Sunday, December 27, 2015

Il Giardino dei Simplici

Recently, we visited the Botanical Garden in  Florence, Italy - il giardino dei simplici. The simplici, simples in English (or in French for that matter), are the medicinal plants that were considered effective on their own. They do not have to be mixed with others to form a compound. The use of that name for the garden and the reference to medicinal plants suggest how old this garden is. In fact it was established on December 1st, 1545.

Nowadays there is still a large section given over to medicinal and culinary plants, but ornamental plants are also prominent. There were not many blooms at this time of the year. The most noticeable were some paperwhite daffodils (Narcissus papyraceus), the kind we force indoors, but which here have naturalized in the garden.



 On the left are pit greenhouses and on the right are orangeries with half the roof glazed and with large front windows to let in light.



At one end of the orangeries are plants that have been taken in for the winter to be kept above freezing.

The other end is kept warmer for tropical plants like this hibiscus (Malvaviscus arboreus) from Central America and the south-eastern U.S.

Some herbs are grown in pots raised on wooden supports, so you do not have to go down on your knees in order to look at them closely or to smell them, a very good idea, especially for herbs.


Some of the large terracotta urns are draped with roses, which must be quite attractive in summer. It is something you could try if you had such a large urn, but in Canada you would have to shelter the pot in the fall to make sure it does not freeze in winter.


A few roses were still blooming, including this variety called "Pompom de Paris".






The pots on each side of this alley hold rhododendrons. One was in bloom.
 



There are lots of cold frames where all the succulents and cacti have been stored over the winter.



One of the most interesting displays was in the greenhouse. There was a demonstration of perfumes extracted from plants. The perfumes were provided, together with the source plant or part of it. It  was interesting to see the plant or its part, and smell its essence. There were patchouli, myrrh, levant storax (a gum used in perfume), jojoba and others I have forgotten.


The most impressive plant was unfortunately not identified. Perhaps someone will be able to put a name to it. It was a climber covered in December with orange daisies as if it had been July.




A very attractive as well as interesting garden.



17 comments:

  1. Beautiful garden ! I hope you had a wonderful Christmas !

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    1. I hope you had a good Christmas too. The garden is beautiful and the display of perfumes from plants was fascinating.

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  2. I can't believe how much of interest there is at this time of the year ! It looks almost springlike with those Paperwhites out !

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    1. I was surprised to learn when I looked it up that paperwhites are actually a Mediterranean species of daffodils. I did not realized that some grew wild. I thought they all were the result of complex hybridization.

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  3. A beautiful city indeed. We stayed there once, but didn't come across the garden. Thanks for sharing it Alain....stunning and very interesting.

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    1. Glad you like it. Best wishes for the new year.

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  4. Good to hear from you again! And to be in Florence, must be nice! An incredibly beautiful and hiatoric city. Interesting garden you saw too. Take care.

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    1. It is extremely beautiful. I wish you the very best for 2016.

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  5. Gorgeous! Sadly, we didn't make it to this garden during our trip to Italy. I think it was closed on the day we tried to check it out, and then we headed out to Rome, Lucca, and Cinque Terre for the other days of our trip. Thanks for the info--if I ever make it back there, I'll add it to the itinerary. Interesting how Florence's climate allows Narcissus to bloom at the same time as the fall color. Beautiful photos, Alain!

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    1. Just now it is open only on Saturday mornings but it opens more often in summer. It is part of the University.

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  6. Am I correct in imagining a beautiful perfume coming from the paperwhite daffodils?
    Those herbs on stands wouldn't last long here with strong gales we've been having.

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    1. Paperwhites seem to naturalize well here. I saw some clumps growing on railroad embankments where no one could have planted them.

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  7. A wonderful and fascinating garden. We have never been to Italy, but if we ever get to Florence, I'm putting this at the top of the list of places to visit.

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    1. When you read the guidebooks, there seems to be few gardens in Florence. In fact there are a great many but unfortunately not all open.

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  8. My Paperwhites are flowering too, but mine are in the conservatory! It's good to hear from you again Alain, I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and i send you good wishes for 2016.

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