The Gardens of Rome

June 27th, 2007

Stone Pines on the Street
I just got back from a week’s vacation in Rome. The ruins were nice, the art, it was all good, but I really liked the landscape.

All over the area we traveled around Rome (though not so much in Florence to the north) there were these massive pines I had never seen before. Turns out they’re Stone Pines (pinus pinea), sometimes called umbrella pines (though do not confuse them with the Japanese umbrella pine), and have been an important argicultural tree for thousands of years. Botanists think they were originally from the Iberian peninsula (Spain, Portugal), but since they were planted so widely along the Mediterranean so long ago they cannot be sure. These trees are the prime source of Italian (and other) pine nuts that feature so prominently in their cuisine.

Anyways, the trees are absolutely gorgeous. They have growth habit more like a broadleaf tree than a pine, with a clear understory, a nice branching pattern, and a large flat top canopy. So structural, shade casting but open underneath for under planting, and beautiful cracked orangish bark.

Alas… they appear to only be hardy to zone 7, maybe southern zone 6 with protection, and here I am in the middle of zone 5. Apparently there are some groves out in California that people have planted, but that doesn’t help me here in Michigan.

We do plan to move south one day though, so maybe at my next house I’ll be able to plant these beauties.

Overall I really liked the landscape of Rome, the rolling hills, the mix of trees. Now sure these pines are more adapted to warmth than cold, but yet they are still pines, and you’d find them planted along with (non-native I think) palms of varying types. Additionally very large (and also non-native) agaves could be found in many gardens.

Then nearly every building in Rome had a rooftop garden or balconies full of plants, that itself was gorgeous.

Unfortunately I didn’t make it to any formal gardens in Rome. We did go to the Vatican, but their garden’s were private by appointment only. Then for others they tended to be too far for easy transport (aka walking) and we were busy with all the other stuff. Yet I still got some pictures, to see the rest check out the gallery here.

3 Responses to “The Gardens of Rome”

  1. Paul Duxbury  Says:

    I lived and studied out in Rome some years ago and the public Gardens are quite amazing especially Villa Borghese. You will also find that there are some real hidden gems if you get chance to go into some of the private gardens that are dotted around the city.

    I loved going to Assisi where the setting is stunnign and again you see such a variety of gardens.

    Take care


  2. Larry  Says:

    Stone Pines have been planted in my area of California. Check out the street planting of Stone Pines in Lompoc,CA. They mistakingly thought they were planting Monterey Pines.

  3. Larry  Says:

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