The educational garden of the Mediterranean forest
The Educational Garden of the Mediterranean Forest was created for the enjoyment of the visitors; its tailored educational contents offer them an opportunity to explore the diversity of plants of the Autonomous Community of Madrid, its geology and terrain mapping. To get the most out of the exhibition, there are separated areas within the garden representing the native flora of the Central region, but also of many other peninsular communities.
Thus, the terrain is divided into three main areas: the mountain, located in the pronounced slopes that surround the Museum on its East side; the steppe hills of Madrid, characterized by the naturally occurring gypsums of Madrid, and the transition area.
Visitors can step through the designated pathways into the different areas and appreciate the species that thrive in each of them.
Five modules recreate the different ecosystems of the Mediterranean Forest: The Rock Garden, with representatives of each particular form of rock in each region; The Gypsums, featuring some of the plants of the Southwest such as the Vella Spinosa, the ephedra or the catnip; The Limestones, which accommodate rich communities of calcicole plants from the East region of the province; The Transition Area, which houses specimens from the holm oak forests of Castilla la Mancha, the cork oak forests, the quijar forests or the ash tree forests. Lastly, and making the most out of the unevenness of the terrain, The Mountain Area is located in the highest part of the garden and includes specimens of the Piornal and the black pine.
The garden features a number of exotic trees and bushes that were planted a long time ago as representatives of the flora of different continents. Examples of these specimens are the atlas cedar (Cedrus atlantica) from Africa, the Japanese pagoda tree (Sophora japonica), the Photinia, the ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba), the White mulberry (Morus alba), the Chinese palm tree (Trachycarpus) and the Pittosporum. The eucalyptus represents Asian flora from Australia; the ash-leave maple (Acer negundo) is typical of North America, and the tree of love (Cercis siliquastrum) is a specimen of other Mediterranean areas.
This educational garden has been made possible thanks to the generous patronage of the Díaz-Bastien and Sánchez-Amillátegui family and of the Solventia Foundation, an organization aimed to promoting educational initiatives that encourage the dissemination of culture and science amongst children and young people. Driven by the same educational spirit, the MNCN (as part of the Spanish National Research Council, CSIC for its acronym in Spanish) makes use of this space to develop activity programmes that reveal the richness of the Mediterranean Forest; for those who would like to learn more about this type of forest, a didactic guide is available in the Museum shop.
There are several ways of visiting the garden. Upon taking the common path that leads to the thematic areas, visitors can explore them one by one, gradually learning about the features of each ecosystem; but they can also, at any moment, take secondary paths and create their own alternative routes across the independent areas. Indeed, the garden is a place where everybody can learn and have a great time.