Ibiza’s unique botanical garden is bringing together cutting edge biotechnology and plants as part of an ambitious plan to preserve and promote our local ecology and, ultimately, to protect life on our planet.
Often it feels to us as if Ibiza breathes music through its very pores. Its plants wouldn’t speak. They’d sing. Yeah, okay we do probably get overly romantic about the little island we call home. Or so we thought. It turns out our plants can produce their own sound and light which can be combined into a unique form of piano. You can find and even play this unusual instrument in the centre of the island, close to San Rafael on the main road from Ibiza to San Antonio.
Since the first signpost appeared not long before the pandemic began you may even have driven past and wondered, what the hell is the Botánico Biotecnológico? Now you know. It’s the most technologically advanced botanical gardens in Europe and it’s very much open to visitors. And, it’s adopted the rather more funky moniker, ‘Bibo Park’.
The world’s first vegetable piano was an early attraction. It works, according to its inventor, Pablo Vidarte, by using plants as biological antennae. ‘They are able to detect changes in frequency, turning them into a voltage. As they are conductive it circulates through their entire organism,’ he says. ‘This is how we use this difference in electric potential to activate the system generating light and sound.’ It’s perhaps easier to be wowed by seeing and hearing the piano rather than trying to understand how it works in theory. (Okay, we admit to being confused.)
Although the piano is fun, the technology on which it is based is being put to more obvious practical use this summer in the form of a biological battery which will soon be capable of charging mobile phones and powering other devices. Elsewhere in the park you can see, and drink, water that has been taken straight from the sky, untouched by pipes. Or you can see how CO2 can be removed from the nearby main road using microalgae that can then be turned into fertiliser.
This combination of cutting edge biotechnology and plants does not exist in any other botanical gardens. There are now some 30,000 plants on the site. Some of these are rare or even extinct in the Pitiusas islands of Ibiza and Formentera. Otheres a just interesting. A new area is filled with aromatic, medicinal plants typical of the islands. Elsewhere, ‘Plato’s Corner’ offers a place to reflect and relax under pine trees with the sound of a waterfall. The next plan is to recreate a palm grove complete with an integrated oasis along with a seed bank and plant laboratory.
Bibo Park also offers an answer to that oft-asked question from parents in Ibiza, ‘What shall we do with the kids?’ As well as seed-planting and cuttings activities, there are plans for musical appreciation workshops run by conductor Juan Ballesteros. There’ll also be opportunities to look at the wonderful world of bees and honey, bonsai gardening and dance courses.
Ibiza Botanic Park is open every day from 10am to 8pm except Sundays when the opening times are 10am to 230pm and Mondays when the park is closed