|Gibraltar Botanic Gardens
The Dell in the heart of La Alameda Gardens
|Area||6 hectares (15 acres)|
|Owned by||Government of Gibraltar|
|Operated by||Wildlife (Gibraltar) Limited|
|Status||Open all year|
|Plants||Aloes, palms, dragon trees, sunken garden[disambiguation needed]|
|Director||Dr. Keith Bensusan|
In 1816 the gardens were commissioned by the British Governor of Gibraltar General George Don. It was his intention that the soldiers stationed in the fortress would have a pleasant recreational area to enjoy when off duty.
In the Second World War the gardens were a popular meeting place for the thousands of homosexual soldiers and sailors that passed through Gibraltar on their way to the various fronts. In the later years of the war the Military Police regularly raided the gardens to enforce the ban on homosexuality in the British and American armed forces and Merchant Navy.
The gardens were resurrected in 1991 by an external company when it was realised that since the 1970s they had fallen into a poor state. Three years later the gardens had the addition of a zoo: the Alameda Wildlife Conservation Park.
In 2001 a bronze sculpture of James Joyce's Molly Bloom was installed in the gardens. This running figure was commissioned from Jon Searle to celebrate the bicentenary of the Gibraltar Chronicle in 2001.
General Don had commissioned a memorial of George Augustus Eliott, 1st Baron Heathfield in 1815, which did not materialise in the form initially requested. A colossal statue of General Eliot, carved from the bowsprit of the Spanish ship San Juan Nepomuceno, taken at the Battle of Trafalgar was first created. That statue was taken to the Governor's residence, The Convent, where it stands today, being replaced by the present bronze bust in 1858. This statue is guarded for four 18th century howitzers.
The plants of the Alameda Gardens are a combination of native species and others brought in from abroad:
Castle and key set in the lawn of The Dell.
British-style red telephone box.
Duke of Wellington's memorial.
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