Mediterranean Garden Hanbury

On a recent buying trip in Europe we had the luck to visit the Giardini Botanici Hanbury near Ventimiglia in Italy. These fabulous gardens are a must-see for anyone interested in Mediterranean gardens. These fabulous Mediterranean gardens are located along the Italian Ligurian Coast right at the border with Monaco and the French Mediterranean Coast. Parking is along a busy road with Italian-style traffic so watch yourself when you cross the road. The lush Hanbury Botanical Garden is one of the finest examples of Mediterranean gardening. The perfect Mediterranean climate allows for a huge variety of Agaves, Cacti, Citrus Trees, Succulents, Palm Trees, Yuccas, etc. The winding steps lead to the ocean where there is a sea-side cafe which looks like it could be swept into the ocean is that close.

It was a love of nature (and without question the gently Mediterranean climate) that lead an English family to create a botanical garden near Ventimiglia beginning in 1867, in order to acclimatize plants from many different climatic zones of the world which would benefit from the favorable position and in particular the mild climate of what was to become the Hanbury Botanical Gardens.

The Hanbury Botanical Garden was established by Sir Thomas Hanbury on a small, steep peninsula jutting southwards from an altitude of 103 meters down into the Ligurian Sea. He purchased the extant Palazzo Orengo property in 1867, and over decades created the garden with the aid of pharmacologist Daniel Hanbury (his brother), the botanist and landscape designer Ludwig Winter and scientists including Gustav Cronemayer, Kurt Dinter, and Alwin Berger. By 1883 the garden's Index seminum contained about 600 species, which had grown to 3,500 species in the 1889 catalog, and 5,800 species by the 1912 version. Sir Thomas Hanbury died in 1907, but energetic plantings and improvements resumed after World War I under the direction of his daughter-in-law Lady Dorothy Hanbury.

Unfortunately, the gardens were severely damaged in World War II, when they became a no-man's land, and in 1960 Lady Hanbury sold them to the State of Italy. Initially its care was entrusted to the International Institute of Ligurian Studies, but when they withdraw for lack of adequate funds in 1983, responsibility was passed to the University of Genoa. Restoration has been gradually proceeding since 1987, and it was declared a nature preserve in 2000. Today, 9 of the Hanbury Garden's 18 hectares are under cultivation again. Major collections include agaves, aloes, and salvia, as well as fine old specimens of Araucaria cunninghamii (planted 1832), Casimiroa edulis (1867), olive trees, Olmediella betschleriana, and Pinus canariensis (1870). An orchard of rare fruits includes Actinidia, Carica, Diospyros, Eugenia, Feijoa, Fortunella, Macadamia, Mespilus, and Persea. Additional collections feature palms, succulents, Australian trees, citrus, and cultivated flowers. Of particular interest are the Aphyllantes monspeliensis, Beaucarnea recurvata, Beaucarnea stricta, Caesalpinia sepiaria, Chiranthodendron pentadactylon, Chrysanthemum discoideum, Coronilla juncea, Cupressus guadalupensis, Cupressus lusitanica, Eucalyptus citriodora, Eucalyptus sideroxylon, Eucalyptus microcorys, Mandevilla laxa, Passiflora bryonioides, Passiflora amethistina, Passiflora edulis, Senecio deltoideus, Sollya heterophylla, Thunbergia grandiflora, Thunbergia coccinea, Thunbergia mysorensis, Wigandia urens, and Yucca australis.

The contribution of botanists, agronomists and landscape designers, the majority of whom were foreigners, led to the creation of a magnificent ensemble both in its botanical aspect (5,800 ornamental, medicinal and fruiting species) and its landscaping aspect, creating a harmony between buildings, garden structures and the terraces under cultivation, which is unequaled in Europe.

Giardini Botanici Hanbury
Corso Montecarlo, 42
18039 Ventimiglia IM

Image and text credit: Partial text credit: wikipedia.