Edward was born into a very privileged, aristocratic life in England. An eccentric outsider, he befriended the likes of Dali, Picasso, Magritte, Stravinsky and one of our favorite filmmakers, Luis Bunuel. He later retreated to the jungles of Mexico where he would spend the next 20 or so years building one of the biggest and least known artistic monuments of the 20th century.
The design of Las Pozas was inspired by the orchids Edward grew and the vegetation of the Huastecan jungle along with the Surrealist movement he was so closely involved with. In 1962, a once in a lifetime frost killed thousands of his prized orchids, inspiring him to "build a city of flowers four stories high that no frost could ever kill". He spent millions of dollars creating his "Surrealist Xanadu", eventually leaving it to his friend and guide, Plutarco Gastelum.
The gardens are owned and preserved today by Fondo Xilitla. It has always been a dream of ours to visit and stay at El Castillo, his former home.
The documentary, Builder of Dreams, is fantastic and includes footage of Edward James and his reflections on a truly fascinating and eccentric life. This article is a must read as well.