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The 2014 AGM: 2. The Main Programme, Menton and the Côte d’Azur

by Edith Haeuser
photographs by Edith Haeuser and John Jefferis

Photographs to illustrate the article published in The Mediterranean Garden No 79, January 2015

Four public gardens were visited during the two days of the main programme in Menton.

Serre de la Madone
Edith was particularly interested to see this garden because she had recently been to its creator’s other garden at Hidcote Manor in the UK.

She writes:
“....Lawrence Johnston was a passionate plant collector who travelled to Burma and Yunnan (China’s south-western province with the richest biodiversity in the country), to Kenya and southern Africa, to Mexico and Japan, to Australia and New Zealand, introducing plants which had never been seen in Europe. He would spend the summer at Hidcote and the winter at Serre de la Madone.”


The villa of Serre de la Madone built nearly at the top of the garden and surrounded
by magnificent trees, such as a huge Banksia prionotes on the left


Protea susannae x magnifica 'Susara'


The Moorish patio garden with Nymphaea nouchali var. caerulea
and potted Punica granatum 'Nana'

For more photographs of Serre de la Madone by Louisa Jones click here. Also see a reprint of a review from TMG 49 of Serre de la Madone. Lawrence Johnston’s Garden on the French Riviera, by Louisa Jones.

Hanbury Botanical Gardens, La Mortola
The next garden was equally famous and had its roots in Roman times.

Edith writes:
“The 18 hectares (45 acres) of the Hanbury Botanical Gardens cover the entire promontory of the Capo Mortola. Approximately half of this area is used for the gardens, while on the remaining land the natural vegetation, consisting mainly of Pinus halepensis, has been preserved.”

“In 1867 Sir Thomas Hanbury bought the land and the ruins of a palazzo, built by an Italian family in the 11th century on the ruins of a Roman villa. Sir Thomas, who had made his fortune in China from trading in silk, cotton, and tea, was, like Johnston, a passionate plant collector.”


A breathtaking view from the upper part of the Hanbury Botanic Gardens
with the collection of succulents in the foreground and towering cypresses,
cedars and palm trees leading the eye to the bottom of the promontory


The Hanbury Botanical Gardens feature a fascinating collection of trees


The steep flight of steps, an important axis of the garden

See a reprint of a review from TMG 40 of La Mortola: In the Footsteps of Thomas Hanbury, by Alasdair Moore.

Jardin exotique de Monaco
Edith writes:
This botanical garden was built on a nearly vertical cliff above the port, offering excellent drainage for its collection of about 1000 species of cacti and succulents......... the sun rose higher, and we felt the heat in this almost vertical garden increasing rapidly – a perfect site for succulents.”


The prickly world of the Jardin exotique: in the foreground Euphorbia caerulescens and
Cylindropuntia rosea with its characteristic white thorns, half-hiding the trunk of a Euphorbia grandidens

Jardins Ephrussi de Rothschild
Edith writes:
“Between 1905 and 1912 the Ephrussi de Rothschild family had a villa built that echoed the Renaissance residences of Venice and Florence and a garden inspired by a voyage Béatrice de Rothschild had undertaken. The garden has the form of a prow and from the loggia of the villa – as from the bridge of a ship – you can overlook the entire garden with a view of the sea on three sides. The garden was designed by the famous landscape architect Achille Duchêne (1866-1947), who designed altogether several thousand gardens worldwide. It consists of nine sections, each in a different style: Spanish, Florentine, French, Exotic, Stone, Japanese, Provençal, Rose, and Sèvres. The property now belongs to the Académie des Beaux-Arts de l’Institut de France.”


Jardins Ephrussi de Rothschild: in the Stone Garden, the Cinnamomum camphora tree
underplanted with azaleas and Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle', in the background Camellia japonica.


The waterfall in the Japanese Garden


Another typical feature in a Japanese garden: raked sand around larger and
smaller stones, symbolizing mountains and hills surrounded by water


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