Sunday, July 5, 2015

The Iris Garden: Premio Firenze -- Florence, Italy, Part II

Part II: The Iris Garden
By Andi Rivarola

Iris pallida and olive trees at the Prunetti Farm in Chianti area
Various activities and initiatives have taken place during the life of Premio Firenze and some of the most important to are: 

  • In 1963, the planning and development of the "First International Iris Symposium" 
  • Collaborated since 1997 with the Department of Plant Biology of the University "La Sapienza" in Rome by participating in meetings and seminars.
  • Collaborated since 1998 with the University "La Sapienza" in Rome and The Lynnean Society in London to promote the Iris International Conference "Iris & Iridaceae: Diversity and Methodology."
  • In 2006, the planning and development of the "Second International Iris Symposium."

Winner of the 2012 Competition "Cheyenne My Dog" by Marucchi
Premio Firenze also took part in exhibitions and specialized events in the field of landscape and gardening, organized exhibitions, courses  in hybridization, courses for judges and lectures in schools.

2012 Firenze Competition Signs 
The Main Garden

The Iris Garden was set up on a hilly land previously cultivated but now surrounded by olive trees as well as other plants of the native Tuscan collections including: cypress trees, Judas trees (Cercis siliquastrum L.), strawberry trees (Arbutus unedo L.), laurel (Laurus nobilis L.) and some varieties of maples. Irises are accompanied by roses, and also bushes to highlight paths and walkways. But it is the iris plants and their variety of forms and colors that almost completely cover the garden and when they are in full bloom turn it into a colorful landscape. The vast majority of irises are tall bearded (almost 3000), but there are also intermediate, border and dwarf irises. The international competition variety has practically guaranteed continued improvement and renovation of the main iris collection, making it one of the largest and interesting in the world.

Judges in the Garden - Zdenek Seidl, Jill Bonino, Laura Bassino, Gisela Danthe, Augusto Bianco

Ponte Vecchio and River Arno, Florence
The garden also contains Siberian irises, Pacific Coast Native, spurias, and around the pond area there are some Louisiana, pseudoacorus and Japanese irises.

Bearded and beardless species irises typical in the region are represented by iris pallida, iris germanica, iris florentina, iris setosa, iris unguicularis, and iris ochroleuca 

There are numerous collections of historic irises in the garden among which we should mention:

  • The collection of the American Dykes Medal Winners since 1927 to today. 
  • Some historic irises from the Presby Memorial Garden in Montclair, NJ.
  • Historic irises from the Prague Botanical Garden, the Czech Republic.
  • A full collection of plants of the first and second prize winners of the international competition since 1957.
  • And also a selection of all the plants that participated in the competition, organized by years, from the first competition to date.

A part of the garden was reserved for ARSIA, a local Tuscan agency focused on development and innovation in the agriculture and forestry industry, and the plants included were chosen for their conservation of genetic material of the genus iris.

Valerio Romano, Director of the Firenze Competition, in the Garden

The Garden at Villa Gamberaia

Note: This article contains information originally shared online in Italian by Saverio Pepe, a resident of Florence, who kindly gave permission to use his material and images for this blog post. The pictures on Part II are all from Jill Bonino who participated in Premio Firenze as a judge in 2012. 

Translated by Andi Rivarola 

If you missed Part I

1 comment:

  1. Wow, Andi, what a great article! The information and lovely pictures were especially nice--thank you!!


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