to understand that the cultural development of Oaxaca is linked to its plant environment and that its flora is the most diverse in the country.

The Ethnobotanical Garden,
The Ethnobotanical Garden. Image: Oro Radio

Ecosystems of eight regions

The Ethnobotanical Garden of Oaxaca has about a thousand species of plants, representing the ecosystems and the eight regions of the state. However, the goal is to reach 1,300 species, which would represent about 10 percent of the total flora of Oaxaca. The plants come from different regions of the state, from both arid and humid climates, from the low tropical zones, and from temperate and cold mountainous areas.

On November 10, 1994, an agreement was published in the Official Gazette of the Federation to withdraw the old convent from the service of the Secretary of National Defense and assign it to the local government, as a space to create a botanical garden.

The design of the garden is the work of Toledo, Luis Zárate, and De Ávila. The Patio del Huaje and the fountain La Sangre de Mitla are the work of Toledo, while the fountain Espejo de Cuanana and the sculptures that modify the level and direction of the water in the canal are by Zárate. The garden displays works in wood and stone by artists Jorge DuBon, José Villalobos, and Jorge Yázpik.

One of the particular places of the space is the water mirror that on one of its sides has a fence of organs and nopal trees. Another favorite place is the organ fence, which surrounds a very significant archaeological vestige, a ceramic kiln, where not just any type of earthenware was made, but majolica. Care has been taken to ensure that the public finds a connection between the history of the place, the design of the garden, and the plants they are learning about.