Ph. Eleonora Diana con Marco Ranocchio
The Hanbury Gardens are to be certainly included among the not-to-be-missed destinations in Italy.
Just entering is a surprise: a small entrance almost unnoticed from the road. Then, as soon as you approach the gate, the sight becomes amazing: the sea stands out immensely, down there. Yes, precisely down there, because the gardens are on the Mortola promontory, in Liguria.
The visit mainly consists of a long descent towards the sea, walking among agaves, aloes, roses, citrus, Brugmansia, bamboo, succulent species, jasmine and eucalyptus, dahlias and Euphorbia, iris and lavender, hakee, plum and Melaleuca, sages and sorbs, blue mist flowers and violets, camellias and rockrose, geraniums and passion flowers, and much more.
The British and the exotic beauties
It was 1867 when the English nobleman Sir Thomas Hanbury, who had become rich trading silk, spices and tea with China, during a stay in the Riviera for medical treatment decided to buy the estate with the palace by then in ruins. This is how he gave shape to his dream of creating a garden of acclimatisation. An erratic idea, already present in the speeches and projects of the two Hanbury brothers, which, however, was not only a private dream, but a “trend” shared by the English culture of the time.
As a matter of fact the “Subtropical movement” was emerging among English plantmen: in the second half of the nineteenth century, they studied propagation techniques and cultivation of tropical and subtropical plants to find ways to let them survive in the unfavourable climate, albeit always in outdoor gardens.
At the same time the Riviera di Ponente was being discovered and occupied by the British tourists.
The love for this place, considered beneficial for health, a beautiful landscape for otium, where magically exotic gardens can be shaped, was born above all following the publication of the novel “Il Dottor Antonio” by Giacomo Ruffini. This was not the first case, nor the last, when a novel allows us to rediscover a place: consider for example the Tuscan town of Cortona (documentary: > see the documentary “Genius of a place”).
The mild Ligurian climate, so different from the motherland’s one, had given the necessary space to the English noblemen to cultivate in their gardens all those exotic and fascinating botanical species that hardly took root in England.
Each month has its blooms – we invite you to browse the official site.
In October, for example, among the different blooms, Brugmansia, Abelia, Salvia and Clerodendron deserve special attention.
The gardens, with their continuous flourishing, are a place of perfect happiness, as indicated by the Chines ideogram “Fô” (meaning exactly happiness), which was inscribed at the entrance to the garden after the visit of Kuo Sung Tao, the Chinese ambassador to England, in 1879.
This is how the Hanbury gardens seem to realise the medieval dream of a magical garden of delights, where it is always “spring”.
A unique place to see again and again, in different seasons, following different paths.
You cannot get lost because, in the end, all roads lead to the sea.
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