“Give me, odorous at sunrise, a garden of beautiful flowers where I can walk undisturbed,” wrote the famous American poet Walt Whitman. The miracle of a budding flower is a wonder that never ceases to amaze. Spring has gloriously sprung here in Rome, so let’s discover the city through its oral attractions.
The Municipal Rose Garden
This splendid community (pirtured above) garden hosts 1100 varieties of roses, both ancient and modern, originating from all over the world. The sloping garden that overlooks the ruins of the Circus Maximus and the Palatine Hill even boasts primordial species, dating back 40 million years. A bit of British history is represented as well, with a rose dedicated to the end of the War of the Roses: the bud is red like the Lancaster rose, but as it opens, it turns white, like the York rose. Another rare color-changing rose is the Mutabilis, which changes color seven times over five days: from red to orange, yellow, cream, light pink, deep pink, and finally crimson. The Chinese botanical rose is another notable bloom, unique for its red, transparent, wing-link thorns. Open daily, 8:30am to 7:30pm. Via di Valle Murcia, 6.
Tulipark, The Dutch Garden
Rome’s newest oral marvel is also the first Dutch garden in Italy, a massive space exploding with thousands of tulips, including 91 individual varieties of this sensual and elegant flower. With the park’s ingenious “U-Pick” method, you can cut your favorite tulips straight from the garden and take them home with you. The garden also features traditional Dutch attractions such as a wooden windmill, iconic oversized wooden clogs, and folk dancing performances. Open daily, 9am–7pm. Via dei Gordiani, 73. tulipark.it
The Botanical Garden
With its 12 hectares of green space and nearly 2000 square meters of greenhouses, Rome’s Botanical Garden is the largest of its kind in Italy. It’s a corner of unspoiled nature on the slopes of the Janiculum Hill, with a greenhouse full of common plants, another boasting tropical plants, and themed gardens such as the rose garden, the valley of ferns, and the bamboo forest. From a high vantage point, visitors can admire typical mountain plants as well as a Japanese garden. One of the greenhouses also boasts a “perfume garden” for the sight impaired, where the classifications of the plants are displayed in braille. Open Mon–Sat, 9am–6:30pm. Largo Cristina di Svezia, 24.
The Garden of Ninfa
The most beautiful and romantic garden in the world, at least according to The New York Times, is Ninfa, a natural monument that is all that is left of the eponymous medieval town located about an hour south of Rome. This glorious garden has taken over the ruined towers and crumbling stone bridges of the abandoned hamlet, making it into a secret paradise that combines nature and history. But it also has the soul of a traditional English garden, with a dizzying variety of plants, including magnolias, birch, cherry trees, irises, ornamental apple trees, and Japanese maples, all flowering in spectacular fashion this month. Over 1300 species of plants are represented in the eight-hectare garden, including numerous types of climbing roses. Ninfa’s unique and humid microclimate also allows for the cultivation of tropical plants and flowers, which create a surprising yet harmonious addition to the rest of the garden’s ora. Open 1, 4, 5, 12, 19, and 26 May, 9am–12noon and 2:30–6pm. giardinidininfa.eu
The Japanese Garden
The first of its kind in Italy created by a Japanese landscape designer, this garden includes all the essential elements of a traditional sen’en (garden with pond). Stroll amongst the waterfall, rocks, tiny islets, arched bridge, and traditional stone lantern, or tōrō. The veranda, or tsuridono, which extends over the pond, is one of the best places to take in a view of the garden. Among the plants present are cherry trees or sakura, the oral symbol of Japanese culture, wisteria, irises, and dwarf pines.
Reserve a visit to the garden through the website of the Japanese Cultural Institute of Rome, jfroma.it.
Where To Buy
If exploring one of these gardens has you longing to surround yourself with blossoms, visit professional Via Trionfale Flower Market, open to the public on Tuesdays only, from 10am to 1pm. Here you can snap up countless varieties of both cut and dried flowers, branches, and aromatic plants. Or, take a stroll through Campo de’ Fiori; now it’s a busy market square selling produce as well as blooms, but prior the 1400s it was a flowery open meadow, hence its name. If you’re looking for an artistically designed bouquet, stop into Ciaffoni, one of the most famous florists in the city and the result of four generations of artisans (Via Flavia, 80/82). Another unmissable boutique is Tulipani Bianchi, owned by Franz Steiner, a brilliant Swiss florist whose creations are highly sought after by hotels and other international clients (Via degli Olmetti, 44a, Formello). Dordas Flowers, founded by the flower magician Efran Dordas, has specialized for over ten years in personalized and avant-garde floral creations, particularly arrangements for events and weddings (Largo del Teatro Valle 5)
If all this talk of flowers has you dreaming of planting your own Italian garden back home, stop by the Auditorium Parco della Music for some inspiration. In the idyllic setting of the of the PDM’s Hanging Gardens, the 9th edition of the annual Festival of Garden and Landscape explodes into life from 10 to 12 May. Italy’s most famous green expo features three full days of flower competitions, temporary gardens, landscape design, and natural exhibits, as well as conferences and workshops that explore the relationship between man, nature, and city. In addition to drawing inspiration for creating one’s own natural oasis, a walk through the exposition will provoke visitors to reflect on the need for a radical change in our relationship with nature. The climate-landscaping installation Airship.03 – Air Fountain, is an unmissable opportunity to examine the human inclination to dialogue with nature, as well as an invitation to view a relationship with nature not as a luxury, but as a basic need.
Via Pietro De Coubertin, 30. auditorium.com