Wandering nurseries: the plain of Lucca (Tuscany/4)

A land rich in history, culture, and natural and architectural beauty, the plain of Lucca is a flat area limited by the Apuan Alps and by Mount Pisano, in the province of Lucca. Among olive groves, vineyards, small villages, historic villas with marvellous gardens (Wandering gardens: the plain of Lucca, camellias and more), this territory also offers many nurseries, precious for their botanical choice. We suggest some of them, located between Lucca and the coast, where you will find collections of sages, roses, exotic plants, ornamental grasses, perennial herbs, camellias and rhododendrons. They are worth a visit in every season, however, in March, during weekends, there are many events revolving around the exhibition “Antiche Camelie della Lucchesia”, on occasion of the blooming of camellias. You will also discover a couple of very interesting artisans. At the beginning of June, furthermore, Forte dei Marmi hosts EvergreenForte, a nice market exhibition of plants and everything relating to the garden.


The map indicates the nurseries and the other locations of the suggested itinerary. For each nursery, we indicate its distance from the others, in order to facilitate you in the choice of the ones to visit and their order.

Salvia sp., Le Essenze di Lea

Le Essenze di Lea,

this renowned nursery established in 1995 by Elisa Benvenuti, is specialised in ornamental sages (more than 400 different ones!) from all over the world and flowering until autumn, but also in oregano, Phlomis, rosmary, thyme and many other Lamiaceae. It provides plants for institutions, research facilities, botanical gardens and historic gardens open to the public. Distance from other nurseries: km 18.5 from Il Giardino Vivace – km 21 from Vivaio Rhododendron – km 20 from Il Posto delle Margherite – km 18 from La Casina di Lorenzo – km 44.5 from Menyanthes – km 55 from Vivaio Corazza.

Verbena bonariensis e cosmee, Il Giardino Vivace

Il Giardino Vivace,  the small yet renowned nursery created by Didier Berruyer and his wife Maria reproduces and cultivates with passion and expertise perennial herbs, ornamental grasses, aromatics, chosen for their resistance to dry climates, among which Pennisetum, Salvia, Cosmos, Stipa, Perovskia and many others. Didier also realises suggestive gardens, light and poetic. One ear ago he perfected the kit “AiuolaVivace”, available also for vases: thanks to it, also people with little experience will be able to create bordures just like his (almost…). Distance from other nurseries: km 4.2 from Vivaio Rhododendron – km 18.5 from Le Essenze di Lea – km 20 from Il Posto delle Margherite – km 9 from La Casina di Lorenzo – km 28 from Menyanthes – km 46 from Vivaio Corazza.

Rhododendron catawbiense, Vivaio Rhododendron

Vivaio Rhododendron, a S. Ginese di Compito (LU): born about 20 years ago out of Andrea Antongiovanni’s passion for rhododendrons and for acid-loving plants in general, it has about 50 very rare botanical species with an unripe or late flowering from June to July and a large choice of hybrids of rhododendrons, also with yellow and orange flowers; they also have collections of deciduous azaleas (about 80 varieties), azalee japoniche, Camellia japonica (including some ancient varieties of the plain of Lucca dating back to the 19th Century) and od Camellia sasanqua. You can also visit the annexed camellia grove “The small Zen garden” at the hedge of the wood, with specimens of Camellias of 2,5 m and new camellias obtained from seeds. Distance from other nurseries: km from 4 Il Posto Delle Margherite – km 21 from Le Essenze di Lea – km 4.2 from Il Giardino Vivace – km 6.3 from La Casina di Lorenzo – km 27 from Menyanthes – km 48 from Vivaio Corazza.

Il Posto delle Margherite

Il Posto delle Margherite, Massa Macinaia (LU): this nice nursery specialises in the reproduction and cultivation of perennial plants and ornamental grasses. The collection is continuously growing; however, when choosing the plants, Valeria Parea prefers the qualities of plants (rusticity, resistance to dry climates), the recovery of old varieties and of “classical visions, with a contemporary and personal touch”. Distance from other nurseries: km 5.2 from La Casina di Lorenzo – km 20 from Le Essenze di Lea – km 20 from Il Giardino Vivace – km 4 from Vivaio Rhododendron – km 22 from Menyanthes – km 42 from Vivaio Corazza.

Calicanthus floridus, La Casina di Lorenzo

La Casina di Lorenzo, Capannori (LU): born out of Davide Picchi’s passion (nurseryman and traveller) it counts more than 1200 different species, among shrubs, vines, herbs, trees, bulbs, mainly tropical or subtropical, unusual or rare, researched and experimented by Davide with infinite curiosity. Recently, he has also created a new collection of species belonging to the flora of Lucca. Visiting the nursery is like entering a jungle of branches, flowers, suggestions and tales. Distance from other nurseries: km 22.5 from Menyanthes – km 18 from Le Essenze di Lea – km 9 from Il Giardino Vivace – km 6.3 from Vivaio Rhododendron – km 5.2 from Il Posto delle Margherite – km 45 from Vivaio Corazza.

Menyanthes Vivaio

Menyanthes Vivaiolocated in Piagetta, on the bank of Lake Massaciuccoli, it was created by Livia Chiappella in order to reproduce local marsh and aquatic plants, but also typical shrubs and arboreal plants, plants for moist and shaded areas, fit for phytodepurations, rewilding and bio-pools. Attention: visits can be made only prior appointment. Distance from other nurseries: km 24.3 from Vivaio Corazza – km 44.5 from Le Essenze di Lea – km 28 from Il Giardino Vivace – km 27 from Vivaio Rhododendron – km 22 from Il Posto delle Margherite – km 22.5 from La Casina di Lorenzo.

Stapelia macowanii conformis, vivaio Corazza (foto del vivaio)

Vivaio Corazza , Pietrasanta (LU): created in 1995, it experiments, cultivates and adds unusual, rare and collectible plants, rustic or tropical shrubs and trees, geophytes, succulents, Araceae, begonias, cactuses, caudiciform, perennial herbs, Gesneriaceae, hoyas, Iridaceae, Saseviera and Stapelia. Attention: visits can be made only prior appointment. Distance from other nurseries: km 5.3 from Ceramiche Poli – km 55 from Le Essenze di Lea – km 46 from Il Giardino Vivace – km from Vivaio 48 da Vivaio Rhododendron – km 42 from Il Posto delle Margherite – km 45 from La Casina di Lorenzo – km 24.3 from Menyanthes Vivaio.


Artisans not to be missed

Ceramiche POli (foto di artigianart.org)

Ceramiche Poli, Pietrasanta (LU): Benedetta Pellizzi and Ivo Poli, both architects, design and create vases, ornaments, fountains, tiles, indoor and garden furniture, decorated with flora and fauna. The drinkers in the shape of lotus flower leaf are very nice.


Recuperando, you will lose yourself there! Created by Guido Frilli at the end of the 1980s, it sells used materials for building renovations, but it also offers ancient architectonic elements, materials for the garden, fireplaces, earthenware objects, original or carefully reproduced by expert artisans. Among the products there are roof tiles, tiles, fireplaces, vases, statues, objects for the garden, wrought-iron objects, gates, furniture and so much more for a catalogue of more than 6400 objects.


Gardens to visit

In the plain of Lucca there are many historic gardens, you will find them in the itinerary Wandering gardens: the plain of Lucca. Meanwhile, we recommend two of them.

Teatro di Verzura, Villa Reale di Marlia

Villa Reale di Marlia: located 8 km away from Lucca, it is an enchanted place, that was the residence of noble families and great patrons. Its history, and that of its inhabitants, is very fascinating, and so is its garden, with a renowned “teatro di verzura”, historic Italian gardens and a romantic park with woods, streams and a lake. Now the park is pet- and family-friendly, and you can spend a beautiful day having a picnic.

Orto Botanico di Lucca

Orto Botanico di Lucca: established in 1820 by Maria Luisa Borbone in the historic centre of Lucca, it includes a large tree grove with exotic trees and shrubs, a small lake, a botanical school, greenhouses with collections of tropical and succulent species, collections of water-loving plants and Mediterranean xerophyte plants, 200 species of rhododendrons and camellias, and a collection of local plants. It hosts many exhibitions and activities during the year.


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