Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Boboli Gardens

Firenze: a city that is overflowing with life. From the massive throngs of tourists and locals that filled the street, to the fantastic artwork that covered everything, to the beautiful flowers and greenery in the Boboli Gardens—Florence was bustling with traces of life, both from present and past centuries.
            On our tour of the Boboli Gardens, we were all incredibly excited to hear the knowledge that Paul and Millie would share with us about both horticulture and classical history. As we entered the garden, we learned that Lorenzo Medici gave it as a gift to his wife back in the 1500's. I was pretty impressed! The guy sure did know how to give gifts! Millie told us that multiple famous gardens were modeled after the designs of Boboli Gardens, and its original architect had been world-famous when he was hired, but that he had died one year into the job. Other designers and architects saw his plans for what the garden was to look like, however, and continued with the garden to honor his wishes.
The grotto
            We walked into an outdoor amphitheater and saw statues surrounding the seating area, a giant bathtub-looking basin in the middle, and an Egyptian obelisk that had been a prized spoil of war sitting in the middle. Millie pointed out her favorite part of the statue: turtles that were holding up the obelisk. Paul noted the color of the marble used in the statue, for non-native and exotic colored marbles were prized possessions in Italian History. After climbing a large flight of stairs in the heat of the day, we found a new section of the garden. A green pool caught our eyes as the center focal point, along with three surrounding semicircles of grass and trees. The statue of Neptune in the fountain was holding up a trident, shaped to capture his stabbing motion well. The spontaneous plant life that grew in the fountain added to his wild-looking pose and the water splashing behind him created a cooling effect for the incredibly hot day. Pathways formed the three layers of semicircle, and “spontaneous herbaceous foliage” (Millie’s kind way of saying weeds) filled the spaces behind hedges. Trees in each section gave off shade, but we never could quite figure out what kind of trees they were.
Millie Explaining "Crepe Murder"
Millie's study spot at the top
As we hiked further into Boboli Gardens, we found a few more statues and the entrances to what looked like many more paths of the landscape. The boxwood hedges and shade from trees overhead on the pathways looked something like secret gardens hidden away. After we hiked our way up more steps and saw more statues, we arrived at the top of the garden where peonies and roses had just ended their blooms, and hedges were shaped into small designs and mazes on the ground. Millie pointed out the amazing smell of the peonies and showed us her favorite study spot from her days as a student in Italy. Paul and Millie also explained the concept of “Crepe Murder,” where one chops the tops of Crepe Myrtle trees off to control the tree, but it creates knobby, flat tops that do not have proportional branches. Our tour of the Boboli Gardens was one of the great highlights of our day in Florence, and it was really quite enlightening to hear facts about Italian plants and history of the gardens from a horticultural perspective. 

Molly Mitchell

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