Giardino di Ninfa
Ninfa has a double claim on this epithet, based on both its horticulture and on its setting in the landscape. Ninfa is the garden of the rose – planted throughout its 8 hectares, it has over 200 varieties and thousands of bushes. However, this reputation for rose-garden romance predates the planting of the garden. set within the crumbling remains of a medieval town, its juxtaposition with wild nature reclaiming the area and negating the puny works of man had great appeal for the romantic poets of the nineteenth century as they travelled through this classical landscape.
Visiting one April, we travelled on the Appian Way in Rome, passing the Colosseum and the Circus Maximus and heading towards Latina, crossing a flat, low-lying agriculture region, once a vast malaria-infested marshland. It is now intensively cultivated to supply the city with fruit and vegetables and is an important kiwifruit growing area. Ninfa is on the edge of the plain, nestled beneath the rugged stone cliffs of the Lepine Mountains where picturesque villages are perched on its peaks.
The undulating hillsides were ablaze with Judas trees in full flower. Regarded as large shrubs or small trees in Ireland, these were towering specimens, reaching to twenty metres in height and with the bare stems covered in cultures of pea-like flowers ranging from light pink to deep magenta. The blossoms originate directly from the branches or trunks as well as from the spurs of the previous season’s growth: a prime example of cauliflory.
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