How a limestone quarry was turned into a lush garden for weddings and events
Located on the outskirts of Siggiewi, the Limestone Heritage is a truly unique venue. Back in the 90s, the idea to transform a disused quarry into a sunken garden was ingenious and today the area houses two venues - The Limestone Heritage, a fully equipped tourist attraction for visitors interested in the local history of quarrying and stonework and The Waterfall Garden, a green and lush open space with a waterfall and a marquee. A versatile venue for Weddings and Events. The Baldacchino family own and run the venue with dedication and passion. The father, Manuel, had learnt the skills of a quarryman from his father, a trade that had been passed on from previous generations. On top of working in the quarry, Manuel started to carry out conversions of old Maltese farmhouses. He thought it was “a good idea to blend both skills into an educational experience”. So in 2002, the tourist attraction, fully developed to include parking and a cafeteria, opened its doors to visitors. Manuel had always envisaged the potential to add further value to the area. He had planned to utilise the open spaces in a sustainable way and create a venue for weddings and events. A foresight that today is very much a beautiful and green reality.
The next milestone for Manuel was the creation of the Waterfall, which naturally prompted the name of the second venue - The Waterfall Garden. This evolution followed years of upgrading and landscaping work. The water stream in the 30-foot waterfall and the cascading fountains is recycled from an underground reservoir collected during the winter months. Gardening though, is more of a time of relaxation for Manuel, yet his love for nature does not go unnoticed when walking through the gardens he helps preserve. The maintenance and upkeep of a large venue whilst greeting guests all year round is hard work. Manuel tells us that for a family to run a successful business, passion requires a daily commitment from each and every member of the family. He admits that being able to discuss business during family dinners helps them be more efficient in decision making as such decisions are taken in a relaxed and convivial atmosphere.
Malta’s mild climate in winter, the relatively dry spring and the moist sea air in summer and autumn help gardeners grow a larger diversity of plants. This variety can be seen in the range of trees, plants, flowers and herbs that grow at The Waterfall Garden. Including an array of trees endemic to Malta and the Mediterranean; Carob, Citrus, Bay Laurel, Date, and Pomegranate as well as the “Gharghar”, Malta’s national tree, are permanent residents at the venue. The Pecan tree, located on the lawn, is a prominent feature, as it sits beautifully in the middle, discreetly concaved by other plants to create the ideal spot for a civil ceremony or an intimate lunch in the outdoors. The venue is an explosion of colour in the spring and summer months. One could not help notice the geranium, African daisy, birds of paradise and carnations enhanced by Plumbago.and Bougainvillea, a favourite plant for many locals. When one walks past the herb garden it is inevitable to miss the heady aromas of fresh Rosemary, Basil and Mint.
What we appreciate the most, and applaud Manuel, Anne-Marie, Julian and Eve for, is the way in which the transformation, over the years, was accomplished in harmony with its environment together with a profound sense of sustainability. The olives from their trees are harvested and pressed for olive oil. Lemon trees are plentiful and thus “Limoncello” is another product produced on site, this process is demonstrated during the tours. Nothing goes to waste; all the citrus is used for freshly squeezed juices, and pecans are used for homemade cakes and carob is turned into syrup, all homemade and served in the venue’s cafeteria.
It is at the peak of spring when we call Manuel to catch up with him about the latest happenings at the Waterfall Gardens. “I’ve been keeping very busy” he tells us “It’s a wonderful time, the real start of the summer weather and the plants know it”, but he quickly points out that having installed the latest irrigation systems ensures that the flowers at the Waterfall Garden bloom all year round. It is no wonder that the Waterfall Garden today is a much sought-after venue by locals and foreigners alike. The family’s dedication and passion is admirable and humbling at the same time and the success of the venue is testimony to this.
Find out more about the Limestone Heritage and The Waterfall Garden here limestoneheritage.com