Friday 23 October 2015

Gardens to visit when you stay in Sorrento

Four gardens, three trips

These are the gardens
Naples Botanic Garden
Villa Rufolo and Villa Cimbrone at Ravello on the Amalfi/Positano coast
La Mortella on Ischia

My son lives in Vico Equense on the Sorrento peninsula and we visit him regularly. This time we brought gardening friends Mike and Isobel and stayed in Sorrento
Classic Sorrento scene
Note the huge cowboy cactus which is a euphorbia and not a cactus at all!
Villa Rufolo
Our 230 euros bought us eight hours with a taxi. The driver had difficulty comprehending that we wished to go straight to Ravello and stay there for four hours. No stops, just straight there! His little rewards at tourist hot spots visibly evaporated! It is a magnificent drive and you see most of the classical places.
Both Ravello gardens are on high with magnificent views.

We started with a coffee
The Rufolo garden inspired the magic garden in Richard Wagner’s opera Parsifal.

It inspires artists too
On a site with a thousand year history it boasts magnificent plant bedding. We loved it and I was charmed by the magnificent impatiens!
Wonderful impatiens
The background planting contains mature and rare shrubs, wall climbers and trees. Many were beyond botanist Mike’s and my own identification!

Superb umbrella pines

A label informed us that this is a climbing bean tree

We failed to identify this bulb

And this weed

Villa Cimbrone

Beckett’s fine mansion is now a hotel

Try your italian
It is a delightful ten minute walk to Villa Cimbrone. This magnificent eccentric garden was created by Ralf Ernest William Beckett, dilettante, philanderer, banker, gambler, opportunist, conservative MP, and bankrupt. The second Baron Grimethorpe died in 1917 having lived his last thirteen years in Ravello.

The garden is a delightful eclectic mix
Isobel marching ahead

There was a darkside to Beckett’s idyll
A touch of regret

A view within the garden

Naples Botanic Garden 

There are wonderful mature trees
You will need to make an appointment by telephone or e-mail. You won’t quite have this wonderful place to yourself but almost - and entrance is free. It is a ‘must’ for any gardener.
We took the morning ferry to Naples, popped on the metro and were very soon there. (The magnificent new metro station is very easy to navigate, and Tim was there to hold our hand).

The carboniferous garden

The water hyacinth is confined to a small pond. In the tropics this nitrogen fixer is an invasive aquatic weed 

For me the cactus garden was the main attraction
La Mortella
Mission unaccomplished

(Some of the readers who read about my first unaccomplished mission might remember that the last time we failed to make our garden destination was in Costa Rica). 
We failed to show our friends our very favourite garden! Created by gardening genius Lady Susana Walton, wife of serial philanderer composer William Walton. Strictly translated mortella means ‘the myrtles’ and on a scrubby cliff bank this Argentinian lady fashioned her masterpiece.

The visit was to be the high point at the end of our holiday. Unfortunately the sea was rough and the ferry was cancelled all day. Sorry no pictures and you will have to wait for our visit next year!
Meanwhile two tips for you! Arrange your trip to Ischia for early in your holiday and do not go on Monday, Wednesday, or Friday. It is a long way to go and to find the garden closed!

Memories of Sorrento

Looking  through the reeds across the Bay of Naples at Vesuvius, the sleeping threatening giant

The olives were being harvested during our stay
I always love the Cyclamen hederifolium that grows everywhere in unlikely places and sometimes in very heavy shade. When in Italy I insist on calling it by its original evocative name Cyclamen neapolitanum.
After my post about cyclamen I regretted stating this species was scented and failed detect any odour in every flower I sniffed. In Sorrento the mountain sides were pervaded with its exquisite delicate perfume

Cyclamen neapolitanum (If you are near Naples)

The picture of our favourite restaurant, The Favorita was taken to illustrate bad tree staking for my next post!
The restaurant opens like a tardis from its small street frontage into a huge Mediterranean indoor garden. It is the best place to eat in Sorrento and we ate almost all our evening meals there.


  1. We have been to the first garden and remember looking out over the bay. It's a lovely part of the world.
    I've never noticed thar the cyclamen have a perfume.

  2. Just drink in the atmosphere and you will smell the perfume Sue!
    It was a different walk where it was so evocative.

  3. What an incredible trip! I would have loved to visit there. Your images are stunning. I just read where Italy was voted the top vacation destination. France was #2. The US #4.

    1. And I read on your blog that you are off to Germany. Have a good time Donna.
      Compliments about pictures are special when they come from you.

  4. Naples Botanic Garden :)

  5. Thanks for the link to the botanic garden CK
    (Note for readers -the Orange link to Campanica does not help much but the none live link in the comment can be copy and pasted into the google bar)


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