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13 Jul 2018

Achillea (Compositae)

The name derives from that of the Greek hero Achille who is said to have employed the astringent qualities of the. filipendulina to treat its wounds. The genus includes perennial rustic plants for the garden or for the rock garden, typical of the temperate zones of the northern hemisphere; several species are alpine.

In the frame of this formal garden we notice in the foreground Achillea (Compositae)
In the frame of this formal garden we notice in the foreground Achillea (Compositae)

Cultivated species of Achillea:

A. filipendulina, syn. Achillea eupatorium (about 1.50 m), pinnate leaves, peeping flowers, yellow, gathered in dense flattened corymbs. There are various cultivars; Achillea millefolium, a yarrow (cm 30 – m 1), bipinnate leaves, flat corymbs with pink or white flowers, the type is common in pre-alpine pastures; the varieties grown for the garden have more showy flowers, also red, deriving from the rubra variety; A. ptarmica (60 cm), suitable for the northern regions, with linear-lanceolate leaves and white flower heads whose cultivars, with double flowers, are also widely used for cut flowers; Achillea ageratifolia, A. crysocoma, A. tomentosa and several others are used in rock gardens, especially in alpine type; they are all low, ground-covering, with yellow or white flowers.


the Achillea do not have particular needs of soil, provided it is permeable and well drained. While they mostly prefer slightly calcareous soils, they also adapt well to acid soils. Sunny position, partial shade in warm climates. The multiplication can be done by division in spring or autumn or by seed in spring.

09 May 2018

Anacyclus (Compositae)

The name of Anacyclus (Compositae) derives from the Greek anà «above» and kílos «circle», due to the fact that the fertile female flowers are arranged in a circle around the disc of the flower head. They are plants that form shrubs and can be used in rock gardens; the flowers remind those of chrysanthemums and chamomile.

Anacyclus depressus is a pretty little plant particularly suitable for the rock garden.
Anacyclus depressus is a pretty little plant particularly suitable for the rock garden.

Annual cultivated species:

A. radiatus, an upright, stiff plant, can reach 60 cm in height, has the typical flowering inflorescence with peripheral yellow ligulate flowers and brown hues on the dorsal part; it is spontaneous in Italy. The flowering lasts from May to August; Anacyclus officinarum, has white peripheral ligulate flowers and rarely exceeds 25 centimeters in height.

Perennial cultivated species:

A. atlanticus, a plant with a prostrate stem and white flowers, superiorly and purpureous, inferiorly, longidiurna, blooms in late spring or early summer; Anacyclus depressus, as the previous one has a stem lying on the ground, the flowers are white and crimson in the dorsal part; Anacyclus maroccanus, quite similar to Anacyclus depressus, but larger in size.


these plants require full sun exposure and sandy or gravelly soil. In the rock garden can also be placed on the rocks. The multiplication can take place by seed, sowing at the beginning of spring in a cold box, in full light, on well-drained soil.

Read also: Anacampseros (Portulacaceae)

08 May 2018

Anacampseros (Portulacaceae)

The name, derived from the Greek analMmpto «let me return» and éros «love», was attributed to this genus by Linnaeus (it existed since the time of Plutarch, who used it in the sense of plant used as a filter to reawaken love, for how much doubt it is that it was the same plant). They are small succulent South-African, with a diffused bearing, some with short, erect stems, other creeping ones; the flowers are proportionally large compared to the plant, some open only for a few hours in the afternoon, others do not open at all but produce seeds; many species have tuberous roots and some bulb-tubers.

Anacampseros (Portulacaceae)
Anacampseros (Portulacaceae)

Cultivated species of Anacampseros:

A. alstonii, with short flowers covered by small scaly leaves and thickly embryonic, very numerous, each of them carrying a white flower with a diameter of more than 1 cm; A. arachnoides, with small fleshy leaves, axillary hair and pink-violet flowers; Anacampseros baeseckii (about 5 cm), ramifying, with small fleshy leaves completely covered by dense white fur, red flowers margined in white; various types are known, some of them with more sparse and silky filaments; Anacampseros papyracea, with fudges covered with very small white leaves with flaky appearance, often prostrate and twisted; of slow growth, the flowers are very small and bear very few seeds. It requires less water than other species and is practically a rarity; A. rufescens, similar to Anacampseros arachnoides, so much so that Anacampseros arachnoides grandiflora is the horticultural term usually used as a synonym. The small fleshy leaves grow in spiral with axillary filaments, are green on the upper page and brownish-violet on the lower one, but in the sun the colors intensify and even the green becomes bronzed. Violet flowers open only in full sun, but the seeds are formed even if the flowers have not hatched due to lack of sunshine.


require very porous soil with sand, fragments of coal and crushed stone, full sun, moderate watering and almost suspended in winter, minimum winter temperature about 5 ° C. They reproduce easily from seed, which being minute must not be buried, and multiply for summer cuttings.

Read also: Ampelopsis (Vitaceae)

27 Apr 2018

Alstroemeria (Amaryllidaceae)

Name given in honor of Baron Clas Alstroemer, Swedish botanist and friend of Linnaeus. The genus includes tuberose of South America, especially Chile and Peru, rustic, which require the only shelter in case of strong frost. Very useful for the garden, have leaves of various shapes, erect flowering stems that bring flowers of various colors, long enough and can also be used cut.

Alstroemeria aurantiaca. Numerous horticultural varieties of this kind are very decorative for the garden; in them the color of the perigonium segments can take on the most diverse nuances.
Alstroemeria aurantiaca. Numerous horticultural varieties of this kind are very decorative for the garden; in them the color of the perigonium segments can take on the most diverse nuances.

Cultivated species of Alstroemeria:

A. aurantiaca, with orange flowers often streaked with red, var. lutea, yellow; Alstroemeria brasiliensis, one of the most rustic, with yellow and red flowers stained in brown; Alstroemeria chilensis, with red or pink flowers; Alstroemeria ligtu, with lilac or pink flowers streaked in violet; Alstroemeria pelegrina, with individual flowers, lilac streaked in violet, has a var. white, delicate and excellent for cold greenhouse; A. violacea, with large flowers of a brilliant lilac color. Many hybrids and cultivars have been taken from all these and other species.


the height of all species varies from 70 cm to one meter and makes them particularly suitable for borders and flowery crops; they are very sensitive to transplants and to any damage to the roots, therefore, if they are grown in pots, the utmost caution is necessary for placing them in a dwelling, to avoid damage to the ground bread and consequently to the root system. The same care must be taken in multiplication by the division of the tufts. The soil required must be humid, of vegetable origin; for these plants, the preferable position is the sun or sun in the cooler climates. Reproduction is by seed in autumn, under glass, with fresh seed, since it has no long germination period; the planting must be done with clod and without trying to divide the young plants.

Read also: Alpinia (Zingiberaceae)

23 Apr 2018

The garden as a place of peace

The desire of man to have a garden is as old as civilization and is so ingrained that the first signs are manifested since the beginning of the history of peoples in all parts of the world.

The very first source of tradition is the religious one, so the gardens are born as appendages of the temples. Every religion of antiquity has its mythical garden: the Jewish Garden of Eden, the Eridu of the Assyrians, the Ida-Vasha of Hinduism. Parallel to the religious origin was the development of an enclosed land to grow food, thus making the garden a link between the spiritual and physical needs of man. These terrestrial paradises, at the service of one or both aspects of the dual human nature, are found in the desert oasis garden, in the enclosed hunting parks created by the Assyrians and in the medieval monastic gardens with their herbaceous plants, the fish ponds, and flowers for the altar. The idea that inspires all these early gardens is expressed in the word of Arab-Hispanic origin Glorietta, the small private paradise. In any case, they express the idea of paradise as conceived by their creators.

Moghul garden Nishat Kashmir
Moghul garden Nishat Kashmir

The earliest known gardens are those of Egypt, and here, as is natural enough, the idea of paradise was centered on the fruitfulness of the oasis. Water, without which there could be neither flowers nor fruit nor the shadow of the trees, became the central theme of the garden, both for necessity and for symbolism, representing the river of life. From this theme of water as a source of fertility all the Asian irrigation gardens developed, including those Arabs, Persians and the Mogul gardens in northern India. His influence penetrated deep into the Western world, into classical eras through Greek and Roman conquests, into medieval Europe through the return of the Crusaders, and finally, in a purer form, entering Spain with the invading Moors.

The characteristics of its fundamental form are the logical result of its origin. The garden is fenced, to leave out the surrounding desert, it is formal and leveled, because its central feature is the water enclosed in a canal or in a rectangular basin.

On each side of the watercourse are the trees and flowers of the idealized oasis. This simple design developed and changed through the various countries, under the influence of the land and often the religion of its users. Waterfalls were created in the hills of Persia, and the water-filled canals became the four rivers of life in Muslim India. This tradition of the oasis merged in Asia with another that originated from a very different terrain, that of the wooded hills of Assyria.

Here, the idea that the king had of paradise was a hunting forest, more beautiful and richer in the game than any natural forest.
He was the true ancestor of the park, large in comparison to the garden-oasis – since there was no desert around it – and informal in treatment, since it was born from the natural fertility of the countryside instead of following the straight lines of irrigation. From these two sources – the irrigation of the desert and the idealization of the forest – the Persian garden was born, whose design has been handed down to us through the motifs of Persian carpets.

The irrigation structure takes the form of canals that represent the four rivers of paradise and form a cross in the middle. Often the garden is also surrounded by a wall-enclosed ditch. At the four corners are the fruits and flowers of the oasis and sometimes also a symbolic trace that recalls the largest forest of the Assyrians.

The Arabs, great masters of irrigation, adopted the same pattern that we still find in the garden of the Alhambra in southern Spain. In the same Persia, these paradise gardens had a great bloom even up to the sixteenth century, and it is possible, thanks to what has remained and the news reached to us, still, appreciate today the enormous impression that they left to all those who could see them. They were precious gardens for conception, almost of jewels. Often the water flowed on blue tiles and in the parterre between the intertwined canals, there were flower beds with carefully grouped flowers, or sometimes whole gardens of one type of flower. There were fruit trees, and there was a great use of the symbolic grouping of the eternal cypresses with the almond tree which renews its birth every spring. A variant of the Persian-oasis garden came in the five-hundreds to northern India, where it gave rise to one of the great world traditions in the creation of gardens. The Mogul emperors united a passionate love for the gardens to the desire of conquest. They created gardens in the lands they conquered, and because they were imbued with Persian culture and often married Persian women, their gardens were based on the theme of the four rivers of life. The Moguls were creators, not imitators, and the theme was adapted to the place and climate depending on the location where the gardens were made. In torrid Punjab, the waters of life expanded into broad, fresh expanses. In Kashmir, the beauty of the surrounding landscape made the garden no longer an oasis within a hostile world, but a gem in the heart of paradise. The gardens of Shalamar Nishat and Chasma Shahi, located around the shores of Dal Lake and against the backdrop of the amphitheater of the foothills of the Himalayas, must be considered among the most beautiful examples of gardens, which derive so much from man’s desires. as for the spirit of the surrounding landscape. These gardens, which were described by Villiers-Stuart in the Gardens of the Great Mughals, can still be visited. They have a place among the largest gardens in the world, are rooted in a more ancient tradition, but take on new form and vitality from the character of the country of adoption. Long before India collected the heritage of Persia, India itself had influenced the gardens of the Far Orient. Indian Buddhism reached China and from there, in the sixth century, arrived in Japan, bringing with it the idea of the Buddhist temple garden, with its hills, its lotus ponds and trees; an informal composition, in complete contrast with the straight channels and the oblong parterre of the irrigation garden. These temple gardens added their influence to the extraordinary tradition of Sino-Japanese garden.

Read also: The charm of water in the design of the garden and parks