Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Boboli and the need to control

The Boboli Garden, probably the best known garden in Florence, reminds us that our tendency to associate  gardens with flowers is a relatively new. Before the nineteenth century, gardening was mostly about putting order in nature, according to classical notions of the ideal landscape. For us nature is at its best when left alone; for them it was at its best when completely under control.  It is an approach that does produce beautiful spaces as shown in the Boboli  but, in the end, our need for total control of nature might be our downfall.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Terracotta pots

What is more quintessential to the Italian garden than the terracotta pot? The problem with terracotta is, of course, that a solid frost will break the pot. Dropping it will have the same effect. What I found particularly interesting in the Giardino dei simplici was to see how these pots are maintained and repaired.

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.