Orticolario 2014: a horticultural show where gardening meets traditions, design and art


Villa Erba, one of the most elegant villas bordering Lake Como, has provided the scenery for the 6th edition of Orticolario, the first Italian horticultural event showcasing contemporary gardens together with flower displays, garden furniture and all things “grow-your-own”.

The Aster flower – star flower – is the theme for this year’s edition, whose meaning according to the plant symbolism, represents light, love, delicacy, contentment as well as unpredictability and insecurity in love relationships. Smell is the sense inspiring the event, through olfactory visions and a journey into odour perception among fragrances, scents and leading to memories and remembrance.

The show featured a wealth of sections: a competition for Creative Gardens, immersive installations such as the Empathy Garden and the synesthetic trail of the main pavilion, the Lario wing dedicated to the orange blossoms, whose scent is believed to engender euphoria, as well as workshops and presentations and 5 “Off-show” garden installations.

The most intriguing experience is provided by the visit to the 10 gardens competing for Best Creative Garden, displaying green designed spaces where planting meets an idea, a concept and art.


Aster-oid, the creation of the Florentine Ludovica Ginanneschi and Meri Iacchi – the name is a word pun – sits in a central location on the lawn in front of the majestic villa; it reproduces the impact of an imaginary asteroid hitting the ground of the planet Earth and producing an explosion of colourful Asters. The green waviness of the ground conceals the vivid blooming core, which becomes perceivable only as the visitors climb on a platform sitting next to the garden: the intended message is that beauty is often hidden in the wrinkles of reality, while the impact with potentially destructive events may disclose unexpected epiphanies.

Aster-oid, explains Ludovica Ginanneschi, is a conceptual garden: “The garden has always represented comfort and delight to human beings. From the Paradise of Persian emperors to public parks of modern cities, we enjoy green spaces to find relief from everyday stress and discomfort, as they make us feel in contact with Nature, its laws and beauty.

In the last few years, some gardens have been designed to play a very different role. A role more in tune with the times, which transforms gardens in a coloured communication medium, suggesting a wealth of meanings. ranging from bold or meditative, to ethical or provocative. Gardens are no longer comforting retreats from the outside world, on the contrary they are outpost from where to make a plea, landscapes defined by proper  languages and very precise significance. The metamorphosis of a concept from an abstract idea to physical and tangible forms is at the heart of every conceptual garden. Its lure is exactly this ability of make an idea alive through the fruition of the space’.


Alice’s NON-Garden, designed by the architects Francesca Turchi and Valeria Erba, is a back-in-time journey into the charm of childhood and the fascination of the imagination: a NON-world bringing the visitor into the fanciful universe of Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland”.

20141005_155152As we enter the garden we follow in the White Rabbit’s footsteps thorough a magical trail made of tea parties in the wood, pottery and flower bunches where aromatic herbs delight the nostrils. As we proceed in our visit we bump into the Mad-Hatter leading us towards the end of the walk where two “meditation seats” are placed under a tree weighing down with picture frames, tea-pots, mirrors and ceramic vases. On one of the table a clay dormouse pops out of a tea-pot as one of the creations of the potter Fabio De Capitani.


Villa Erba in Cernobbio is one of the most important nineteenth century lake villas, which belonged to Carla Erba, mother of Luchino Visconti. The director of masterpieces such as The Leopard, used to spend here his summers as a child, surrounded by cultural and high-society events. This scenery today is ideal for the development of a new concept of gardening which, respecting both traditions and environment, opens up to the experimentation of new languages and visions.


6th Edition

Villa Erba, Cernobbio, Lake Como

3-4-5 October 2014                                                                                        



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