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Annual General Meeting 2015, Ischia: the Main Programme
by Edith Haeuser
photographs by Edith and William Haeuser

The twenty-seventh General Assembly of the MGS was held on the Italian island of Ischia in 2015; more particularly it was hosted at the garden of La Mortella at the kind invitation of the curator and MGS member Alessandra Vinciguerra. Travellers attending the General Assembly and taking part in the programme of visits organised around it ended their journeys from all over the world on a ferry boat boarded at Naples harbour.

Edith writes: “ …. the ferry glided into the harbour of Ischia Porto: pastel-coloured houses perched on the hillside, glowing green umbrella pine trees towering over the gardens and lush vegetation everywhere.

 View from Castello Aragonese to Ischia Ponte.

Day two of the programme saw a visit to the Archaeological Museum, in the village of Lacco Ameno on the north-west side of the island.

Edith writes: “The Greek artefacts in this museum are mainly owed to the efforts of Giorgio Buchner, a German archaeologist (1914–2005) with an Italian mother, who finished his studies in Italy and settled on Ischia in 1943. Ten years later he discovered in one of the graves in the Greek necropolis near Lacco Ameno what was to be called Nestor’s Cup (8th century B.C.), a lovely drinking bowl with an inscription in the early Euboean form of the Western Greek alphabet, to date the oldest written reference to the Iliad.”

Two elegant lekythoi (oil jars for ointments), 8th century B.C.

Then on to La Mortella, the famous garden created by Susana,COMMA Walton the wife of Sir William Walton.

Edith writes: As soon as we walked through the gate we found ourselves in an overwhelming, subtropical world, a paradise of shade and humidity, of innumerable nuances of green, an exuberant feast of foliage and textures. At first I was bewildered, not knowing where to look, just as I am now at a loss for words to describe it. I looked up at huge trees that seemed to touch the sky, as I had hardly ever seen in Europe: a Ceiba speciosa close to the entrance and a Ginkgo biloba, that most ancient of trees, and an Erythrina caffra. But no, I had better look down: what fantastic underplanting!”

Russell Page's rivulet connecting an upper with a lower fountain; on the right Anemone × hybrida ‘Honorine Jobert’, underplanted with Liriope muscari 'Big Blue' in the Valley Garden.

The tropical zone with cyatheas, Syagrus romanzoffianum and Phoenix roebelenii. In the central background an epiphytic Platycerium bifurcatum,COMMAtomention just a few of an immense number of plants. Elevated sprinklers keep this part of the garden very humid.

One Nymphaea nouchali var. caerulea was flowering in its magical, intense blue.

Dark-stemmed Colocasia esculenta in one of the numerous ponds; in the background Arenga engleri

In the foreground Cyperus papyrus and Tetrapanax papyrifer; along the pathrich underplanting with bromeliads, Zantedeschia aethiopica, giant leaves of Alocasia macrorrhizos, Philodendron imbe climbing up a trunk, red blossoms of Odontonema tubaeforme (syn. O. strictum)

'Maya' and Cycas circinalis, blue blossoms of Thunbergia grandiflora, in the background silvery-leaved Yucca rostrata

Edith writes: “We walked higher and higher and finally reached a plateau. Suddenly we were engulfed by Mediterranean light, and over the canopies of all the many tall trees we could see the town and harbour of Forio. The difference to the lower part of the garden, the so-called Valley Garden, could not have been greater: we were surrounded by cistus plants, euphorbias, Echium candicans, Mediterranean oak trees, Pistacia lentiscus, Arbutus unedo, olive trees, a group of Salvia coerulea (syn. S. guaranitica), an Acacia decurrens diffusing a lovely scent, and crassulaceous plants. The water element is omnipresent in the upper garden too, this time with a much larger pond and a mass of impressive Nymphaea lotus with their characteristic huge round leaves floating on the water like plates. Their flowers would open only after dark. The stream that gently flows across this part of the garden is also richly planted with water-lilies and lined with water-loving plants, such as the dark-stemmed Colocasia esculenta.”

The mediterranean Upper Garden, flooded with light

Nymphaea lotus  and Aponogeton distachyos, also in the Upper Garden
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