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Hubert John Edward Dominic Howard (b. Washington, D.C., USA, 23 Dec 1907; d. 17 Feb 1987), was educated at Downside School and at Cambridge University. He was the third of five sons of the diplomat Sir Esme William Howard, 1st Baron Howard of Penrith, by his wife Lady Isabella Giovanna Teresa Gioachina Giustiniani-Bandini.
Early in 1940 he volunteered for the British expeditionary force to Finland. In 1941 he was assigned to the Allies' Psychological Warfare Branch (PWB) in Italy, with which he served as an intelligence officer throughout the Italian campaign.
He married on 17 September 1951 Lelia Calista Ada Caetani (b. 1913; d. 11 Jan 1977), painter and plantswoman, daughter of the noted composer Roffredo Caetani, 17th Duke of Sermoneta and 8th Prince of Teano (1871–1961), who was the last of her 1,000-year-old family line. There were no children of the marriage.
They transformed it into one of the most widely admired gardens in Italy. The garden is laid out among the romantic ruins of a small castle and village which had been abandoned in 1381, set on the edge of the Pontine Marshes south of Rome. Today over 10,000 shrubs, plants and flowering trees grow among the medieval ruins and a lake formed by damming the river Ninfa. The garden owes little to the formal Italian style, but is developed in an English tradition of plantsmanship and painterly sensitivity. Ninfa has been described as ‘the most romantic garden in the world’.
Ownership of the garden was transferred to the Roffredo Caetani Foundation, named after the father of Lelia Howard, which continues to manage the garden today. It is open to the public at set times from April to November.
Charles Quest-Ritson, The Most Romantic Garden in the World, 2009
Burke's Peerage, Baronetage, etc., 107th ed., 2003
- The Venus Fixers: The Remarkable Story of the Allied Monuments Officers, by Ilaria Dagnini Brey, Macmillan, 2010, p. 151.
- [Charles Quest-Ritson, The Most Romantic Garden in the World, 2009]