21February 2018

Gardens of the Italian Lakes

Steven Desmond MA FLS

There are many illustrious gardens on the shores of Lakes Como and Maggiore in the mountainous far north of Italy. The ones described in this lecture include the Villa Cicogna Mozzoni, with its 16th-century parterre and water staircase; Isola Bella, a baroque extravaganza on an island in the middle of an alpine lake; Villa Melzi and Villa Carlotta, two lakeshore gardens made by rival Napoleonic grandees; and the Villa San Remigio, a garden created by two Edwardian lovers, one Irish, one Neapolitan, as a kind of alfresco theatre for celebrating their love of art and nature.

These considerable achievements, and others, are set in a climate ideal for garden-making among some of the world’s most glorious scenery where Wordsworth, Shelley, Liszt and Bellini found inspiration. It could work for you!


Steven Desmond MA FLS

Steven Desmond is a chartered Horticulturalist with a special interest in the historic gardens of Britain and Europe. During a long and varied career of practical and academic experience he has been a professional gardener, lecturer, examiner and consultant.

Steven now divides his time between writing for Country Life, and lecturing for a wide range of audiences including Oxford University and The Arts Society. He frequently leads specialist garden and architectural tours in Britain and Ireland, France, Germany and Italy. His book Gardens of the Italian Lakes was published in 2016.

Recommended reading:
• Hobhouse Gardens of Italy (Mitchell Beazley)
• McLeod The Best Gardens in Italy (Lincoln)