Padua’s Botanical gardens

Padua, a university town in Italy, is not far from Venice.

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Basilica di Santa Guistina and in the foreground the new greenhouses of the Botanical Gardens of Padua

We visited Padua for a few nights, and had the good fortune to book into the most hospitable hotel we have ever stayed in..  Andrea and her lovely staff gave us suggestions on where to go, where to eat, and tips on Italian phrases… nothing was too much trouble…(I wish I had taken a photo of them). Breakfast was a treat! The name is …Hotel Belludi 37

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We also had a chance to see the Botanical gardens in Padua. It is the world’s oldest university garden of its kind. It was founded so that students could research and recognise medicinal plants.

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The morning we visited the garden, it was just recovering from a heavy storm the night before. However, the old garden layout is much the same as it was in its founding days of 1545.

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This map shows the plan of the garden, the plants are divided by category in beds organised into geometric shapes. There are, rare and endangered, poisonous plants, and medicinal plants and an Alpine rockery

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The greenhouse on the right hand side of the previous photo holds Goethe’s Palm, planted in 1585.

The Saint Peter’s palm (chamaerops humilis) inspired the German poet to write theories on nature in his Metamorphosis of Plants.

It was impossible to get a photo of the whole palm tree while standing inside the temperature controlled greenhouse.

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Nonetheless, it was a very humbling moment to stand beside a tree that has continued to grow through so much history, and still survives.

To think Elizabeth 1 was on the throne at this time, and Sir Francis Raleigh was sailing around looking for colonies!

IMG_2887 (1024x746)The gardens were founded by the Venetian Republic, and exotic plants were brought from countries that traded with Venice.

IMG_1857 (1024x765) (1024x765)The design of this very old garden is still very easy to see and follow.

IMG_2912 (1024x768)This Ginkgo Biloba tree dates back to the mid 18th century, and is considered to be the oldest specimen in Europe

IMG_2942 (1024x824)The gardens have new greenhouses, which run on solar and water-power. These gardens are designed to take us on a journey through the Earth’s climate zones and for us to see how plants have adapted to their various habitats.

IMG_2941 (1024x810)The trail in the Greenhouse has five parts, a tropical rainforest, a sub-humid tropical rainforest, and temperate, Mediterranean and arid regions..

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Renanthera Coccinea

This plant (a type of orchid) was almost covering one of the entrance doors…I have never seen anything quite like it.

If you ever get to Padua, I would suggest allowing yourself two days for these gardens, because the three greenhouses were packed with wonderful and diverse plants (as you can imagine)

We were almost overwhelmed by the amount of treasures just in the greenhouses alone..

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The Botanic gardens of Padua have been Unesco World Heritage listed (1997) for its exceptional universal value in the birth of science. It has, and continues to contribute, to modern science, botany, medicine, chemistry, ecology, and pharmacy.

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In the very turbulent world we have today, I take heart from the amount of school children we’ve seen on excursions to places like the ancient Padua Botanical gardens. These gardens are showing children our history, some of the wonders of the world, and the positive contribution that has been made to our world over time.

Salute to the teachers and parents who take children to such places. My next Prosecco will be a toast to all of you!

Copyright Geraldine  Mackey. All rights reserved.