Tuesday, June 9, 2015

A Classroom in the Middle of Florence

During our visit to Florence this week, we had the opportunity to visit a former university’s garden called Orto Botanico di Firenze. After a long day of walking, seeing this beautiful and interesting garden was quite refreshing! Our horticulture professor explained to us that this garden is considered “botanical,” meaning that it primarily provides plant specimens for the purpose of learning. This was perfect for our class. We got to see certain poisonous plants like an opium poppy and tobacco used to make cigarettes and insecticides. We saw certain plants used for medicinal purposes. However, perhaps the most interesting element of this botanical garden was its effort to provide examples of the garden styles of other countries and time periods. There was a section that mimicked the medieval style, with the grass shaped into squares. There was a section that emulated an English style garden, with repetitions and patterns of the color yellow in its flowers.  My favorite was the Asian garden section. It had gravel patterned to depict water and several boulders and pruned flowers. It also had a stone bowl, into which the bamboo was supposed to feed water.  Our professor explained that the idea behind this is that one is supposed to drink water from this bowl in the ground to prove one's humility and humble lifestyle. All in all, I appreciated seeing several of the garden elements that we’d discussed in class in one place. It was the perfect end to our day in Florence. 


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