A signature contemporary garden designed by Russell Page with a strong feminine imprint, La Mortella was commissioned by Sir William Walton, the great 20th-century English composer and his Argentine wife Susana, who was the true inspiration behind this little Eden.

In 1949, the Walton family chose to move to the island of Ischia. They built a residence at the foot of Mount Zaro, on a site characterized by an extensive lava flow. Planting work began in the garden in 1956, before any work had started on the house. The harsh trachyte soil was transformed into an exuberant and exotic botanical garden remarkable for the variety of species the composer brought back from the places he toured all over the world. The garden contains some 3,000 different species of plants, some of which are rare, including the Chorisia speciosa from Argentina, Australian ferns, and araucarias from Norfolk Island. In his design, Russell Page gave a primary role to water as the connective element of the various parts of the Bog Gardens, and the water gardens with fishponds, canals and fountains. The garden’s adaptation to the site and its natural morphology is one of multi-talented Page’s signature features, especially evident in the “Valley”, which over the years has taken on a subtropical character. The garden’s atmosphere of exuberant exoticism, and the sourcing of scents and colours was down to the tenacious work of Susana and local gardener Maria Esposito. Lady Walton only began work on the upper portion of the garden, the “Hill,” in 1983, the year that her composer husband passed away. If the “Valley” is a lush, humid enclosed garden, swathed in Mediterranean vegetation, the “Hill” is bright and open to the landscape. Many architectural elements with symbolic connotations converge in this garden: the Thai Hall, the Temple of the Sun, the Crocodile Waterfall, the Nymphaeum, the Greek Theatre and, finally, William’s Rock, a trachytic boulder where the musician’s ashes are interred.


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Great Women, Great Gardens

Susana Valeria Rosa Maria Gil Passo is the soul of La Mortella gardens and a unique figure in the world of gardening.

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Author's Gardens of the 1900s

Author of countless gardens in various parts of the world, from his native Britain to France, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Persia, Egypt, the United States, Mexico and Chile.

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