“A beautiful garden doesn’t need to be big. It needs to be the realisation of your dream even if it is only a couple of square metres wide and located on a balcony”
(Neil Mc Eacharn)
The Botanic Gardens of Villa Taranto are located in Pallanza, on the western shore of Lake Maggiore, 42 km from Borgomanero.
The gardens of Villa Taranto were designed by Captain Neil Mc Eacharn, who bought the property from the Marquise of Sant’Elia in 1931 to transform it into an English garden.
The name was chosen to honour the memory of one of the captain’s ancestors, Marshal McDonald, who was appointed Duke of Taranto by Napoleon.
The captain’s desire to recreate a corner that reminded him of his native Scotland had to be combined with the botanical requirements of plants that were unique in Europe, and accustomed to a different climate from that of Italy. For this reason, an innovative irrigation system was built to pump water directly from the lake into a reservoir and then spread it throughout the property.
Fountains and water features, terraced gardens, a winter garden, a marsh garden, pools for water lilies and lotus flowers were created. The impressive project was completed only nine years later, in 1940.
At the start of the Second World War, Mc Eacharn was forced to leave Italy. He donated the property to the State, on condition that no visits were allowed. At the end of the war, the captain returned to his beloved garden, and in 1952 he decided to open it to the public.
Mc Eacharn died twelve years later and was buried in a chapel built in the garden according to his wishes.
The management of the gardens then passed to the Villa Taranto Botanic Gardens ‘Capt. Neil Mc Eacharn’, that continues to preserve and promote the gardens worldwide.
The botanical heritage of the Gardens of Villa Taranto is immense: it includes about 1,000 non-native plants and about 20,000 varieties and species of exceptional botanical value.
From the alleys of azaleas, camellias, maples and rhododendrons to the gardens with more than three hundred varieties of dahlias and the greenhouses where the famous water lily Victoria cruziana is grown among tropical and subtropical plants. Among the rarer species are Dicksonia antarctica and Davidia involucrata; the more common species include eucalyptus, magnolias, michelie, tulips, lotus flowers, heathers, dwarf asters and hydrangeas.
The Gardens are open to the public, from April to October, since 1952. The Villa cannot be visited, as it is the seat of the Prefecture of Verbano – Cusio – Ossola.