Gardens La Mortella/ Giardini La Mortella
Gardens La Mortella/ Giardini La Mortella
“Looking at beauty in the world, is the first step of purifying the mind”
Jewel of the Island – so is often called the gardens of La Mortella. Located slightly away from the noisy road, the lower level of the garden is in the valley, at the foot of a rocky hill, the upper one is set on its very top, they represent a luxuriant tropical oasis, true little corner of peace and beauty.
Snow-white arched entrance, smothered in large green leaves of the vine; tall trees making a dense roof here and there, creating such pleasant saving shade.. With the first step you fall into another world: the world teeming with vivid tropical greenery, splashing with varicoloured rare flowers, impressing by never yet seen trees and fruits.. that from the first moment fills you up with harmony and a pure rapture.
Lady Susanna Walton, wife of the famous British composer William Walton, created these gardens. They moved to the island in the 1950s; landscape architect Russell Page designed the lower part of the garden, and that was followed by the long years of Lady Susanna’s tireless work. For over 50 years she had continuously been creating and developing her brainchild: planning, planting, cultivating, turning the rough rocky land into the natural masterpiece; relentlessly replenishing it with rare and exotic plants brought from all over the world. 3000 specimens of plants (!) have found their home on this relatively small piece of Ischia’s land.
Often the vast variety and diversity of plant species you recognize only by a plaque with names and places of their origin – and it is amazing of how many farthermost corners of the world have here their settled down representatives!
Light sound and twinkle of the fountain water, shady paths and quiet ponds with water-loving flowers of finest beauty, lotuses and water lilies, little greenhouses-temples of tropical flowers… all that creates a unique miraculous reality.
There are three greenhouses here: Orchide house, Temple of the Sun and Victoria’s house.
In the Temple of the Sun (Tempio del Sole), sunbeams filter through the ceiling openings focusing itself and creating the clear contrasts of light and shade, where fuse into a single whole the mythological bas-reliefs of light walls, water streaming around, mellow green tropical plants and their vivid inflorescences.
In the Victoria House lives a unique Victoria amazonica – a representative of the largest water lily in the world! No wonder, it is considered a queen of water lilies – with its striking enormous “platysh” round leaves floating on the water surface.
It has an extraordinary way of blooming – in about three days the flower changes sex and color! Within several hours the gentle white petals of female flower is turning into crimson or violet male flowers, after that they sink into the water and do not appear anymore. It must be a big luck to see Victoria‘s blooming live..
Small water oasis with Victoria Amazonica is surrounded by orchids, bromeliads and descending in a long cascades creepers which instantly arrest your eye. The one – by the translucent emerald-green clusters of flowers – also known as a “Jade vine”; and another one – by its bright red-yellow bunches of flowers beneath a light canopy of pale green foliage.
And that entire ensemble of exotic plants, unseen marvelous flowers, shining with all rainbow colors and looking out from every corner of this vegetation wealth, glittering fountain veils of innumerable «hopping» water crystalls, pearl-greenhouses, twittering little birds… all together breaths, sings, dances, everything is alive and on the move…
It seems sometimes that you are in a music hall, where now one, then another note appears, and then at once they are merging into melodies … into continuously flowing various wonderful melodies…
Real concerts are also held here. In a small hall located between lower and upper levels of the garden, take place the chamber music concerts. For the large symphony concerts so called Greek theater (Teatro il Greko) was created. It is built into the mountain so that rocky high walls surround it ensuring the perfect acoustics.
Made in the shape of semi-amphitheater, it is located almost at the highest point of the garden, where opens the gorgeous view over the large bay and sprawling far below the snow-white houses and churches of the Forio town.
Enthralled by the sounds of music, in the surrounding of the perfect beauty of this floral paradise, sensing the subtle fragrance of herbs and once in a while birds’ chirping reaching you out.. you get into entirely another dimension of space and time, the finest one and rarely precious.. for the moments life pauses and stands still in the highest manifestation of itself.
In the overhanging greenery of the garden a little cafe is hidden, a peculiar kind of a tea house, where is always shady and quiet. They offer a wide variety of tea, which is served in invariable tea set of a blue color..
In the garden museum you can watch the film with lady Susanne Walton. Looking at her, full of energy and passion, complete dedication and total immersion in what she does and talks about: garden, each singular plant; till the last moment of the life taking care about her brainchild.. you clearly see a reflection of her ebullient energy, eccentric and vivid personality in the garden itself: in all its individual, bright and very different from each other bits and elements, which nevertheless are united by one thread and one spirit.. creating the space of a sheer harmony and supreme beauty.
You leave the garden filled with quiet happiness and light, keeping inside its unique charm and beauty. And one can return here again and again: at “each” time, whenever you come, up to the time of a day, you find it is already different, changed this wondrous plant world.
P.S. In 2004, La Mortella garden was recognized as the most beautiful garden in Italy, now it is in the range of the most beautiful gardens in the world.
Victoria Amazonica: it turned out I saw its blooming live (!) in the previous visit few years ago, in May