There’s this no-profit organisation in my hometown, that in spring and in winter organizes some city tours, on the footsteps of the noble families that ruled our city over the centuries. We had been with them a few times already, always a pleasure and very interesting. At the beginning of april, the meeting point was at our local botanical garden, being this spring under the name of the Borbone.
The origins of the Parma Botanical Garden can be traced back to the year 1600.
Even before this time Parma had the “Giardino dei Semplici” (Garden of Simple) founded by Ranuccio I Farnese which formed part of Medical Department and used to grow healing herbs (hence the name simple indicating medicines from the plant kingdom).
The present Botanical Garden was created in the 1768 by the abbot Giambattista Guatteri, professor of botany, under the auspices of Ferdinando I of Borbone and was located in the city centre, covering the same area of 11000 square metres when established as it does today. The central part, in front of the greenhouses, preserves the Italian garden style of the eighteenth century project, even if the shape has been partially modified with the march of time. The wooded part, created between the XVIII and the XIX century, remains in the east of the Garden, whilst the western part has been rebuilt according to the British garden style.
Above, the “V” that stands for violet, the typical Parma flower, the most loved by Marie Louise, Duchess of Parma, still today lovingly remembered (we are celebrating her bicentenary right now with lots of events).
In the last years a reorganization and an enrichment of the collections has been started, and the flowerbeds and the border have been fixed. Precious herbariua kept at the Garden include that of Giambattista Guatteri, Giorgio Jan and Giovanni Passerini which also has some working tools; an ancient herbarium of healing herbs which was the property of the botanic doctor G. B. Casapini (1722); the herbarium of the countess Albertina Sanvitale with her autograph hints (1828 – 1830) and the herbarium of Luigi Gardoni (1836 – 1878) composed of 274 boxes containing a diverse mix of local and exotic species.
Above, my daughter, the pro photographer….
The Botanical Garden’s main goal is to preserve biodiversity both “in situ” as well as “ex situ”. Other than the main institutional activities, the chief strands of activity are:
- scientific research mainly related to environmental subjects;
- environmental education;
- scientific cooperation with local bodies.
The garden contains aquatic plants including Acorus calamus, Butomus umbellatus, Caltha palustris, Cyperus papyrus, Eichhornia crassipes, Elodea canadensis, Iris pseudacorus, Lemna minor,Nymphaea alba, Pistia stratiotes, and Sagittaria sagittaefolia, as well as mature trees including ginkgo, magnolia, Pinus nigra subsp. laricio, and Ulmus campestris. Its glass houses contain a tropical section with Dracaena fragrans, Ficus elastica, F. benjamina, Monstera deliciosa, Tamarindus indica, Theobroma cacao, etc., as well as epiphytes, orchids, and tropical fruits; and a desert house containing a variety of cacti and succulents.
It was such a nice morning, the weather not so good, but our guide was so kind and so ready to answer all of our questions….absolutely a great experience.