The Gardens of San Miguel


There’s one garden in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico that’s known to residents and visitors alike and it’s “El Jardin” right in the center of the Colonial city.  What’s interesting and even iconic about this city park is the way the trees are pruned – into always-perfect flat spheres.  Here you see them behind Miss San Miguel in the recent Independence Day Parade.  (On my visit I was disabused of the notion that  Cinco de Mayo is Mexican Independence Day – apparently that’s only celebrated in the States.  South of the border, September 16 is the day.)

To see the trees from above, click here.  Very cool!

In an upscale part of this upscale town I found some dramatic plantings adorning shops.

As in so much of the world, the beautiful private gardens here are behind walls.  Frustrating!  But I got to see a few private gardens, like the interior courtyard of my sister’s home, shown below.

From her hillside home I could see down into some pretty nice gardens, shown above and below.

These last photos hint at the splendor of the three villas where my niece’s wedding took place, and most of the guests stayed.  Though they’re humbly called “casas,” these 5-million-dollar estates are anything but.  They’re owned by Houston oil families.

To see what this high-altitude part of central Mexico might have looked like before it was developed, check my photos of its mostly-indigenous botanic garden.

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Susan Harris

Susan’s a garden writer, teacher and activist in the Washington, D.C. area. Co-founder of GardenRant, she also wrote for national gardening magazines and independent garden centers before retiring in 2014. Now she has time for these projects:

  • Founding and now managing the pro-science educational nonprofit GOOD GARDENING VIDEOS that finds and promotes the best videos on YouTube for teaching people to garden.
  • Creating and managing DC GARDENS, the nonprofit campaign to promote the public gardens of the Washington, D.C. area, and gardening by locals.
  • Creating and editing the community website GREENBELT ONLINE to serve her adopted hometown of Greenbelt, Maryland (a “New Deal Utopia” founded in 1937).
  • Also in Greenbelt, MD, writing the e-newsletter and serving on the Board of Directors for the cooperatively-owned music and arts venue and restaurant called the NEW DEAL CAFE.

Contact Susan via email or by leaving a comment here.

Photo by Stephen Brown.


  1. Dear lord, those are gorgeous!

    I love gardening in the Southeast, but I grew up in Arizona and occasionally I see this kinda thing and feel twinges.

  2. Lovely gardens in a lovely city. I remember being taken aback by those clipped trees when I visited San Miguel a number of years ago. Tightly clipped trees are largely viewed with scorn in the States. But obviously it’s a tradition there. The view from above is pretty cool.

  3. Absolutely lovely. One of the photographs, taken from your sister’s home, almost looks like a painting with the jolts of purple blooms, tiles and trio of spike-shaped trees. Especially breath-taking and unique for someone like me; an east coast amateur gardener, used to a completely different landscape. Love the contrasts of color and textures.

  4. I could garden in a dry tropical climate like that. I did garden in that kind of climate. But alas, in the leeward desert of Maui everyone wanted their tropical rainforest hotel knockoff gardens. Desert plants were practically taboo. I would have to dispense with the horrid bougainvillea though, if I ever am back in that kind of climate.

  5. Thank you, Susan, for the tropical garden fix! Your comment about many of them being hidden behind walls is so true and I’m really glad you had a birds-eye view to share with us. And, Christopher, the “horrid bougainvillea”? But it’s iconic in Mexico! I imagine it’s a thug in the garden but I’ll never have to worry about that in zone 5.

  6. These pictures are simply beautiful. The people in this town seem to take their creativity to another level and I think that’s amazing. For this reason I have taken note of this and it’s definitely on my list of places to visit.

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