The Fabulous Hanbury Gardens on the Riviera
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The Fabulous Hanbury Gardens on the Riviera

It takes several days to discover all the beauties these gardens have to offer with a sumptuous décor and 7,000 species of plants.

The magnificent Palazzo Orengo in the Hanbury Gardens, near Ventimiglia, Italy.

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In 1867, when returning from China where he made a fortune, Sir Thomas Hanbury was looking for a residence to escape the rainy climate of Britain. He discovers the Capo Mortola on the Italian Riviera, a few kilometers from Menton. The property includes a beautiful XVIth century mansion and is crossed by the antique Via Julia Augusta. With the help of his elder brother Daniel, a botanist and the gardener Ludwig Winter, Sir Thomas fits up the garden and plants as from 1868. Medicinal and sub-tropical plants as well as citrus fruits artistically ornate the park along with architectural elements and fountains. The Suspended Garden, the Australian Forest, the orange grove, olive and rose trees with the peonies harmoniously blend their fragrances around the Palazzo Orengo. This Villa was built in the XVIth century in the Genoese Style and became the property of the Orengo Family in 1620. Thomas Hanbury later added the elegant West wing. The park indeed is a dream come true.

You begin the tour with the ficus and aloes alley leading to this sheltered area where banana-trees grow at ease. Near the gazebo, you notice the American agaves. Further on, the zigzagged path leads to the amaryllis and cyclamen, in full blossom, just for you. To the right, you discover the extraordinary cycas, palm-trees and exotic pine-trees, namely the "Cupressus Lusitanica" from Guatemala.It was planted in 1868 close to the Palazzo Orengo. In front of the South façade, you find the "Giardino Pensile", the typically Genoese suspended garden.  Facing the portal, the Pergola welcomes you, you are so surprised with the Dragon Basin and the Fountain of the Jars. On your way to the odoriferous Australian Forest planted with several species of eucalyptus, you cross the arch over the Via Aurelia. It used to connect Rome with Arles in Provence. The part of the gardens on the seaside is more traditional than the upper park with the roses, olive-trees and orange grove. A small path takes you to the Moorish mausoleum of Sir Thomas Hanbury and his wife. You finally take another whiff of fragrant air in the newly created Scented Garden where all the plants are labelled with their names. Why not take notes and grow some of them later in your own garden? The "Thunbergia mysorensis" certainly will draw all your attention, it is  a sumptuous evergreen vine often reaching 6 m (20 feet), it attracts lovely hummingbirds.

These wonderful gardens, certainly one of the most magnificent on Earth, were devastated during World War II by bombings, troops and vandalism. They have been carefully restored since then and declared a nature preserve in 2000. The University of Genoa does here a remarkable work.

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The Pavilion.

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The collection of cacti.

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The tomb of Thomas Hanbury and his wife.

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The Thunbergia mysorensis or "Clock vine" attracting hummingbirds.

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 A hummingbird.

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The Genoese Villa in the Hanbury Gardens.

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Comments (10)

What a refreshing article. I love gardens and this reminded me of the movie the "Secret Garden". I also love the pic of the humming bird. We have a lot of those here. Thanks for this fantastic tour of the Hanbury Gardens :)

Excellent article! Wish I was there!


The gardens look and sound lovely. I don't think I'd want to leave if I ever got a chance to visit ;-)

Idyllic serenity on earth.

Amazing! How great that the gardens were restored. Nice work!

Ranked #8 in Italy

A wonderful exploration of an eccentric Englishman's fantasy. You have given us a real insight into the history, architecture and landscape of this idyllic place. Well done, Francois.

Ranked #3 in Italy

Many thanks my friends for your kind comments.

Great article with matching pictures, Francois.

I was attracted with the title... It says gardens and I wasn't dissapointed. This is a wonderful share, Francois. Thank you :)

Thanks for sharing this article on Italy and the lovely pictures. I am someone who will never travel the world but I can sure enjoy it from a distance.