Friday, September 17, 2010

GBBD September 2010 - Medici Blooms




I was abroad on business on Bloom Day but arrived back just in time to go with the Med Garden Soc to visit the newly restored gardens at two Medici Villas near Florence. So here are some of the Medicis' blooms and of course their famous citrus trees. The photos here are from the gardens at Villa Castello where Paolo Galeotti, Curator, kindly showed us round; over the past 30 years he has worked to restore the gardens in accordance with records of how they were first created in 1480 and then tracked down plants in the area which are the same as the original ones that the Medici would have planted. The lawns in spring are a riot of flowers and they say were the inspiration for Botticelli's Rite of Spring which was painted near here. I must go back in March to see for myself. There are around 500 citrus trees in terracotta pots, some of which date back to the Medicis themselves and carry their coat of arms. Even the trees are very old: several are over 300 years old and the ones considered 'young' are mostly over 200 years. They all have to be brought indoors in the winter and there is a special house or 'limonaia' to accomodate them. Some of the pots are very big - up to 2m (6ft 6in) diameter and it takes a team of gardeners with special equipment for this task alone. The citrus are repotted every 10 years or so and this is also a huge job carried out by mobile crane. Watering the pots is done indivually - no automatic systems - and the gardeners tap each pot and listen - if it 'rings' then the soil is dry and needs water. But not just citrus here: blooming at the moment are Salvia, Nerine, Perovskia, Plumbago and the original Jasmine Sambac brought back from the Orient for the Medicis in the early 18th century, which has an almost overpowering scent.
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4 comments:

marĂ­a cecilia said...

Cara Ivonne, such a wonderful history behind this beautiful ancient garden, amazing one!!! And Boticelli being inspired there..?
You have great opportunities of visiting old gardens where you live all around Europe, this is so interesting.
Ciao cara mia
maria cecilia

Elephant's Eye said...

Tapping a pot, to 'hear' if it is thirsty sounds like a good idea. Would need to be terracotta of course ...

Alice Joyce said...

Yvonne
I'm sooo envious. What fantastic garden visits.
At least I'm able to visit virtually through your blog.
Cheers!
Alice
(Still following your posts on Blotanical:-)

Christina said...

I'm so glad you enjoyed your visit. That La Primavera by Boticceli was plainted to hang at Castello, I knew, that he'd been inspired by the garden I didn't know. The main design for the garden was the mid 1500's making it one of the very first Mannerists gardens. It would be wonderful if they could restore the origional fountains.