BOTANICAL CONSERVATORY

I giardini di Pomona

—Heritage for future generations

Pomona, Goddess of gardens and fruit orchards, found a home in the heart of Valle d’Itria, half way between the towns of Locorotondo, Cisternino and Martina Franca, not far from the Adriatic Sea. The botanical conservatory I Giardini di Pomona, named after the Latin goddess, is a biodiversity haven hosting literally more than a thousand different ancient fruit varieties from all over the world and partially saved from extinction. The ten hectares covered by the conservatory are part of a fascinating landscape and are entirely run following organic methods, joining conservation purposes with low-impact tourism.

The main collection dedicated to the species Ficus carica includes 600 different plant varieties, among Afghan, Bosnian, French, Portuguese, Albanian, Israeli and of course Italian and Apulian figs, all peacefully growing next to each other. For its quality and number of varieties this is this is one of the most important collections in Europe and the Mediterranean.

Besides the fig collection there are several others: pomegranates, namely Punica granatum, including both ornamental and edible varieties; apples and pears (for a total of thirty varieties- to name just one, the Api Etoilé, which was reintroduced in Italy thanks to Pomona’s efforts). Citruses (lemons, oranges, grapefruits, mandarins, bitter oranges and Poncirus trifoliata) – already collected by Cosimo III De’ Medici – are represented by an especially extravagant and beautiful jewel collection.

Walking through the gardens one can also find table grapes, sweet and sour cherries, damsons, apricots, almonds, amelanchier, quinces, mulberries, jujubes, service berries and cornels, persimmons, kiwis, walnuts, pistachios and hazelnuts of the most varied shapes and sizes. Specific plots and rows are dedicated to the so-called minor fruits or small fruits. Along the rows, in-between the main trees, aromatic plants are planted in open ground – constantly pursuing the goal of increasing the species’ biodiversity. Along the paths a wide range of different varieties of rosemary, thyme, sage, mint and hyssop, artemisia and summer savoury can be admired. Moreover there are several quite well-known plants, which are not too widespread, like: liquorice, Helichrysum, Chinese and Thai lemon grass, rue, lemon balm and camphor.

The Nagasaki persimmon (kakitreeproject.com), placed in the middle of the most fertile plot of the gardens, is the sapling of a tree which was found amidst the rubble having thus survived the 9th August 1945 bombing in Japan. The tree grows surrounded by a lavender labyrinth – symbolizing the winding, and at the same time colourful and scented, path to peace.

Last but not least, test plots of permaculture and dryland farming can be examined and understood in the growing food forest. The latter was developed following the swale model and is located just beside the water accumulator created to interrelate with the dry-wall system and plants’ ability to distribute water.

The botanical conservatory I Giardini di Pomona’s main purpose is the conservation of ancient fruit varieties, selected by peasants through the millennia, for future generations and the promotion of biodiversity. I Giardini di Pomona are open to experimenting and researching, as well as to educational programs on topics such as: eco-sustainability, dryland farming and biodiversity. It is a real, live catalogue of the good practices and technologies currently available for the durable conservation of life on the planet.

PAOLO BELLONI

Founder of Pomona Onlus

Where are
I giardini di Pomona?

The Botanical Conservatory I giardini di Pomona is located in Puglia, in the heart of the Itria valley – the Trulli valley – in the countryside between Locorotondo, Cisternino e Martina Franca.

To reach the Pomona gardens, look for, on your navigator, “Conservatorio botanico I giardini di Pomona, Cisternino, Brindisi“.

The complete address is: contrada Figazzano 114, 72014 Cisternino (Brindisi).

Conservatorio botanico I giardini di Pomona, Cisternino, Brindisi, Italia

Opening hours & Tours

The Pomona gardens are open all year round, every day of the week (from 9 am to 1 pm and from 4 pm to 8 pm) except Thursdays. In particular, guided tours of the Gardens take place every day of the week except Thursday. The guided tour can last up to 120′.

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