Did you know that most ornamental plants of the National Gardens come from Genova, Italy?
When King Ludwig of Bavaria came to Athens to visit his son (King Otto), he was surprised by the complete lack of green areas in the little town of Athens!
Queen Amalia, consort of King Otto, worked tirelessly to lay out and complete the Royal Gardens. With the help of the great Bavarian architect Friedrich von Gartner, the gardens start to take shape. The aim was to find plants that could flourish on the ancient, relatively dry soil of Attica.
In autumn 1839, the Greek sail ship ‘Phoenix’ sailed from the port of Genova, heading straight to the port of Peiraeus. The ship carried 15,000 ornamental plants!
Thousands of flowers, trees and seedlings from Genovese gardens were brought to Athens and the Bavarian gardener Schmarat, with the help of the Prussian gardener Friedrich Schmidt, gathered more local plants and flowers from the south part of Attica (Sounion). Their vision was to create the most beautiful gardens at the south of Europe.
Queen Amalia planted herself seeds of palm trees that in 1842 she brought from the United States (a genus of palms native to the southwestern US). Most of them still stand tall today!