Botanical Conservatory & Gardens of Pomona: a treasure of biodiversity in the heart of the Valle d’Itria

Biodiversity, a wealth handed down from generation to generation and now reached us!

When we talk about biodiversity, the images that emerge in our mind are many, animals, plants, flowers, in short all the infinite variety of life that inhabits the Earth. Fruit of billions of years, influenced by natural processes and more and more often by human intervention, biodiversity is today more than ever to be defended and protected!

For this reason, we could not forget the world day of biodiversity – which is celebrated on May 22nd – by telling you about a real treasure that is located in the heart of the Valle d’Itria, the Botanical Gardens “Gardens of Pomona”!

An incredible place where love and care of nature have found a home, a place where a botanical heritage of enormous value is preserved, an almost hidden place, which opens the lungs and the mind as soon as you set foot. The Conservatory is the fruit of a man’s passion – Paolo Belloni – who has dedicated himself to the research and conservation of various varieties of ancient fruit plants from all over the world. Thanks to his work, many plants that you can admire in the conservatory have been saved from extinction!

The Botanical Conservatory is located in the heart of the Valle d’Itria, at the crossroads of the villages of Cisternino, Locorotondo and Martina Franca, more precisely in the Figazzano district, about 2 kilometers from the Water Cycle Route.

Dedicated to the Latin goddess of gardens and orchards, the goddess Pomona in fact, the conservatory is a concentrate of biodiversity: in the ten hectares a thousand fruit trees, minor fruits and aromatic plants dwell. The Conservatory is open every day and it is almost always possible to book a guided tour. You can book directly from the website by filling in the appropriate form.

Among the collections present the most valuable is certainly that of the Ficus carica, composed of about 600 cultivars among Afghan figs, Bosnians, French, Portuguese, Albanians, Israelis and of course Italian and Puglia. It is no coincidence that it is among the most important in Europe and in the Mediterranean basin, in terms of quality and variety. Then we find an important collection of Pomegranates, Citrus fruits, Apples and Pears. And also grapes sweet & sour, cherries, plums, apricots, almonds, amelanchier, quinces, mulberries, jujubes, rowanberries and carnelians, persimmons, kiwi, walnuts, pistachios and hazelnuts with the most varied shapes and sizes.

Walking inside the Conservatory is an explosion for the senses: incredible scents and colours follow one another as you venture into the garden.

You will find, for example, sage plants that smell of pineapples or more popular plants like liquorice, citronella, helichrysum, Chinese and Thai lemon grass, rue, melissa, camphor, among others.

Surely the part of the Pomona Gardens that excites us the most is the area at the centre of the Conservatory where, surrounded by a lavender labyrinth, the Nagasaki persimmon grows. This plant has a magnificent history, it is in fact “daughter” of a seedling that escaped the atomic bomb and that, Masayuki Ebinuma, arborist of the place, began to treat after the atomic bombing.

The arborist succeeded to the point of obtaining second-generation seedlings to donate to the children visiting the city, so that they could treat them as witnesses of peace and life, capable of overcoming death. In 1995 the contemporary artist Tatsuo Miyajima became aware of the initiative and began to take it around the world, looking for places of peace and “adoptive parents” who could take care of the map and the memory of what happened. The Botanical Gardens “Gardens of Pomona” is one of these places, and it is easy to see why we like this place so much.

The Botanical Conservatory, thanks to the passion and commitment of those who live there, is a fascinating place where you can see and even touch the biodiversity, a real asset for future generations.

If we have intrigued you and would like to visit the Conservatory, we advise you to take a guided tour with Paolo Belloni! Thus, you will embark on a memorable journey through biodiversity that will not disappoint you!

If instead you want to amplify your experience in this place you can do it: The Pomona Gardens, in fact combine nature conservation with low impact tourist accommodation. You have several possibilities to stay overnight in the Conservatory: there are in fact three apartments and a hostel, which has 14 beds and a large kitchen and is included in the Albergabici circuit.

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