S. Catara, D. Romano, A. Cristaudo
The complex history of Sicily, with its centrally strategic position in the Mediterranean made it an important crossroads of civilization, and also influenced the use of ornamental plants in historical gardens. However, very few studies have been carried out on these typically small gardens. Some years ago a research was started on the characteristics of such gardens in Eastern Sicily. Over 50 gardens were analyzed most of them from the late 19th and early 20th century. A tailor-made methodology was used to look more closely at the biological and agronomical traits of the plants in these gardens so as to understand them holistically.
The results show that these gardens are characterized by high plant diversity despite the small surface devoted to plant cultivation. In fact 509 taxa of ornamental plants have been identified belonging to 334 genera and 125 botanical families. About 88% of the garden species were exotic while the remainder were natives. 84% of taxa were present in less than 20% of the gardens; 36% of species were present in single gardens. The plants are often characterized by exceptional hardiness and good adaptability to the Mediterranean environment. For about 18% of the species there were various cultivars all of which are commercially defunct underlining the interest in these gardens as a source of germplasm. There were also many edible plants creating a close tie between the ornamental and utilitarian role of the garden.
Catara, S., Romano, D. and Cristaudo, A. (2010). THE CHARACTERISTICS OF HISTORICAL GARDENS OF SICILY. Acta Hortic. 881, 973-978
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2010.881.162
Green space, biodiversity, germplasm, ornamental plants, exotic

Acta Horticulturae