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Hanbury's hidden haven

by Marcello Parmeggiani last modified 2008-06-20 15:10

Garden enthusiasts and budding botanists should head for Ventimiglia, just before the French Riviera for an amazingly overgrown garden teeming with tropical plants and handed down to us by a genuine English lord.

Hanbury's hidden havenWhen Sir Thomas Hanbury moored his yacht off Cape Mortola back in 1867, little did he think that he was forging his name indelibly to this secluded headland between Italy and France. Hanbury, on holiday from his travels in the East as a tea and silk merchant, fell in love with the area and gradually bought the 18 hectares which would become one of Italy's most popular botanical gardens.

However don't come to Hanbury Gardens looking for rows of pristine flowers and decoratively clipped trees. The Gardens' charm lies in their ostensibly tumbledown appearance with the plants blossoming as they would in their natural habitats.
When Sir Thomas died in 1907 the Gardens were donated to Genoa University. The Gardens are still managed by the University while the Friends of Hanbury Gardens organise a packed series of events in and around the gardens throughout the year.

Hanbury Gardens are open all year round. Visiting hours vary according to season: Winter - 10 to 16 up until March 31st; Spring/Autumn - 10 to 17; Summer 10 to 18. Apart from Summer (June through September) the Gardens are closed on Wednesdays. For booking and information phone: +39-0184-229507. An hourly bus service makes the 15-minute journey from Ventimiglia to La Mortola.

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