We had arranged to interview Pepe Perez, the owner of the Botanical Garden “Cactus Algar” in Callosa d 'en Sarria, not far from the resort of Benidorm.
The parking area at the entrance, has a variety of cacti, giving us a glimpse of what to expect inside.
We announced our arrival to Vicente, Pepe's brother, who was manning the ticket office and explored the souvenir shop while we waited.
Pepe, a friendly elderly gentleman takes us on a guided tour of his garden, a project he has been working on for many years .
The garden first opened in July 2001 and was half the size it is today. They poured all the profits back into improving and enlarging the landscaped garden.
He is extremely proud of his work, all the walls, paths, benches and fountains have been built by Pepe, a plumber by trade.
He confesses that cacti never really interested him, but now he admits talking to them and encouraging them to flourish. Plants are watered via a drip irrigation system he installed, explaining that cacti need care to maintain healthy free from fungi and mites.
He points out some of the unusual plants such as a Pasacana which has mutated and a cristata with an unusual flower.
How do people react when the visit the garden?
They're usually very surprised that the garden is private and congratulate me on my work.
How long do you need to tour the garden?
It depends. An hour to an hour and a half but to fully appreciate it you need two hours.
What do your family think of this?
(He laughs) My family think I'm mad, but in reality they love it.
While we are chatting a lady visiting the garden approaches us, congratulates Pepe and asks him when are all the cacti in flower. Pepe explains that there are so many cacti from different parts of the world that they do not all flower at the same time but the majority are in bloom in April and May.
Do you have a regular clientèle?
On average we have between 30.000 to 40.000 visitors a year, many of them have been before and return with friends.
Do you have a favourite place in the garden a refuge?
"Yes" – and he led me to a beautiful tree shaped fountain.
What are your plans for the future?
He takes me to an open area with no paths and details his designs and plans for the area. “I have a lot of ideas and this encourages me to improve and keep on working”.
It is evident that Pepe has many plans to improve the garden, his garden.
We would like to thank Pepe for the guided tour he so kindly gave us and to wish him success in his future projects.
Callosa d'en Sarrià (Alicante)
GPS: 38,6523º N - 0,091º W
Telephone + 00 34 96 588 10 95
Mobile + 0034 616 94 90 05