Synopses & Reviews
Overlooking the sea on the Franco Italian Riviera, La Mortola remains one of the most beautiful and foremost gardens in the world, visited by thousands of garden enthusiasts every year. Behind these gardens lies the fascinating story of Sir Thomas Hanbury, an English cloth merchant in China for nearly 20 years before returning to Europe to settle with his wife and fortune. A Quaker philanthropist and great lover of plants, whose honorable dealings with the Chinese during the Taipeng Rebellion made him notable, Thomas Hanbury donated not only Wisley to the Royal Horticultural Society, the preeminent show garden in Britain, but established The Giardini Botanici Hanbury, known as La Mortola in 1867. By the time of his death in 1907 La Mortola was one of the most famous botanical gardens in the world.
Drawing on his own fascination for La Mortola and its plants, in addition to his own experience as Assistant Head Gardener at the revered Tresco Abbey Gardens, Isle of Scilly; gardener and writer, Alasdair Moore traces the footsteps of Thomas Hanbury, a man who is revered in the gardening world, but about whom relatively little is documented generally, in a lively and utterly absorbing book that will appeal to both expert and amateur gardeners.
With access to Hanbury family documents and an expert's knowledge of the copious unusual and exotic plants that La Mortola encompasses, Moore brings to life not only an extraordinary individual, whose legacy remains in gardens throughout the world; but also La Mortola itself, a remarkable garden and its place in the history of nearby Ventimiglia, where Hanbury built schools for local children and in which to this day streets remain named in hishonor.
In 1853, 21-year-old Thomas Hanbury made the long sea voyage from England to war-torn China, as the Manchu Dynasty began to crumble. In Shanghai, a city beset by rebels, greed, vice and opium, Hanbury carved out a great fortune and by 1867 he had acquired a small, dilapidated palazzo in the Italian Riviera village of La Mortola. It was here over the next forty years that Thomas Hanbury was to create the Giardini Botanici Hanbury, known as La Mortola, still one of the foremost and beautiful botanic gardens in the world.
Thomas Hanbury remains one of the outstanding figures of 19th-century horticulture, his legacy includes the gift of the gardens at Wisely to the Royal Horticultural Society. Yet, little generally is known about this Quaker philanthropist and lover of plants who was decorated by both the British and Italian governments. In a compelling book, gardener and writer Alasdair Moore traces Thomas Hanbury's remarkable life and passion for horticulture, examining how a young man from Clapham, London, not only formed the finest private plant collection of his generation, with over 5,000 rare and exotic plants from Africa and Asia alongside native Mediterranean flora, but came to have Italian streets named in his honor.
With unique access to Hanbury's diaries and family documents and drawing on his own gardening expertise and knowledge of La Mortola, Moore follows in the footsteps of Thomas Hanbury; from his formative years in Shanghai to his life in Italy, as that nation was reborn and Thomas battled to create his superlative garden.
Alasdair Moore, gardener and botanical expert follows in the footsteps Sir Thomas Hanbury, and how he came to establish the world famous garden La Mortola, on the Italian Riviera.
In the Footsteps of Thomas Hanbury. Overlooking the sea on the Franco/Italian Riviera, La Mortola remains one of the most famous botanical gardens in the world. Gardener and writer Alasdair Moore traces the footsteps of Thomas Hanbury, a man who is revered in the gardening world, but about whom relatively little is documented, in a lively and utterly absorbing book.