This past Friday, we spent the day in Florence. After lunch we met up by the Duomo and traveled together to the Orto Botanico. It originally was a botanical garden at the University of Florence, but it is no longer a part of the school. Now it is privately operated. A botanical garden is different in that all of the plants in the garden are there to be treated as specimens of study instead of just there for aesthetic reasons. In this garden, there were many different kinds of plants. There were various flowers, trees, and other kinds of plants that are commonly used for food, such as lettuce, apricots, and strawberries.
One tree that really stood out to me was the Japanese Zelkova (Zelkova serrata Makino). Dr. Starman said that the tree had been planted in 1891 and had been there ever since. The placard said that this particular tree can grow to over 700 meters in circumference at the top, which is truly massive.
Also, it was incredible to see how some of the plants here can be grown in our own backyards back home, such as Magnolia trees. One plant in particular - I didn't catch its name - caught Dr. Starman's eye. She mentioned that she had the exact same plant growing in her backyard back home. It was a great experience to see how horticulture is truly global.