Botanical restoration Plans by Paolo Pejrone

After many years, the Royal Gardens are about to return to life, to become not only an example ofbotanical elegance and extravagance, in homage to their glorious past, but also a modern symbol of sobriety and sustainability; they will be a historical garden, but one capable of keeping up with the times. The design of the large parterre, divided into finely cadenced flowerbeds, will remain nearly unchanged: logical and functional, it represents the way gardens were typically conceived by the Habsburg administration of the Biedermeier period. The same basic theme is repeated in each bed, conferring unity and structure to the whole, with patterns created using large groupings of agapanthus, farfugium and iris, plants with evergreen leaves, as well as panicled hydrangeas and autumn-flowering camellias. Every so often, in the center of some of the beds, there is a small grove of dwarf evergreen magnolias, which flower abundantly in summer, while the borders along the avenue leading to the Royal Palace, are filled with Chinese rice paper plants, with enormous velvety grey leaves. Some plants of hybrid continuous-bloom Chinese roses that produce masses of fragrant blooms in spring, and a sprinkling of naturalized bulbs (narcissi and tulips) complete the work. The large pergola, the true, majestic protagonist of the Gardens, supports rare varieties of wisteria, with their thick summer foliage, punctuated here and there by Bignonia ricasoliana, which produces an abundance of attractive pink flowers and glossy green foliage in late summer.
Following the old landscape designs, two romantic areas that have now almost entirely fallen into disrepair will be rebuilt at the ends of the Garden. On its east side, holm oaks will form a soft but thick and compact evergreen screen, with a large niche serving to close the perspective towards the pergola, while on the opposite side there will be a grove of bamboo composed of plants of varying heights and with different types of leaves, forming a sinuous line that encompasses the Greenhouse. In the direction of Fondamenta di San Marco, the existing evergreen screens, essentialfor protecting the garden from the capricious weather of the lagoon, will remain. They will be interplanted with mastic and fragrant clerodendrum, edged on the parterre side with a border of Beschorneria yuccoides and agapanthus. Large terracotta vases holding pomegranate trees, glossy viburnum and bitter oranges will be placed along the balcony that looks onto Rio dei Giardini, to accentuate the idea of a green boundary encircling the garden.
The restoration work being contemplated entails detailed knowledge of the site and profound respect for its history, while being attentive to what the future suggests and to some extent demands, so that the Gardens may become a place of reasoned equilibrium between what has existed, what exists, and what is possible – a living and (once more) lived-in space.