266. Finding Cool Shade On A Summers Day

What to do with myself on a summers day when the temperature is expected to hit the mid-thirties and the humidity to stay below 20% - I decided to seek out the cool calm green shade of the Botanical Gardens just twenty minutes from my apartment.
Situated in the city centre and covering an area of almost 30 acres, the Orto Botanico di Palermo ( Palermo Botanical Garden ) is both a botanical garden and a research and educational institution of the Department of Botany of the University of Palermo.  

The earliest beginnings of the gardens go back to 1779, when the Accademia dei Regi Studi created the chair of "Botany and medicinal properties". A modest plot of land was allocated to develop a small botanical garden dedicated to the cultivation of plants with medicinal benefits, for the twin objectives of general learning and improving public health. However, this initial garden allotment soon proved insufficient for the purposes for which it was intended, and in 1786 it was decided to move to the present site.
Having been developed during the great age of exploration, between the second half of the 19th century and the first decades of the 20th century, the gardens became an important point of reference for the bigger botanical gardens of Northern Europe. Because of Palermo's favourable climate, they transferred a good number of unknown, poorly classified and exotic tropical species there - where they thrived. The gardens are currently home to at least 12,000 different species.



.. a very inviting rest-up spot for the weary wanderer ...

The huge sprawling Ficus macrophylla, which is the emblem of the modern garden, 
was imported - as a small sapling - from Norfolk Island - Australia, in 1845.

.. the pond was seething with tadpoles - come back in a couple of weeks and the place will be alive with frogs ( or toads ... ) ...
... beautiful Lotus ...

  One fascinating aspects of so many different trees in one spot is the wonderful shapes and colours of the various barks ... artworks of mother nature ...
Chorisia speciosa
  Ficus macrophylla
Dracaena draco #1
Caryota ochlandra
Araucaria excelsa
Pinus halepensis
... and in the centre of the gardens - head and shoulders above the rest - and looking very much at home in this foreign land - 
the Granddaddy of all the trees ...

Dioon spinulosum
Cycadopsida Encephalartos

Prosoplis nandubey
Aloe rubrosiolacea
... view of part of the Monti Sicani Range behind Palermo ...

Variegated Oleander 

Araucaria columnaris

Phoenix dactylifera
Dracaena draco #2
Bougainvillea glabra
Ficus macrophylla

Sprekelia formosissima

It was so relaxing away from the lambrettas and the noise of the city - wandering the many cool pathways through the gardens in the broken shade of the towering trees and listening to the cicadas and the rustling of the tiny bright green geckos as they scurried about in the dead leaf mulch ... I didn't want to leave, but needed to get home before the real heat of the day set in and of course for my il reposa ( siesta ) ... most businesses and smaller shops close down in the middle of the day anywhere from 12noon to 4pm in the afternoon when workers and school kids go home for their main meal and a bit of a nap - then the shops stay open until 8pm - me thinks a very sensible idea  ...