The gardens of Ninfa, in the province of Latina, is said to be the most beautiful and romantic gardens in Italy and possibly the world. The gardens contains ancient ruins from the classical times of ancient Rome, known as Ninfa which gives its name to the area. It is also connected to nymphs which according to myth lived within this expanse of land in nearby springs, rivers, trees, mountains and valleys, there was also a temple built here that was sacred to the nymphs. In modern times medieval ruins from the 11-12th century are still visible throughout the gardens containing a castle, church of Santa Maria Maggiore, cottages, mills, a town hall and towers. With a multitude of lovely flowers, plants & trees that grow amongst the old ruins with breathtaking scenery, and moss covering many of the ancient buildings & archways followed by roses, arum lilies, jasmine as well as tropical and native species. The gardens of Ninfa covers an area of 150 hectares and is a natural monument of Italy with approximately 152 bird species which was constructed from 1921 by Gelasio Caetani, (one of five sons of Onorato Caetani the 14th duke of Sermoneta) and with the help of his mother Ada Bootle- Wilbrahaan a lady from England who introduced English roses to the grounds, as well as his brother Roffredo.
Gelasio on his travels also brought many different plant species with him and planted them in the gardens including a large variety of roses, (climbing, musk roses, bushes & hybrids), numerous trees such as cedar, birch, Japanese maples, walnut, apple & smoke tree (coggygria) as well as flowering plants such as catalpa, magnolia, and yucca. The garden consists of small springs and also a river known as the river Ninfa to the south with water iris and along the bank clusters of hazelnut, silver maple and American tulip trees. A borgo or medieval moat & draw bridge has many water birds such as ducks & swans and masses of Arum lilies that surround the moat, with the ruins of the castle from the 12th century and magnolia stellata trailing around it at the entrance and a courtyard with trees and grapefruit. The main pathway has lavender plants and a wide range of trees that include cypress trees, cherry trees, Mexican pine, banana and Himalayan pine which adds colour & beauty to the surroundings with the wide range of oranges purples & reds combined with the green shades of the lawn. There is also a cluster of bamboo in one area of the gardens and a rock garden with flowering plants consisting of California poppies, veronica, a climbing clematis armandii and hydrangea, bright yellow flowers of Aurinia saxatillis, granny’s bonnet (aguilegia) among others.
Pelargonium nephrophyllum has delicate pastel pink to salmon pink flowers and peachy red lines and blotches, with two larger upper petals and three smaller lower petals containing 5 stamens with orange pollen and long pink anthers, the flowers usually come up before new growth appears after being dormant in Summer. It has unusual kidney shaded leaves with scalloped leaf margins & a turnip shaped tuber which can grow to approximately 2 cm and grows during the winter which is native to Southern Namaqualand, South Africa in sandy shrub land areas, stony reddish pink soil or in between hills. This plant was given its name in 1992 by Elizabeth M, Marais and is of the Hoarea section also its national status is endangered.
The very essence of Mediterranean garden style not only creates spectacular surroundings with its classical warm colours of pale beige, deep browns, bright yellows, reds, terra cotta, yellowy pinks and bluely greens included within the combination of trees, shrubs, succulents and cacti which can portray any garden style using plants such as the olive tree, pomegranate , lavender, bay tree, rosemary, eucalyptus, citrus and yucca which can be used as herbs in cooking, to inhale the heavenly aromas or to provide shade from the hot sun during the summer. The Mediterranean can cover several areas of the globe which include Australia, California, coastal areas of Chile, countries that border the Mediterranean sea, Spain, Italy, Greece and the Western Cape of South Africa which have dry high temperatures in summer followed by mild winters usually with strong winds and heavy rain, but in some areas frost can also occur. Other countries which have cooler conditions, can easily imitate this environment using a greenhouse. One of the most important part of the Mediterranean garden is to create shade from the extreme heat of the sun outdoors during the Summer months, whether for relaxing, dinning or to protect your plants. This can be in the form of a courtyard with tall palms or trees, a patio with a pergola shaded by vines or climbing plants or a structure attached to the house with terra cotta tiles or other material, Shade roll up blinds can also be added at the sides to protect from the wind and sun. Trees and shrubs can also provide shade but may take a few years to reach a suitable height, also adding colour and fragrance to your garden, these include Hakea also know as pin-cushion, Hakea is a beautiful shrub or five metre tree with exotic flowers pinkish red in the centre with spikes which turn to an orange pink tone over time which attracts honey bees, and with long thin blue green grey leaves. It is native to Western Australia where it is known for its stunning appearance and there are approximately 150 species and also a few hybrids. Robinia pseudoacacia also called the black locust is a hardwood tree that can grow to 12-30 metres in height with highly fragrant graceful clusters of cream white flowers with a splash of yellow in the centre, it produces a high amount of pollen which attracts wildlife and is native to United States but has also adapted and grown naturally in North America, Europe and Southern Africa. Carpenteria californica is a shrub or bush like tree with lovely anemone like flowers which have a sweet fragrance, white in colour with soft yellow in the centre, it is considered rare and is only native to limited areas of California and is a species of the hydrangegeaceae family.
Boronia heteropylla is an upright shrub native to Western Australia and has striking brightly coloured magenta pink bell shaped flowers each containing four petals and mid green trifolate needle like leaves. This shrub is also called red boronia and can grow to about one to three metres in height ,both the leaves and flowers are fragrant, an excellent plant for adding colour to your surroundings. Genista aetnensis is a charming bright yellow flowering tree or shrub that is native to Sicily and Sardinia, the flowers resemble a pea in shape and are fragrant similar to a jasmine scent. It can be grown as a shrub but over time can grow into a tree up to 8 metres in height. Syringa pubesceans – an attractive shrub with stunning fragrant tubular lilac flowers and ovate leaves, it attracts bees and butterflies and can also be used for hedging or borders. Callistermon has striking bottle brush like flowers in various colours, although the most usual is bright red, with long thin leaves. This shrub is native to Australia and Tasmania, the plants name Callistermon is derived from Greek meaning ‘ beautiful stamens’. Anisodontea also called the rough leaf African mallow is a woody shrub with light to bright pink showy flowers which resemble a hibiscus and grows to about two to three metres, the three lobed leaves are scented and is native to South Africa, this species is of the Malvaceae (mallow) family. Freylinia lanceolata has attractive and colourful orangey yellow long bell like flowers which are fragrant and smells similar to that of honey, it blooms all year while attracting bees, insects and birds. Hebe is a bushy shrub native to New Zealand, some types have decorative leaves in various colours of greens and white which has clusters of reddish purple flowers. The name of this plant ‘Hebe” is also a name of the goddess of Youth from Greek myth, who could restore mortal beings back to their youth to which this plant is named after her.
Climbers and vines are also excellent way for creating shade which can be grown in a container or in the soil to cover a pergola, archway, wall or fencing. The most usual vine in the Mediterranean is most certainly the grape vine Vitis and there are many varieties to choose from so you can enjoy the delicious fresh grapes in Autumn, make wine or raisins/sultanas. Passiflora is a lovely vine with tendrils and flowers with up to 9 petals and long thin wavy corona filaments, there are many varieties which range in colour from pale – dark purple, blue and pink-red which attracts honey bees, carpenter bees, butterflies and humming birds. The passion fruit of Passiflora edulis can also be eaten and added to yogurt and with other fruit. Clematis cirrhosa has beautiful elegant bell shaped flowers, creamy white in colour with pale green in the centre, sometimes with dark splotches. Thunbergia gregorii has showy and very bright orange flowers also called the trumpet vine, it is an evergreen vine native to Africa which is similar to the black eyed Susan vine. Ipomoea purpurea also know as the morning glory has striking bright purple trumpet shaped flowers in Summer with large heart shaped leaves. Solandra maxima is a lovely woody vine with large white, yellow to toffee coloured cup shaped flowers with dark lines which are scented at night. It is native to Mexico and central America but some parts of this plant is poisonous. The strong sweetly scented white flowers of Jasmine officinale or common jasmine is another amazing vine for providing shade, it is a delicate plant which can grow to four to nine metres in full sun. Palms,Succulents and cacti plants with sculptural, geometric shapes and colourful flowers are great in dry arid conditions, such as Kalanchchole luciae, paddle plant that has impressive rounded leaves with bright colours, yellowy green outlined with red which form a rosette and is popular in California. The flowers are also scented and deep yellow in colour which bloom in spring from its second year of growth on long flower stalks. Cereus a cactus with unusual sculptural shapes, Phoenix canariensis a date palm from the Canary islands, its trunk grows up to 30 ft. Chamaerops also called Mediterranean dwarf palm, a hardy plant that can withstand short cold periods. Cycas revoluta a slow growing palm native to Japan and Washingtonia robusta a tall palm tree also known as the Mexican fan palm.