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Sir Thomas HANBURY’s gardens, a paradise of fragrances and colours

The signs of the presence and actions of Sir Thomas Hanbury are noticeable everywhere in Ventimiglia.

A complex personality, uncommon humanitarian qualities , a spirit of adventure and a deep love for nature: a love which he then transferred to the place and the people where he chose to live, near to the botanical acclimatization park which he had created at La Mortola and to the town of Ventimiglia.

Here he created the world in his gardens, a world made up of plants from the furthest and most remote corners of the globe. Architects and botanical experts, all of international standards, came here until the garden was finished, while in the meantime nobles and princes came to visit, following the example of the legendary Queen Victoria who came twice together with her daughter. Here the English noble style began mingling with the fragrances and tastes of Liguria and the scents of the Mediterranean scrub that so inspired artists.

Monarchs, Emperors and Princes from all over Europe, the Chinese Ambassador to England: all were enthusiastic of that natural masterpiece created by  man.

The date of the arrival in Côte d’Azur of the two brothers, Thomas and Daniel, is 1897. It will remain in the annals because it marked the history of a period “branded” by Thomas Hanbury. The initials T H, woven together, engraved on rock bear witness for eternity of a near divine project, to be seen  on the Croce di Mortola.

One may read Sir Thomas’ inscriptions scattered like flower and plant seeds arrived here from the four corners of the world in the important places of his park. On the entrance gate of the gardens he had the ideogram F O engraved, which in Chinese means  “happiness and long life”: It had been brought to him written in precious characters by the first Chinese ambassador to England who came to visit his gardens. It still remains a good omen for the many visitors  who cross the gates of the park every day.

[Donatella Lauria]

 

 

 

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