Q&A with Victor Gonzalez, OUR EXPERT Gardener

Originally from Granada, Victor Gonzalez came to Ibiza at a young age. Arriving with nothing but a backpack full of hopes and dreams, he worked in various spheres before stumbling across the world of gardening. But it was in tending flowers and plants that he found his true calling, not to mention personal solace, a sense of which can be felt as you wander among the 56,000 metres squared of beautifully tended gardens at 7Pines Kempinski Ibiza. Here he discusses how he realised that gardening has always been a part of his life, the way some plants are more temperamental than others, and how’s he’s passing his skills to the next generation of gardeners.

Tell us a bit about your history – how did you end up working as a gardener in Ibiza?
In truth, when I first came to Ibiza it wasn’t easy, but there are a lot of job opportunities on the island and I worked hard in various places before reaching the world of gardening. Although I only started working in gardening later in life, the vocation had always been there since I was a child – our house was full of plants when I was a kid and I grew up watching my parents caring for them and giving them love. Now I have a daughter and, as my parents did with me, I am trying to teach her from a young age to love and respect nature.

What was it about working with plants that stimulated your interest?
Before touching plants, you must know them very well, as every single one is different and needs specific care.

How did you hone your craft?
I have always been an autodidact, so I learned a lot by studying and reading books about plants, landscaping and gardening. But I must admit that I have also been lucky enough to meet great professionals from whom I learnt a lot.

How important are the gardens in setting the atmosphere at 7Pines Kempinski Ibiza?
When you walk around our gardens, the plants stimulate all the senses, so much so that often our guests can’t help but touch the plants! From lavender, which captivates the sense of smell, to gorgeous, colourful plants that appeal to sight, and fruit trees such as fig, olive and pomegranate – our gardens are a very tactile experience.

Can you talk us through some of the primary plants you work with?
We currently have more than 50,000 shrubbery plants and hundreds of trees –we have eight different kind of palm trees alone. Our plants and trees come from all over the globe but mostly from the Mediterranean region.

Do you have a soft spot for any?
My favourite is the Nerium Oleander (Adelfa). It is a very appreciative plant with a very intense and long-lasting bloom.

What plants are there that are indigenous to Ibiza and what are their characteristics?
The conifers, so pine and juniper. They have been present on the island for more than 7,000 years – that’s why the Greeks called Ibiza and Formentera the Pitiusas Islands, or pine islands. Some of the pine trees within the resort have atypical shapes and it is impossible not to stop for a moment and admire them.

What’s the key to maintaining such a vast section of garden?
With so much space to cover combined with the high expectations of our guests, it is crucial to have a dedicated team. We’re a team of eight and each one of us is passionately dedicated to maintaining the gardens in a perfect state. Plants require a lot of care and there is always one species that requires a specific care at a definite moment of the season, so we are never too many, nor out of things to do!

Do you get compliments from guests on the gardens?
Although Ibiza holds a rich flora and a lush nature, it is not common to find an establishment offering so much space and greenery. I think our guests really appreciate this aspect of the resort and we often get people asking us questions about the plants that can be found within our gardens. To me it is very rewarding to see that people recognise and care about the effort we put into our work every day.

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