Viburnum tinus is among stars of the Mediterranean spring. Its dark green leaves contrast fragrant pentamerous flowers in white or pale pink, evolving into dark blue fruit resembling small pearls. Yet this obvious picture from maquis has its invisible side .It is called domatium, after Latin word domus, for home. Domatia are microscopically small chambers at the under sides of the evergreen leaves. Plant grows domatia to host mites. In this way Viburnum tinus can be seen as a botanical skyscraper with many tiny apartments for arthropod neighbors. Imagine a little mite calling her friends to come over for a party at her condo! I am kidding, it only fascinates me to recognize there is another life underlying the botanical beauty of the plant we can see with our eyes. It is like a parallel world. Only the question remains, are the mites, or are we , at the right side?
Medici from Florenz were a powerful family. Their wealth (they owned Medici bank, one of biggest and most truthful banks in Europe at that time), connections (family gave 4 popes,their daughters married to European courts) and fact that they themselves become royal house enabled them to politically dominate the region from late 14-th century up to the 18-th century.They were generous patrons to the artists of the time and spent huge amounts of money building palaces, fortresses, gardens.
It is obvious that it was in the spirit of renaissance to invest in lavish buildings with picturesque gardens around,to study humanities and collect art.But what was the reason , that on December 1, 1545, Cosimo I de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany established botanical garden in Florenz -, “Giardino dei Semplici“ (medicinal herb garden)]just after Pisa and Padova had got their botanical gardens? What made him think this is important, as there were yet only two botanical gardens in the world? After all, he could build just one more palazzo with beautiful garden .
I guess the reason lies in his grandmother Caterina Sforza, for he inherited passion for alchemy from her.She dedicated her last years of life to her children, grandchildren and her alchemical experiments.She had curiosity (or need?) to experiment in alchemy, this were in a way natural sciences .From here is just a step towards wish to investigate natural phenomena, botany included.
As enough passion to investigate nature and enough knowledge to distinct observations of nature as something important were needed (among with enough money) to set a botanical garden in 14-th century-do we today have enough passion, knowledge and money to recognize botanical gardens as important humanistic legacy for future generations?