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A garden overlooking the sea

In 1867 in Ventimiglia, the passion for nature of an English family brought to life a botanical garden with plants from the most diverse areas of the world. The Hanbury Botanical Gardens take advantage of the area’s convenient position and particularly mild climate. The expertise provided by botanists, agronomists and landscapers shaped a grandiose garden that is unequaled in Europe both in botanical variety – with 5,800 species of ornamental, medicinal and fruit plants – and for its landscape, thanks to the harmonious juxtaposition of buildings, ornamental elements and cultivated terraces.

The majority of the most significant English gardens on continental Europe can be found in Italy and on the French Riviera in greater numbers than elsewhere. The mildness of the Mediterranean climate allowed plants to be grown outdoors, whereas in the UK they would have survived only in greenhouses. Italy was the favorite destination for English travelers until the end of 1860, when the south of France became more appealing.

The popularity of the Riviera – both French and Italian – at the end of the nineteenth century was due to its mild climate. Bordighera, Hyères and Menton were created as health resorts and the British soon discovered that the local climate was suitable for both gardening and respiratory conditions.

The current Hanbury Gardens were built in two phases: the first was commissioned by Thomas Hanbury, with a predominant taste for collecting and studying exotic plants; during the second phase, attributed to Cecil and Dorothy Hanbury, the aesthetic aspect of the property was underlined and native species valued. In fact, the divide between the two phases was not very marked, since research and scientific activity were always carried out in the garden, and the aesthetics never neglected. The villa remained the heart of the property, the dominant element of the farm, visible from the outside and from the sea.