7 April 2022
April’s sweet blossoms: on Isola Madre magnolias, mimosas and proteas in bloom
A large part of the charm of Isola Madre derives from its mild microclimate: its botanical garden is among the first for acclimatisation in Italy. And it seems that it was precisely this characteristic that made Lancillotto Borromeo fall in love with the location in the early 1500s. You will understand this when, on disembarking on the island, you feel the pleasant embrace of the vegetation surrounded by the blue waters of the lake.
The mildness of the temperatures is ideal for welcoming exotic plants originating from every part of the world. Starting out on the route in the garden along Viale Africa, the warmest zone of the island, you immediatelynotice the acacia verticillata from New Zealand, one of the rarest and most beautiful mimosas. Venturing further into this perfumed Eden, you soon reach the Square of the Parrots and, on the left, the Wood of Magnolias. Standing out here are specimens of magnolia grandiflora reaching as much as thirty metres in height with their glossy, leathery leaves.
Some rarities stand out in the collection consisting of around 30 varieties, spread out here and there throughout the English-style garden: one of these is the Yellow Bird, which can be recognised by its bright goblet-shaped yellow flowers, up to 12 centimetres wide. Then there are three varieties of Alba: the magnolia denudata of Chinese origin, which is full of large snow-white goblet-shaped flowers and catches the eye for itsbeautiful bearing, the ultra-refined Leda, with its white undulating petals, and the Campbell Alba, in whose flowers you almost seem to glimpse a flight of gulls. Coming from the Himalayan zone, this variety has large down-facing petals.
One of the oldest botanical treasures on Isola Madre is to be found in the Terrace of the Proteas. Also present in this space, which was opened in 2013 and is reserved for the national flower of South Africa, areexamples of the same species of Australian origin and from other countries with a Mediterranean climate. Once again the very special climate, together with drainage treatments and mulching of the soil, has made possible the establishing of proteas in the ground, which here are also protected by a cork hedge.
So don’t miss the opportunity to get to know these other gems that spring offers us close-up.