Il Orto Botanico dell’UniversitĂ  di Genova

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Today we ventured out to find a garden—and although what we thought would be a 14 minute walk turned into a hilltop adventure, well, we’re in Italy, so it was all fine. 

Established in 1803, the collection is not as historic or as grand at the one in Padova, but it’s a bucolic place, not well cared after, and overall, still a lot of fun. Since this university is also the owner of a large botanical garden at an estate along the Italian Riviera I will cut them plenty of slack. I cannot imagine the expense of maintaining both this property as well as the other. It alone is 44 acres so kudos to them. 

Along our walk there was much to see.

  

“Love greetings”

  

Random Graptopetalum growing out of a wall.

  

Several levels of gardens. A common sight in many areas in Italy.

  

Fig tree growing out of a wall. Just random fruit.

  

Strelitzia (bird of paradise) grow well here.

  

Citrus aurantium ssp. Aurantium var. Myrtifolia (bitter orange).

  

  

Colletia spinosa.

  

Street trees—literally.

    
 

Tecomaria capensis (cape honeysuckle).

  

Dahlia imperialis (tree dahlia).

  

Unknown little yuccas.

 
   

Fremontodendron californium a long way from home.

  

Iris japonica.

  

Pinus nigra.

  

Pittosporum.

  

Not sure.

  

Wisteria.

  
  

White rose with Colletia cruciata.

  

Amorphophallus ‘Konjac’.

    

Arbutus andrachne (Greek strawberry tree).

    

Unknown Rhododendron.

  

Unknown Magnolia.

  
  

My favorite bulb: Leopoldia comosa aka Muscari comosum.

  

Magnolia tulipiflora.

  

Araucaria bidwillii (Bunya pine).

  

Weedy Oxalis.

  

Where they catalog and keep their plants. Many here are historically medicinal ones.

  

Tamarix gallica (French tamarix) with a bad haircut.

  

Vitis vinifera with a little green lizard. Can you see it?

  

Cercis siliquastrum (Judad tree).

 
  

Cycas revoluta (female).

  

Scilla peruviana.

 

Myrtus communis subsp. Tarentina.

  

Myrtus communis subsp. Tarentina.

  
  

Water plant collection.

  
   

And then we wandered back downhill to our apartment, encountering this lovely grotto in the courtyard of a palazzo along our way. 

Volunteer Park Conservatory (Seattle): Part Three, The Palm House

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Walking from the Cactus House, back through the Seasonal Display House, you arrive where I originally entered at the middle of the building. It is the Palm House and you can see it through the door below. You know, the lovely one framed by the pair of Ficus.
At the actual entrance to the building, you will find a variegated Ficus on one side of the front door, and surprise! surprise!—at the other side too.
The ferns that drape beneath the plants really act as such an amazing barrier but I have to admit that it is very difficult to achieve this kind of look in a home. The humidity necessary can be seen if you look closely at the windows. I struggle and toil with my poor ferns here at home and so often I really wonder why I bother. I think it has something to do with the fact I simply love plants.
I do not know a lot about the Strelitzia (commonly known as the Bird of Paradise flower) except to say that their leaves are really interesting to look at from down below. I know some folks like to grow them as houseplants, but it’s one of those plants that just never seems happy indoors.
This does not look like your average houseplant version though.
Oh, and did I mention the orchids? In true Victorian fashion, they have those too. What makes them even more wonderful is that they are displayed like art. Isn’t if funny how these odd plants fascinate us so much?
The Conservatory’s orchid collection was started in 1921when they were given to the garden by Ms. Anna H. Clise. Staff appear to keep the collection going in the greenhouses behind the conservatory. Only the best ones are put on display. (I am so jealous we don’t have something like this in Portland!)
These always remind me of ribbons on little gift boxes.
Mounted up high on the wall is the true trophy: a Staghorn or Elkhorn Fern. Although these are ferns, they are truly epiphytic. This is a magnificent example of how amazing their form is when they are cared for properly.
The whole Palm House is truly very palm filled and lush.
This last picture is of a really great groundcovering palm relative I’ve never heard of: Palm Grass aka Curculigo capitulata. It reminded me so much of my Panama Hat Palm but after close examination they are very different!

Two more stops to make before I wrap this up! I simply enjoy this place far too much to rush this visit.

Flora Grubb Gardens

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If you have not yet read about, or heard about, or seen Flora Grubb and the work that comes out of her nursery, then you have certainly missed a garden design superstar and an undeniable inspiration for many of us. Undoubtedly, you must have seen her work somewhere since published examples and articles highlighting her design work have been around now for several years. After seeing the headquarters at the nursery, I came away feeling like I’d had a relaxing afternoon at a garden spa. It was amazing and I bought some really special garden items but I will post those later.

Lehua. Metrosideros collina ‘Springfire’. Hardy in zones 9-11.
Isopogon anethifolius ‘Cura Moors’. This is an Australian Protea that’s a shrub. Hardy to 20-25°F.
Strelitzia nicolai.
Grevillea lavandulacea ‘Penola’.
Willow Cone Bush. Leucadendron salignum ‘Blush’.  Zone 9b-11.
Fernleaf Banksia. Banksia blechnifolia. Hardy to the mid-20sF.
Kohuhu. Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Gold Star’. Hardy to 20sF.
I feel bad that I missed so many other fine details and plants but I was on such a tight schedule to get up to Santa Rosa to meet my husband after he finished a weekend course on wine chemistry. I tried to stop at some other shops on my way but the traffic and parking in San Fran is so bad I grew impatient and headed north.
From there, we drove for over an hour up to his dad’s house and to the vineyard in Lake County. I was so sad to see all of the rain, but then I realized that this would be the end of tailing my husband in his California car and that seemed much worse. After a night in Kelseyville, I was on my own, but many adventures were ahead of me and I looked forward to hunting for native plants, collecting rocks for the garden, and stuffing large pieces of driftwood into the car. (I will go back to Lake County next time in search of a rare endemic native plant.)