New Photos-Drainage and Landscaping of St. Catalina Convent

11 01 2009

So I have sinus infection and extra time to write about the drainage and landscaping at a convent in Arequipa. The convent was for nuns from wealthy families and they enjoyed large individual rooms within a larger complex that has not only great landscaping, but also a very advanced and ´progressive´ drainage system.

Drainage to flow through planter, from the 1700s!!

Drainage to flow through planter, from the 1700s!!

1700s flow control!!

1700s flow control!!

The courtyards have fruit trees such as fig, citrus, avocado, and what appears to be plum, in addition to rubber trees and decoratives like trailing lantana, honeysuckle, nasturtium, geranium, cedar, Norfolk island pine (?) and others.

The convent is made of Sillar, a pyroclastic rock from the adjacent volcano (El Misty). Sillar is a light stone that is porous and easy to shape, similar to pumis, but stronger and a little heavier. They even made elevated basins of sillar stone, in which the water percolates through and drips into a basin below, providing a type of water purification system.

Outflow from planter (with rubber tree)

Outflow from planter (with rubber tree)

The easily shaped stone is used to create a complex system of drainage channels that are covered by large flagstones in areas of high foot traffic and within the buildings, but surface in the court yards to feed into flow through planters. The water drains into the planters and water nasturtiums, geraniums, fruit and rubber trees.

They even have outflows for when the planters become over-saturated or overflow. This drainage system also includes a trough with various basins along it´s slope. You can divert the water by blocking the canal below the overflow for your basin, in order to fill the basin to do laundry. The series of basins could then be used to soap and then rinse the laundry in a serious of basins.

Scotch broom?

Scotch broom?

The wealthy nuns had individuals quarters, each with it´s own cloister, and an open air kitchen with plants in the middle. The plants ranged from figs, to cedars, and (sorry Celia) one even appeared to have a variety of scotch broom in it.

Drainage inflow to planter

Drainage inflow to planter

Garden in convent

Garden in convent

Norfolk Island Pine (?)

Norfolk Island Pine (?)


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3 responses

12 01 2009
Mike Burke

Very informative, will have to look at atlas to see where this is at. Celia shuddered at the sight of the scot’s broom. Very nice looking garden!
Appreciated the timely updates on where you have been.

Celia & Mike

12 01 2009
Christine Young

I love what you have shared ! The laundry system is very interesting – the basins remin me of flow forms, a series of basins that are linked so that water flows from one to the next but first circulating within a basin in a lemniscate (figure eight) before exiting any one basin.

12 01 2009
Grandad

Thank you for the description of the water flow and drainage. Thake care of your sinus infection. You will need clearness as you change elevation. Love, Grammy and Grandad

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