• Ellen Mary

Planting Heaven


When I noticed that a garden I was about to visit was described as ‘a place of heaven’ there were a million thoughts whizzing around my head. To me, every garden is a little piece of heaven, no matter what size or style it is. So what gives the Villa Carlotta botanical garden anything extra heavenly than other gardens?

It’s on Lake Como and the panoramic views are incredible. There’s a grand entrance with steps leading up to the beautiful villa full of fascinating art and the fountain on the welcome is beautifully Italian and stylish. The gardens are easy to navigate with the map, walking peacefully for about 90 minutes (unless you stop to take hundreds of photos then double that time) and the small agricultural museum was a treat. How anyone mowed the lawn all those years ago…must have taken an age!

But it wasn't the setting that made it heavenly. It was ALL about the plants.

From pink hydrangeas mixed with blue, to a citrus grove and many cameliias, azaleas and rhododendrons (not in bloom), there were some wonderful surprises. The olive tree grove and the view from the top was special, there is a rock garden - a wall of Cacti and Succulents that here in the UK we can only dream of growing outside. There are 16 markers along the route showing special and beautiful trees and shrubs. The enormous Ginko biloba was stunning and the Magnolia tripitala leaves were about three times the size of my hand. ‘Fern Valley’ gave a much needed respite from the intense heat. The microclimate created by overhanging trees provided a shelter and cool environment over the water running through glorious tree ferns dotted around the edges.

Colour was provided by many pretty bedding plants and the Bamboo forest was like nothing I have ever seen before.

The vast amount of planting and combination of planting is magical. The gardens are fantastic, the villa is just what you would expect from a grand and stylish Italian art museum but really its all about the plants at Villa Carlotta.

For a moment, I really did think I was in heaven.

More photos HERE.


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