Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Ninfa .. Flora and Fauna of a Protected Landscape

Ninfa ... Conservation of a Protected Landscape
Safe harbor for 132 species of birds, pure lake waters,
and a Pontine marshland habitat.
Ninfa's 100,000-hectare property is accorded utmost respect by the governing Roffredo Caetani Foundation & curator, Lauro Marchetti. With the dawn of the 21st century, to care for the land is a primary consideration: Ninfa's historic landscape of treasured flora and fauna is in many ways unique. Thankfully, I had planned well in advance to visit Ninfa, and it was my good fortune to meet Dirrettore Marchetti and his charming wife, Stella.
The rain began, then stopped, then fell lightly once again as I strolled through the organically maintained gardens with Signora Marchetti.
Located 20 km from the sea, Ninfa is situated at the base of the Lepini Mountains, and therefore protected from harsh winds. The gardens emerge as an idyllic natural setting. Yet, at the same time, the lush plantings are a resonant reminder of of the loving touch and prescient planning of the keen-sighted garden-makers of the past.
The restored castle tower overlooks magnificent architectural evergreen pines, playing off flowering cherries, aristocratic magnolias, and the contorted limbs of mature maples. The atmosphere felt blessed as we explored pathways, coming upon long vistas of gently meandering streams flanked by an alliance of roses and rhododendrons, self-sown mahonia, and the lavish foliage of gunnera.

Ninfa: Small Books of Great Gardens
Text by Lauro Marchetti and Esme Howard - Photos by Claire de Virieu

The eye alights upon a banana grove in a sun-drenched clearing:
A microclimate warmed by venerable stone walls and ruined towers.
An appointment called the Marchettis to Rome, but before they departed. I had the opportunity to talk with Lauro Marchetti about a project to extend the gardens, creating a spacious nature reserve for the abundant wildlife.
As I proceeded to walk alone, I found myself wishing that I were a resident nymph,
able to spend intimate hours on the splendid property...

cavorting with hedgehogs, or romping through the spring-fed bamboo forest.

Conservation of Ninfa's unique gardens and vast landscape is of great concern.
Photos and Text Copyright © Alice Joyce

Ninfa opens to the public on a limited basis, offering guided tours.


  1. Wow, Alice I sincerely hope that this isn't the last in your series- I'm fascinated and you've got me wanting more!

  2. I love how good design lasts for years. The garden has beautiful 'bones' and it is so wonderful that is a refuge for wildlife. Thank you for sharing.

  3. How fortunate to stroll the gardens with Signora Marchetti! That must have been truly special. Ninfa echos the romance of another era. Wonderful photos!

  4. Gorgeous gorgeous post! Brilliant beuaty and awe! I so enjoyed this! Lovely!

  5. I absolutely love that wall in the seventh(?) photo down! I am wracking my brain trying to think of how I can craft one myself. LOL What an enchanting garden.

  6. I too wished that I was a nymph or a sprite or a fairy in this garden. Such a lovely enchanting scene.

  7. Dear Alice, How wonderfully romantic you make this sound. Your words and pictures evoke the very spirit of what I imagine to be a very special place.

  8. F-A-B-U-L-O-U-S !!

    Thanks and best wishes


  9. Thanks for sharing these images of a rightly legendary garden - beautiful!

  10. Absolutely gorgeous! You can almost see nymphs sunning themselves on the rocks and structures here. What a fabulous tour this must have been!

    Thanks for stopping by my blog and introducing yourself. I look forward to seeing more of your travels.

  11. Enchanting, indeed! Thank you so much for taking us there. Pamela

  12. Lovely post, looks magical. Stone runes in a garden can be so magical. There is nothing like sitting out in a beautiful garden that is surrounded in old structures, it really lets your imagination run wild as you get a real sense of history.

  13. Alice, What a fantastically beautiful, romantic, ancient, enchanting garden!
    Thank you for this tour~~gail

  14. Alice, thanks for visiting my blog and putting your nice comments over there. I'm very pleased to meet you. You have a very nice blog, please keep it up. Have a nice day :)