The Savoia residence is surrounded by a large English park and by a garden with box hedges and small paths converging on a central fountain. It was designed in two different periods. The former dates back to the XVIII, at the Solaro time: it is the Italian garden established on the terraced ground inside the ancient Medieval walls, according to the architectural rules of symmetry and regularity and the typical geometric shapes of the classical garden. The latter, dating back to the XIX century, was commissioned by Carlo Fe lice of Savoia and based on the project of Xavier Kurten, at that time appointed by Carlo Alberto (Prince of Carignano) director of the Park of Racconigi.
The project, characterized by an English park in the north and west of the castle premises, kept the previous existing designs creating spectacular effects through the use of new naturalistic lines in opposition to the regular and geometric ones of the classica l garden. Therefore, it freely employed the natural features of vegetation and of ground movements, trying to imitate nature and, like the natural landscape, it had to be discovered and appreciated through movement.
Towards the west, beyond the walls, an Egyptian bridge connected it to a large English wood with paths directing towards the Craviano Hill, on which a convent was being built at Carlo Felice’s will. The Park was built in three stages under the Savoia family: the first at the time of Carlo Fe lice; the second in 1833, after his death, at his widow’s, Maria Cristina, will; the third from 1849 with Ferdinanda, Duke of Genoa.
The park can be visited in the different periods of the year: in autumn the reds and yellows of the horse chestnuts, of the plane-trees and of the oaks shine; in spring the blues and azures of the tassel hyacinths and of the periwinkles and the red of the Tulipa oculus solis Saint – Amans tulips, praecox Ten variety, like a royal red carpet, cover most of the undergrowth. in the park an ancient orangery, usually called “La Serra” and restored in 1990, is now used for conferences, meetings and cultural events.
Tulipa oculus solis Saint-Amans
The name “sun’s eye tulip” was given to this species, in1804, by the great botanist Jean Florimont Boudon de Saint-Amans, who had been studying this Mediterranean tulip for a long time. It was brought to Italy and survived, therefore a name was assigned to this special species, then confirmed in 1805 also by another botanist, De Candolle, and by the painter Jean Paul Redouté in his Les Liliacées.
But this mysterious bulb has a more ancient history. Found in the Far East, following the Turkish hordes that considered it as a good luck charm and called it tulban or turban, perhaps because its petals resemble the folds of their distinctive hats, it gradually conquered the entire West, settling especially in Holland. According to its history, in fact, in 1560 one of the greatest botanists of the time, Charles d’Ecluse, (Clusius), started to grow the bright flowers found in Antwerp in the garden of a merchant, one of his neighbours, who had received them as a gift from Istanbul along with the fabrics he had ordered. Since “their variety was a pleasure for the eyes”, he sent several specimens to Royal Gardens, so that they could embellish the beautiful parterres of the major courts in Europe.
They soon became quite popular, so hybrids were also created, including Tulipa oculus solis, which has found its ideal habitat in the vast historical park of Govone and there grew spontaneously.
Ancient documents, dated 1849 and 1852 and written by the gardeners Giovanni Battista and Giuseppe Delorenzi, enable us to identify the different arboreal and floral species grown at the time. In Delorenzi’s catalogue, a remarkable collection of roses is described and hence the idea of creating a rose garden in 2000. The project, established by the Council Authority, the local School and the cultural organization “Govone e il Castello”, was financially supported by the Piedmont Region and opened in 2003. The rose garden is in the park behind the baroque church of the Holy Spirit, on a ground which was already a garden at the time of the Savoia family. It has an extension of about 450 mq and it presents a great variety of ancient roses.