The Cypresses of Mortola - Cupressus sempervirens L.
When Thomas Hanbury bought the Capo Mortola farm to build his garden, cypresses were perhaps the most common trees
In a description of his garden contained in the text of the conference: WALKS AROUND MY GARDEN (1904-5) he described the Mortola farm before its transformation into a Garden as terraces with olive trees, vineyards and over 300 cypresses…!
In the garden there are two important avenues of Cypresses: these are ancient paths preceding the creation of the Gardens and appear in the maps representing the property at the beginning of the 19th century. Cypress Avenue crosses the Gardens from east to west connecting to the path that went up from the Roman Road and was the ancient access avenue to the Palace before the construction of the Napoleonic road, on which the current main entrance to the Gardens is currently located. Another avenue of Cypresses, the Cypress Walk, rises from the bridge over the Roman Road to the Palazzo.
These avenues were for a long time the main axes of the garden. Sir Thomas took care to maintain and restore them, inserting new trees and replacing the sick ones in order to preserve the characteristic features of the place.
The majestic cypresses of the Garden had also impressed some important visitors, authors of interesting descriptions, such as the pharmacologist Friedrich Flückinger, who in a short description of the garden published in 1886, wrote: ... Here too the cypresses recall a long-forgotten cemetery , and in the opinion of the inhabitants the name of the village, Mortola, means burial place.
And also the German botanist Eduard Strasburger in his book "Rambler on the Riviera" (1906) about the Mortola cypresses wrote: ..only the cypresses stand out from the dark mass against the bright evening sky - those secular trees that border the path which leads from the upper part of the garden down to the sea. It has this dark tree, which stands out so straight and austere towards the sky, a very gloomy aspect indeed; or does it arouse sad feelings in us because it has been a symbol of mourning and is so often seen among graves?
Still on the subject of these trees, Strasburger wrote: “Cypress wood was highly valued in ancient times and a large trunk represented a small capital. According to Pliny this is the origin of the custom of planting a cypress when a daughter was born, to ensure her a dowry ”.