Scenes from an Italian garden


The University of Perugia's medieval garden is located on the site of a Benedictine monastery, San Pietro, that was founded in the 10th century. The garden was designed by Alessandro Menghini, a professor of pharmaceutical botany at the university, as a "hortus conclusus," which sounds like an invention of J.K. Rowling but is actually a garden surrounded by a wall in which medicinal herbs and edible plants often are grown and which was a traditional part of medieval monasteries. Some of the professor's design concepts are something of stretch-an oval lily pond is described as the "basin of cosmogenic ovulation"-but it was a very pleasant place to spend some time and it was nice to see many familiar friends in the garden.
Hypericum calycinum.
Centranthrus ruber, which grows all over Perugia, sometimes seemingly right out of a stone wall.
These chrysanthemum were labeled pyrethrum, a reminder of their insecticidal properties.
Lavender on the cusp of bloom.
Ancient site, modern stairs.
Acanthus. (The plant the spawned the recent Hometalk question about the derivation of one of its common names, bears' breeches.)
Wisteria. (One! Really.)
An ancient olive tree at the center of the upper garden.
The nearly hollow trunk of the olive.
An unidentified, but lovely, hellebore.
I'm not altogether certain, but I believe the fading foliage may be dicentra.
A lovely Adiantum taking advantage of a tough spot.
More unlabeled loveliness, but a Rhus, I believe.
The fantastic foliage of Helleborus candidus.
It's important to remember to always look up in a garden as well as down. This tree was labeled "un cibo per cavalli," or "food for horses."

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