In the eight hectare-Monumental Garden of Valsanzibio and adjacent 4 hectare-park there are approximately 800 individual plants and trees, made up of over 100 different species. Approximately 70% of the plants found at Valsanzibio today were originally planned between 1664 and 1669.
The Monumental Garden of Valsanzibio is unique in the world for its resident of Boxwood plants (Buxus Sempervirens) for the following reasons:
- The surface area of our Boxwoods is approximately 60,000 square metres
- The majority of our Boxwoods are over 350 years old
- Our highest Boxwoods (found along the Boulevards) stand at over six metres tall
There is also approximately 40,000 square metres of Hornbeam plants (Carpinus betulus) that, for the most part, are trimmed in such a way to form ‘tunnels’ including the three ‘Shadow’s Alleys’. Like the majority of our plants, around 70% of these are original, planted between 1664 and 1669. Therefore considering that when they would have been planted they would have already been 15-20 years old (having been cultivated in a nursery) this makes these plants over 350 years old.
The California Cedar (Calocedrus Decurrens, #4 in the map below), another original feature of the garden, is the oldest specimen of its type in present-day in Europe.
All of the Boulevards and Alleys of the garden are bordered on both sides by Boxwood plants (The “Cardo” or Main Boulevard, The “Decumano” or Water Boulevard and the “Venetian Alley”) or by Hornbeam trees (the three “Shadow’s Alleys”) with the exception of the “Rainbow Boulevard” which at its southern end is bordered by boxwood plants whilst the northern end is flanked by three different species of Maple tree (Acer Campestre, Acer Platanoides and Acer Negundo).
The “Venetian Alley”, lined by centuries-old Boxwood plants standing between five and six metres, is a special construct that replicates the typical alleyways found in Venice, known as “Calle Veneziane” in Venetian dialect. This unique feature, not found anywhere else in the world, runs along the entire east-west axis of the garden (approximately 500 meters) and is less than 1.5 meters wide.
This tree (Calocedrus or Libocedrus Decurrens), like approximately 70% of the plants found at Valsanzibio is an original feature of the garden, planted in the area of Rabbit Island around 1665.
This specimen is considered to be one of the oldest of its species found in Europe today, and was taken from the northern part of California arriving in Valsanzibio after a long journey via sea. The voyage would have taken over five months (during which time the tree had to be maintained and kept alive, using a scarce provision of fresh water) following the Pacific coasts of North and South America until reaching the Strait of Magellan and crossing the Atlantic to reach Spanish or Portuguese ports. It would be here in Europe that the Barbarigo purchased the specimen, having it transported through the Straights of Gibraltar, across the Mediterranean before entering the Adriatic Sea en route to Venice where it would finally reach Valsanzibio via the Brenta Riviera, the Battaglia Channel and through the Valley of Saint Eusebio’s (Valsanzibio) marshland.
As this California Cedar would have been between twenty and thirty years old when it left America, the overall age of this giant is estimated to be between 370 and 380 years old.
1. Cedrus deodara
2. Quercus ilex
3. Cedrus atlantica
4. Calocedrus o Libocedrus Decurrens
5. Cryptomeria japonica
6. Chamaecyparis lawsoniana
7. Cupressus arizonica « Glauca »
8. Platanus acerifolia (hispanica o hybrida)
9. Sequoia sempervirens
10. Taxodium distichum
11. Photinia serrulata
12. Fagus sylvatica pendula
13. Magnolia grandiflora
14. Chamaecyparis pisifera
15. Cupressus sempervirens
16. Lagerstroemia indica rubra
17. Aesculus hippocastanum
18. Taxus baccata
19. Pinus pinea
20. Cephalotaxus harringtonia drupacea
21. Buxus balearica
22. Thuja occidentalis
23. Thuja orientalis
24. Elaeagnus angustifolia
25. Carpinus betulus
26. Tilia cordata
27. Eriobotrya japonica
28. Cedrus libani
29. Picea abies
30. Buxus sempervirens “Aureomarginato”
31. Aucuba japonica
32. Vinca major
33. Convallaria japonica
34. Hypericum calycinum
a. The “Cardo”, the Main Boulevard – bordered by high walls of Buxus sempervirens;
b. The “Decumano”, the Water Boulevard – perpendicular to the ‘Cardo’ and bordered by high walls of Buxus sempervirens;
c. The Venetian Alley, “La Calle Veneziana” – this thoroughfare reproduces with high walls of Buxus sempervirens a typical Venetian street;
d. The Rainbow Boulevard – bordered along the north end by maple’s trees (Acer campestre, Acer platanoides and Acer negundo) and by high walls of Buxus sempervirens;
e. The Shadow’s Alleys. – flanked by Hornbean’s trees (Carpinus betulus).
EVERGREEN PLANTS (refer to the map of the historic garden and list above)
1. Cedrus deodara – Indian Cedar or Deodora Cedar (Pinaceae): conifer from the Himalaya area; it can grow to over 70 metres; the oldest specimen found in the garden is approximately 200 years old;
3. Cedrus atlantica – Atlantic Cedar (Pinaceae): conifer from the Atlas region (Algeria & Morocco); it can grow to over 40 metres; the oldest specimens found in the garden are approximately 300 years old;
28. Cedrus libani – Lebanon Cedar (Pinaceae): conifer from the Lebanon region; it can grow to over 30 metres; the oldest specimen found in the garden is approximately 90 years old;
2. Quercus ilex – Holm oak (Fagaceae): originally from the Mediterranean area; it can grow up to 28 metres; the four oldest specimens found in the garden are about 350 years old;
4. Calocedrus o Libocedrus Decurrens – Incense, California or American Cedar (Cupressaceae): conifer from the Oregon and California areas; it can grow up to 35 to 40 metres; the oldest specimen of the garden is over 350 years old and the oldest of its species in Europe;
5. Cryptomeria japonica – Japanese Cedar or Cypress (Taxodiaceae): conifer from China and Japan; it can grow up to 33 to 50 metres; the three older specimens found in the garden are approximately 220 years old;
6. Chamaecyparis lawsoniana – Lawson or White Cypress (Cupressaceae): conifer from the Oregon and California regions; it can grow up to 60 metres; the oldest specimen found in the garden is over 350 years old and it is a cutting from the original tree that died approximately 20 years ago;
14. Chamaecyparis pisifera – Japanese Cypress (Cupressaceae): conifer from Japan; it can grow up to 45 metres; the oldest specimen found in the garden is approximately 300 years old;
7. Cupressus arizonica « Glauca » – Arizona Cypress (Cupressaceae): conifer coming from the United States; it can grow up to 23 metres; the oldest specimen found in the garden is about 180/200 years old;
9. Sequoia sempervirens – Redwood or Bastard cedar (Taxodiaceae): conifer from the North American Pacific coasts together with the Sequoiadendron giganteum, this redwood is the tallest and longest-living tree in the world. In California a specimen has reached the height of 111 metres and is over 1000 years old. The older specimen found in the garden is over 350 years old;
15. Cupressus sempervirens – Italian or Common Cypress (Cupressaceae): conifer from the European Mediterranean area; it can grow up to 45 metres; the oldest specimens found in the garden are over 350 years old;
19. Pinus pinea – Umbrella, Domestic or “Pine Nuts” pine (Pinaceae): conifer from the south-western part of Europe; it can grow up to 30 metres; the older specimen found in the garden is over 350 years old;
22. Thuja occidentalis – Western Thuja (Cupressaceae): conifer from western America; it can grow up to 15 metres; the oldest specimens found the garden are approximiately 350 years old;
23. Thuja orientalis – Eastern, Chinese Thuja, or The Tree of Life (Cupressaceae): conifer from China, Manchuria and Korea; it can grow up to 18 metres; the oldest specimens found in the garden are over 350 years old;
29. Picea abies – Red spruce or Norway spruce (Pinaceae): conifer from the mountain chain running from Scandinavia to north-west Russia and central Europe; it can grow up to 36 metres; the oldest specimens found in the garden are about 180 years old;
18. Taxus baccata – Yew tree (Taxaceae): from Europe, Iran and Algeria; it can grow up to 25 metres; in this garden there are several (more than 40) yew trees that are more than 350 years old. Some are of the Taxus bacata ‘fastigiata’ subspecies and are easily distinguished from the more common Yew as their leaves point upward. The branches, seeds and old leaves of yew trees are very poisonous because they all contain an alkaloid, a toxin varies in strength from between 0.5 and 2 (percentage). This strong natural poison has a narcotic and paralysing effect on humans and on many domestic animals. The only part of Yews that is toxin-free is the pulp of the fruit, a typically reddish or yellow berry. When birds eat these berries they digest the pulp before excreting the high poisonous seed into the surrounding environment.
20. Cephalotaxus harringtonia drupacea – Japanese ‘Cefalotasso’ (Cephalotaxaceae): from central China originally, it also grows in Japan and Korea; it is differentiated from the Taxus baccata by the fact is is not toxic, and it features longer and brighter (coloured) leaves; it can grow up to 3-5 meters; the oldest specimens found in the garden are about 300 years old;
21. Buxus balearica – Balearic or gentle boxwood (Buxaceae): coming from the Balearic Islands and from the south-west Spain; it can grow up to 8 metres; it is differentiated from the evergreen boxwood (Buxus sempervirens) by its larger, smoother and brighter leaves; the oldest specimens found in the garden are over 350 years old;
30. Buxus sempervirens “Aureomarginato” – Chequered evergreen boxwood (Buxaceae): from Europe, north Africa and west Asia; it can grow up to 8 metres; it is differentiated from the evergreen boxwood (Buxus sempervirens) by its whitish/cream leaf edges; the oldest specimens found in the garden are approximately 250 years old;
11. Photinia serrulata – Photinia (Rosaceae): from Japan and China; it can grow up to 5 metres; its leaves resemble those of the cherry laurel (Prunus laurocerasus) and its white flowers bloom in April;
13. Magnolia grandiflora – White Magnolia (Magnoliaceae): evergreen tree from the United States; it can grow up to 18-30 metres; the oldest specimens found in the garden are over 350 years old;
24. Elaeagnus angustifolia – Fake ‘oleastro’ or Bohemia Olive tree (Elaeagnaceae): from the western Asia; it can grow up to 10 metres; the oldest specimen of the garden is approximately 70 years old;
27. Eriobotrya japonica – Japanese medlar tree (Rosaceae): from Japan and China; it can grow up to 4 metres; the oldest specimen found in the garden is approximately 120 years old;
31. Aucuba japonica – Aucuba (Carnaceae): from Japan and China; it can grow up to 2-3 metres; found in our garden is also the Aucuba japonica foliis variegatis that features leaves chequered with cream/whitish and light green spots;
32. Vinca major – Periwinkle (Apocinaceae): from Europe and Asia; its purple flower blooms in February-May;
33. Convallaria japonica – Convallaria (Convallariaceae): from Japan and China; it is a grass that grows in the shadow and is damaged extensively by direct sunlight;
34. Hypericum calycinum – St John’s Wort or Hypericum (Clusiaceae): from the Far East; its bright yellow flowers bloom in June-September;
PLANTS DECIDUA (see map of the historic garden and list above)
8. Platanus acerifolia (hispanica o hybrida) – Plane tree (Platanaceae): Decidua tree, hybrid of the P.orientalis and P.occidentalis; it can grow up to 35 metres; the oldest specimen found in the garden is over 350 years old;
10. Taxodium distichum – Swamp cypress (Taxodiaceae): decidua conifer from the south-western United States; it can grow up to 45 metres; the oldest specimens found in the garden are about approximately 280 years old; it is one of the few conifer species loses its leaves in autumn;
12. Fagus sylvatica pendula – Weeping beech (Fagaceae): from Europe; it can grow up to 15 metres; the oldest specimens found in the garden are approximately 300 years old; note the difference in size with the other weeping beech that grows near the century-old one and that is only 75/80 years old;
16. Lagerstroemia indica rubra – Lagerstroemia (Lytraceae): from Japan and China; it can grow up to 3-5 metres; it is one of the few trees that it blooms in late summer. Take note of how its trunk is so smooth that seems without bark; the oldest specimens found in the garden are all approximately 200 years old;
17. Aesculus hippocastanum – Common horse chestnut tree or Indian horse chestnut (Hippocastanaceae): coming from northern Greece and Albania; it can grow to over 30 metres; for the past 15-20 years these trees have been attacked by Cameraria, an insect from the Far-East, whose larvae cause the trees to lose most of their leaves by early June, therefore, forcing it to grow new leaves in summer. This naturally weakens the tree and eventually, year after year can cause the death of the tree. Recently this phenomenon is kept under control by adding ‘drips’ to the trees in early spring containing diluted insecticide (harmless to the tree). This insecticide kills the caterpillars feeding on the leaves with a success rate of 70-80%; the oldest specimens found in the garden are all over 250 years old;
25. Carpinus betulus – Common hornbeam (Betulaceae, Carpinaceae): from central Asia and Europe; it can grow up to 19 metres; these trees form the “Shadow’s Alley” and approximately 70% of them are over 350 years old;
26. Tilia cordata – Wild linden or limetree (Tiliaceae): from Europe, the Caucasus, and Siberia; it can grow up to 30 metres; the oldest specimens found in the garden are all approximately 250 years old;
OTHER PLANTS SPECIES PRESENT IN THE GARDEN
Acer campestre, Acer platanoides ed Acer negando (maple trees), Cupressus macrocarpa (Monterey Cypress), Pinus sylvestris (Silvestre Pine tree), Pinus strobus (White or Strobo Pine tree), Quercus robur (Farnia Oak), Euonymus japonicus (Japanese Evonimo), Ilex aquifolium (Common holly) e Ilex a. ‘Argentea Marginata’, Laurus nobilis (Laurel), Magnolia soulangeana (Magnolia of Soulange), Chimonanthus precox (Japanese or Winter Calycanthus), Prunus laurocerasus (Cherry Laurel), Prunus Lusitanica (Portuguese Cherry tree), Prunus domestica (Plum-tree), Prunus armeniaca (Apricot tree), Prunus avium (Cherry tree), Fraxinus ornus (‘Ornello’ or Manna’s Ash tree), Fraxinus excelsior (Common or European Ash tree), Celtis australis (Nettle tree), Betulla pendula (Whipping Birch), Juglans regia (European Walnut tree), Pterocarya fraxinifolia (Caucasian Walnut tree), Corylus avellana (Hazelnut tree), Castanea sativa (Common Chestnut tree), Zizyphus sativa (Jujube tree), Robinia pseudoacacia (Locust tree or False Acacia), Salix alba (Willow), Ulmus (Elm tree), Phyllirea latifolia (Ilatro comune), Populus alba (White Poplar), Populus nigra (Common or Black Poplar), Populus nigra’Italica‘ (Italian Poplar), Juniperus phoenicea (Phoenicia Juniper), Juniperus chinensis (Chinese Juniper), Corpus sanguinea (Corniolo), Sambucus nigra (Common or Black Elder), Paulownia tormentosa (Paulownia), Cercis siliquastrum (Jude/ Judas tree), Cydonia oblongata (Cotogno), Ficus carica (Common Fig tree), Punica granatum (Pomegranate tree), Malus sylvestris (Wild Apple treeo), Viburnum tinus (Lentaggine o Laurotino), Morus alba (White Mulberrytree), Ailanthus altissima (Ailanto), Sophora japonica (Japanese Sophora), Forsythia (Forsizia), Mahonia “Charity” (Maonia), Osmanthus fragrans (Olea fragrans), Hibiscus syriacus (Ibisco), Phyllostachys nigra (Black Bambù), Gynerium argenteum (Pampas grass), Rubus ulmifolius (Blackberry bush), Rosa sp. (Different species of Roses).