Earlier this year a new garden centre opened up near me. It is located out on the road towards Piriberbuy. It has recently been the scene of a gardening exhibition.

The garden centre itself is called Paseo las Palmeras and after several months of construction opened for customers earlier in the year.

It is by far the biggest garden centre in the local area. It is also the most modern. Before it’s arrival the only places to buy plants were nurseries. Although some of these were of a reasonable size none came with the amenities that one would expect to find in a garden centre.

Paseo las Palmeras has plants displayed in pots on top of raised beds for easy viewing and a large covered area to shelter shoppers and the more delicate plants. Additionally it contains a feature no location of it’s type could do without, a coffee shop. In places such as the UK relaxing in pleasant surroundings with a cup of coffee has become one of the principal reasons for visiting a garden centre.

I had previously visited some months ago and had been impressed with what I saw. The advertisement of a gardening exhibition seemed like the perfect reason for a second visit.

As he area around Piribebuy is a quite one outside holiday weekends it made little sense to have the exhibition running during the week when there would in all likelihood be few customers. Instead it was held over three consecutive weekends. I visited over the second weekend.

Holding an exhibition few months after opening was designed to help add the garden centre to the list of sights all visitors to Piribebuy should visit before the arrival of the summer season.

I parked in front of the main entrance on a sunny afternoon at set of to explore and discover.

The first sight that greeted me was rows and row of neatly laid out garden flowers and trees. All displayed in front of the main entrance waiting to be taken away to brighten up local gardens.

The central feature of this area is a large ornate fountain. Already this has become a popular location with photographers. Often one is to be seen using the fountain as a back drop for a fashion or wedding shoot.

The path from there leads up to the main entrance. That is watched over by a large and colourful wooden parrot.

Heading inside one is then in the main building of the garden centre. Fully covered over to keep out the elements. No different to how you would expect a European garden centre to be.

Within here is a large collection of plants. Mostly displayed on raised beds or benches and all clearly priced.

Before I looked round these however, and before I went to investigate the exhibition, I spotted something that was not there last time I visited. A large open door at the back of the building.

Heading through this I quickly found myself surrounded by hundreds of palm trees. There were a number of neatly plants lines heading off into the distance. Amongst these were colourful garden plants and scattered here and there seats for resting a while on.

This area had been put in place since my last visit. It still required the finishing touches. Workers were placing the last of the plants and finishing off a large water feature in the centre of this garden of palms.

It was all rather pleasant. A very smart and well laid out garden.

Once I felt I had visited every corner I headed back indoors to find the exhibition. Which was after all the reason for my trip.

This I discovered was quite small but in line with everything else, well laid out. No doubt if this year proves a success next year there will be more stalls.

As it was there were just three.

A table of wood carvings. Mostly masks in the traditional Paraguayan form plus a few native animals.

Next to that was another of hand crafted candles. These were the beeswax variety and appeared well made.

Then finally a collection of hand made liquors. These bottle held liquors flavoured with fruits and flowers as well as some flavoured with plants from the Paraguayan landscape.

The owner of this stall was certainly keen for visitors to try her wares. Despite pointing out that I would be driving home I soon found a small glass of fruit flavoured alcohol thrust into my hand. And then another. It wasn’t until after the fifth that she finally accepted that I did not what to just stand there drinking all afternoon. For the record the pineapple was smoother than the guava.

After the handicraft stalls by travels took me to the other section of the exhibition. Gardening talks.

From behind a table decked out with large dramatic flowers a talk on orchids was being given to all who wished to know how they should be be grown. I spotted that it was to be followed later by a talk on growing bonsai.

Having now seen and been impressed by all that the exhibition had to offer I turned my attention to the plants. I hoped to find one of two to take home with me.

Everything I looked at was green and healthy. All the plants in their individual pots looked well cared for and not the sort of things that would die shortly after being taken home. A number displayed large and brilliantly coloured flowers.

There were many exotic plants on offer and many like bromeliads which although unusual elsewhere are quite common in Paraguay.

I was seeking something that would be happy to live indoors and that I could get home undamaged in my backpack. So large delicate things like orchids were out of the question.

After investigating every possibility I managed to select a couple that for filled that criteria.

Out of all the possible exotic fauna I could have chosen I ended up with nothing more exotic than a potted palm and a Christmas cactus. Still I knew I those would arrive home in one piece.

Then having seen and done everything there was just one last thing required before I headed home.

A nice fresh cup of coffee.