The name of former general Alfonso Armada Comyn (1920-2013) will always be remembered for his participation in the failed coup of 23F for which the Supreme Court sentenced him to 30 years in prison but there is another place where he also Marquis de Rivadulla has left his mark. It is the Pazo de Santa Cruz de Rivadulla in the Coruna town of Vedra, the refuge to which he retired after being pardoned in 1988 and where his legacy remains unscathed.
In this week in which the 40th anniversary will once again put the media focus on the coup, LOC has wanted to visit this property one of the most fascinating botanical spaces in Galicia that, since he died in 2013 has passed into the hands of the greatest of his ten children Juan Armada Diez de Rivera by Royal Letter of Succession since 2015 also Marquis of Rivadulla, the tenth in his genealogy.
The pandemic has kept him physically away from the Pazo since October, but he continues to direct his designs and, in telephone contact with LOC, he proudly expands on the singularities that make Santa Cruz de Rivadulla a unique place in Galicia. Although he’s more than 200 varieties of camellias are his pretty girl he does not forget the olive, boxwood, Australian fern, Virginia tulip trees Washington palm tree, or his gigantic magnolias and is very aware that he enjoys 500-year-old honey history and, above all, of his father’s work in the four decades in which he was the owner and lord of the page.
My father was the pioneer in the twentieth century in the cultivation of camellias, he maintains and reveals that he was interested in the lady of flowers from a very young age, in the 40s and 50s in which Luis Armada de Los Rios Enriquez still held the marquisate Since he died in 1973, he inherited, he left a very important legacy.
Alfonso Armada modernized the pazo, with it he took the step from agriculture from the 19th to the 20th century and tried, by all means, to make the agricultural part productive. He succeeded. In these years, only the cheese factory he founded livestock, fruit and vineyard plantations, and the ornamental plant nursery that he promoted, the latter with growing prestige throughout Europe, has closed and still survive.
In any case, his main contribution, in addition to restoring the building, is the camellias. In February, one of the months of greatest splendor of the plant, you can appreciate the brightness that remains from those last 25 years in which it aged among the plants. He drank from tradition because in this garden there are specimens planted between 1789 and 1820, probably the oldest in Europe, but he knew how to revalue them and create a garden in which naturalized and feral coexist, a circumstance that according to Juan Armada, You can’t see it anywhere in Europe.
Its current conservation is a merit that he attributes to his father and downplays his contribution, although he acknowledges that his legacy so far has been to show his worth. An agronomist and curator of the Madrid Botanical Garden for 24 years, he inherited his father’s hobby and wanted to go one step further and open up the land that surrounds the Pazo to the public -the interior preserves its privacy. When I was younger no one visited the garden he acknowledges, and thanks to him, every day of the year visitors can enjoy pleasure for centuries reserved for distinguished guests such as Gaspar Melchor de Jovellanos who signed at the foot of his waterfall the Appendices to the Memory in defense of the Central Board.
At 75 and now retired, Juan Armada lives, like his father in his last 25 years of life, on the road between Madrid and Vedra. It usually happens at least one week a month and every summer. It is a family tradition that comes from the cradle and that in the summer season brings his entire family to the farm including his mother, Maria Francisca Diez de Rivera, usufructuary of the possession. They did not miss the last summer in which the pandemic gave a truce to infections.
In his absence, the day of what happens is maintained through the family that has loved and cared for the pazo for years. Through the telephone, you can perceive his caution against covid-19 and the penalty for not being able to enjoy one of the best times of the property, because in these months the highest point of the beauty of a garden is experienced singular in which essential tasks are not performed without your supervision.
Through his words, it is easy to imagine the last two Marquis of Rivadulla directing the pruning or enjoying the Paseo de Los Olivos, an avenue flanked by more than five hundred trees recognized with the AEMO award for the best monumental olive tree in Spain. Taking care of his camellias is for Juan, as it was for Alfonso Armada, an infinite pleasure but now it remains to be seen who will inherit his tradition and refuge. He has three children all will be heirs and, for now, has not entrusted their