In spite of its rocky and steep terrain, the coastal landscape of Liguria, from its western to its eastern Riviera, has allowed the creation of gardens overlooking the sea. As early as the end of the 18th century, British aristocrats discovered the qualities of Mediterranean winters. But between the late 19th and the early 20th century this trend took on new connotations, especially in the villas of Ventimiglia, Bordighera and San Remo.
English, German and Russian travellers built their “winter houses” on the Riviera of eternal spring. Particular care was put in the acclimatisation of great collections of exotic vegetation imported to Europe from all over the world, alternating with local Mediterranean trees and shrubs.
For Edouard André, a significant example of this type of landscaping is the palm tree garden annexed to the villa designed by Charles Garnier in Bordighera. The designer’s choice of site for a villa was connected to the months of the year the owner intended to spend on the Riviera, to the view and to the search for a terrain suitable for the vegetation; all elements that can be found in the Hanbury gardens in Ventimiglia pleasingly blending an interest for botanical collecting and for acclimatisation with over 6,000 specimens of different plants showcasing a variety of shapes and chromatic contrasts.