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Camellias in bloom

A feast of colours has brightened up the avenues of the gardens at Terre Borromeo early this year. Thanks to the mild temperatures of recent weeks, the flower that is the first to inaugurate the warm season, the Camellia, has already blossomed.

The oldest collection of this plant, native to the Far East, is held in the botanical park of Isola Madre, and is around two centuries old.
At the wishes of Giberto V Borromeo and his son Vitaliano IX Borromeo, in 1828 gardeners Giuseppe and Renato Rovelli began to introduce camellias into the garden on the island. In addition to the cultivation of numerous species, such as Camellia japonica AlbaPlena, Montinori, incarnata, this also provided the opportunity to select new hybrids, which today are considered the symbol of nursery gardening around Lago Maggiore, such as japonica Gloria del Verbano or Gloria delle Isole Borromee.

The work begun two centuries ago still continues in the endeavours of the gardeners, who have extended the stock of ancient camellias, adding new specimens over the years, such as Camellia sinensis, reticolata and sasanqua, or the extremely rare Franklinia alatamaha, which is now extinct in the wild.

The itinerary for getting to know and exploring the many shades of these flowers – which have a spiritual value in China and Japan – sets out from Isola Madre and continues in the Baroque garden of Isola Bella and in the Parco Pallavicino, on the Stresa lake-front, where they brighten up the avenues in the shade of centuries-old trees.

A botanical cornucopia that gives visitors a trip immersed in the fascination of these flowers, offering a beauty that, from 20 March, can be admired close-up, so you can smell their perfume.

Where to admire the camellias:

Isola Bella: to the left of the Camphor, on the espaliers of the triangle, in the belvedere
Isola Madre: Piano delle Camelie
Parco Pallavicino: beside the avenues around the park

For those who would like to take the perfume of these flowers home, it is possible to purchase the “Camelia” eau de toilette by Acqua di Stresa in the bookshops on Isola Bella and Isola Madre.

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