The Exotic Garden of Monaco has managed to stay unique in its genre since it opened to the public in 1933. It brings together a wide variety of plants known as ‘succulents’ in outstanding open-air surroundings.
Succulent plants are ones that have adapted to dry climates in various ways, the most spectacular being the possession of a hypertrophied organ (leaf or stem) to stock water reserves. Cacti (or cactus) make up the most representative family of this group. They stand out by their absence of leaves, replaced by thorns.
The plants acclimatized in this garden come from various far-away dry zones (hence the term ‘exotic’): the South-West of the United-States; Mexico; Central and South America for cacti and agaves; South Africa; Eastern Arabia and the Arabian Peninsula for the other succulents. In spite of their extravagant shapes, they are plants in their own right, regularly producing flowers in order to reproduce.
The flowering period is spread over practically the whole year depending on the place of origin of each species: winter for Aloes and African Crassula, spring and summer for most cacti. Contrary to a widely held view, only a small number of cacti flower at night. A great many produce big, colourful, diurnal flowers.