Cesar Manrique was well known for his projects based around the natural form and history of Lanzarote, and the Jardin de Cactus is his monument to this range of plants that thrive so well in their natural state on the island. Manrique also chose to position the Garden in the town of Guatiza, which is in an area surrounded by cactus fields that were traditionally used to cultivate the cochineal beetle for their red dye. The harvesting of cochineal was once big business on Lanzarote, before the advent of more modern aniline dyes.

The cactus garden is laid out within a pit in the ground that dates back to 1850. The farmers at that time excavated the pit for its volcanic stone that was then taken to the growing fields, where it was used to prevent crops and their roots from drying out. There are now nearly 10,000 cactus plants within the garden, and over 1,400 species of cactus are represented. Many have been imported from America and Mexico, as well as Madagascar and other Canary islands. The planted gardens are interspersed with walkways, there is a cafe/bar serving light refreshments, and a souvenir shop.

The original mill of Guatiza overlooks the garden, and forms part of the visitor experience. You can climb up inside the building itself, which enjoys high and spectacular views across the surrounding countryside and cactus fields of Mala.