The plants of Negombo

by Marco Castagna

The aim was to combine the roots and the sense of place with modernity, making memory not an empty nostalgia, but a creative resource for the present and the future, a contemporary experience of the identity of the garden as an integral part of the landscape. and at the same time its synthesis. This is also the meaning of the annual appointment of "Ipomea del Negombo", the fair market for rare and amateur plants, simultaneously aimed at recovering plants from the past and researching new species. Negombo is a microcosm, an artificial ecosystem, but always an ecosystem that leaves nature the task of adapting, selecting and self-regulating, evolving over time; it is research in which man meets nature and explores its infinite possibilities and wonders.

The Negombo thermal park is a Mediterranean garden, which houses the presence of plants from Asia, Africa, the Americas, Australia.

After all, Negombo was born as a botanical garden and of this origin it preserves traces and memory in the presence of some plants such as the great ficus that arrived then from Asia and in the botanical research of plants, which lend themselves to being acclimatized without becoming weeds compared to the Mediterranean scrub which remains dominant, while it itself has been reconstructed by restoring plants that were not present or had not survived such as Polygola myrtifolia or False pepper (schinus mollis).

The current vegetation of the Mediterranean landscape is the result of the work of man and of history as well as of nature.

The line that separates natural and cultural moves continuously and natural is for us what has become naturalized, becoming part of our landscape, our history, our roots. Not only do the ecosystems evolve, but the work of man changes the microclimates of a specific place together with the vegetative mantle.The landscape choice of the Negombo park is therefore aimed at creating an ecosystem capable of reproducing and evolving autonomously albeit with the human contribution, and was inspired to create compositions attentive to the bearing, the shape of the stem, the leaves, the colors of the different plants.

Thus at the entrance we find a compact and uniform bed of Macrozamias and agaves. All around, by contrast, olive trees, fruit trees, lemons, citrus fruits, cedars, mangoes and, as a disturbing element, ginko biloba. For the same reasons the cocos plumosa was introduced and on the way of the crags we meet the cycas, the metrosideros, an Australian plant, in perfect assonance with the holm oak and the olive tree, and many shrubs from the various areas of Australia still little known in Italy. But they are all integrated presences in the Mediterranean landscape, which are never exhibited or become dominant with respect to the local shrubs: they can be seen crossing the park, never from afar or from the sea. In fact, in the crags dominate the carob tree, the olive tree, the quecus ilex, the laurel, the maritime pine, as you pass from the garden to the wood that climbs the rock of the mountain, becoming more and more "wild".

The succession of blooms also contributes to this landscape vision, underlining the passage of time and the character of the garden as a living organism in its display of ever-changing faces.

And the flower seeds, coming from the most diverse parts of the world and scattered around Negombo, rely on the creativity of nature with unexpected effects.

Gardens as places of peace, of respect for nature and all of creation are repositories of happiness. There are too few of them everywhere. We would need countless new parks and gardens, open to all, as effective batteries around the world.

Andrè Heller

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