The “Rezia” Alpine Botanical Garden is located at an altitude of 1350/1400 m a.s.l., generally on a calcareous, coarse soil. This condition required a special amendment in order to allow the establishment and growth of plant species from different substrata (i.e.: acidic soil) and elevations.
In order to use the whole surface for plant exposition, in the rockier areas of the garden it was necessary to create artificial terraces for soil addition and stairs and paths for an easy and safe access for both visitors and gardeners.
Rezia Alpine Botanical Garden clusters plant species in four main sections (with 64 sectors overall), on an ecological and utilization basis as well as geographical distribution. These sections are: 1) Flora from Stelvio National Park; 2) Phytogeographical collections: Flora from other Alp sectors and from other mountain ranges; 3) Taxonomical collections: 4) Arboretum.
In 1979, thanks to Mr. Giovanni Fornaciari, the creation of the “Rezia” Alpine Botanical Garden began, and later opened in 1982. It is located in municipality of Campello, above Bormio, at the foot of Reit Peak (3049 m a.s.l.) and its purpose was to replace and restore an old cave.
Since 1996 the Garden has been managed by ERSAF – Direzione Parco Stelvio, who replaced the previous organization.
The main aim is to protect and preserve the richness and biodiversity of the local flora, endangered by recent environmental changes (land use and climate change) and by anthropogenic development. An example of such a conservational aim was the successful reintroduction in the Garden of Caltha palustri, which had been extinct in the Stelvio National Park (where it was present only in one station, near Lago di Fraele), and then successfully reintroduced to the garden in 1998.
The Alpine Garden is important touristic attraction, and important for both environmental education and naturalistic photography. Moreover, it is a safe storage place for seed and reproductive materials (both sexual and vegetative) of rare, vulnerable or endangered species. Here they are protected and preserved from environmental threats.
The staff includes employees of the Stelvio National Park consortium. The Garden is tended to by a staff of two: a horticulture/technical manager who coordinates the Garden’s activity, such as the seasonal and daily work plan and the interaction with the society’s manager (Stelvio National Park organization); and a full time employee who deals with the pantograph and ordinary maintenance of the garden. Furthermore, the staff is assisted by a few seasonal personnel: four/five gardeners to clean, weed and prune the plants and maintain the paths, and two people to sell tickets and give informative material, as well as to help harvest and process seeds.[/toggle] [toggle title=”Ecological and taxonomical collections”]
FLORA OF STELVIO NATIONAL PARK – Species from the Stelvio National Park are the most represented and abundant in the garden. They are divided on an ecological and phytosociological basis, in 31 sectors, each of which includes species from the same plant community (plant association).
PHYTOGEOGRAPHICAL COLLECTIONS – This section hosts the most representative plant species of the Alps and other mountain ranges on a European and global scale. The species are grouped together on a geographical basis.
TAXONOMICAL COLLECTIONS – This section is a systematic collection of species grouped for genus. For example most species of the Leontopodium, Dianthus, Gentiana, Potentilla and Saxifraga genus are represented here, along with many others.
ARBORETUM – This section hosts tree species from Stelvio National Park, Europe and the world. Because most of these are slow growing species, the section is still under completion.[/toggle] [toggle title=”Activities and projects”]
In summer the garden provides educational activities and didactical laboratories, which are also available in English, if required. Usually, these activities take place in any weather condition due to the presence of buildings and other facilities.
GUIDED TOURS Free entrance – no reservation is needed. From early July to the end of August: On Tuesdays and Thursday, from 10:30am guided tours of the Alpine Garden.
As an example, here are the laboratory titles from previous seasons:
The Pollination Game: One Flower to One Pollinator.
Painting with flowers.
The Photosynthesis Game.
Flowers and Roots Eaters: Insects or Children?
The Tree’s Story: Ring Width and Counting.
The Pollution Game
Some of the special events were:
DISCOVERY GARDEN – Cooperation and Strategies for Reproduction
Interactive visit and investigation on pollination.
BUILD YOUR “BUG HOTEL”
Laboratory activities for children and adults.
We built a shelter together for several insect species that helps them overcome the cold winter season and acts as a nursery for the new offspring.
This laboratory was dedicated to the “small flying mammals”: the bats. Through the utilization of Bat-Detector, we “listened” to bats while they prey on insects.
Apart from the aforementioned educational laboratories, the Rezia Alpine Botanical Garden has organised several other activities related to different topics and purposes.
One of the most significant and important activities of the Garden is to provide education and research plant material (i.e.: seeds) that are not easy to find anywhere else. This goal is reached through the INDEX SEMINUM. This is a checklist of native or exotic species, which are harvested in the garden and in the natural environment and are available to be shared with other botanical gardens, universities, research centres.
Since 1982, the cultivated species has been performing phenological monitoring for the identification of the main flowering period (research that will continue well into the future). Moreover, students and teachers have done research on the growth and developmental stages of some crop species within the garden.
In terms of seasonal work, in the winter and spring periods the “Rezia” Alpine Botanical Garden aims:
– To send the INDEX SEMINUM to other botanical gardens, universities and research centres and, afterwards, ship seeds, bulbils and cuttings, which have been requested.
– To ask for reproductive material, to plant it and to evaluate the establishment and germination success.
– To update and register the database that reports all the events in the garden, such as: 1) the planting and transplanting dates, the main flowering times as well as the shipment and receiving of seeds to and from other gardens and institutes 2) the number of people who visited during the previous year 3) plant composition and health of sectors and sections of the garden and suggestions to improve them (i.e.: to add, substitute or move species).
– To carry out office work eg. Emails, letters and educational material.
In the summer and fall period, “Rezia” Alpine Botanical Garden aims:
– To harvest plants within the Stelvio National Park borders and the surrounding areas, avoiding rare and threatened species, in order to restore and implement the plant beds.
– To transplant individual plants from the seedbed to the plant flowerbeds, in the right sector and plant community.
– To collect seeds in the garden and in the natural environment for the exchange procedure the following year (harvesting usually takes place from June to October, both within and outside the Stelvio National Park).
– To monitor plant phenology, paying particular attention to the first flowering and main flowering dates.
– To list the available seeds in the index-seminum and to clean and prepare them for the future exchange.
– To manage the whole garden structure and the internal facilities, to weed, prune and clean pathways and flowerbeds and maintain or replace wooden parts.
– To produce surfaces and informative material with the pantograph, such as preparing descriptive notices of the species within each flowerbed.
Guided tours and laboratories.
Since 2002 the “Rezia” Alpine Botanical Garden has been a member of the Botanical Garden Network of Lombardy (Rete degli Orti Botanici Lombardi; reteortibotanicilombardia.it/).
The principal aims of this network are to develop an easier connection and improve communication between botanical gardens in order to better share the knowledge and past experiences.
The Lombardy Regional Government coordinates and promotes the activities of the network, such as thematic and educational conventions.
From June – October 2004, in agreement with the Monte Barro Regional Park (Parco del Monte Barro) and the Center of Native Flora (Centro Flora Autoctona), the staff of Rezia” Alpine Botanical Garden collected in loco reproductive materials of the protected taxa of Lombardy at the suggestion of Prof. G. Rossi.
Furthermore, the agreement provided the ex situm conservation of threatened species. For example, the Botanical Garden performed the reintroduction of Polemonium caeruleum, which in 1992 became extinct in the Braulio Valley, following the maintenance of the SS38 state road.[/toggle] [toggle title=”Aknowledgment”] Clauser M., Pavone P. 2016. “Orti botanici – Eccellenze italiane”. Nuove Direzioni, Firenze. 293 pp. [/toggle]