Giardini Botanici Villa Taranto
The Giardini Botanici Villa Taranto (16 hectares) are botanical gardens located on the western shore of Lake Maggiore in Pallanza, Province of Verbano-Cusio-Ossola, Italy. They are open daily; an admission fee is charged.
The gardens were established 1931-1940 by Scotsman Neil McEacharn who bought an existing villa and its neighboring estates, cut down more than 2000 trees, and undertook substantial changes to the landscape, including the addition of major water features employing 8 km of pipes. He set the name "Villa Taranto" (Taranto House) in honour of his ancestor Étienne Jacques Joseph Alexandre MacDonald, named Duke of Taranto by Napoleon. They opened to the public in 1952, and after McEacharn's death in 1964 have been run by a non-profit organization. The Villa Taranto itself is not open to the public; it is used by the government.
Captain Neil Boyd Watson McEacharn was born in 1884 in Hanover Square, London, England. His father was the Scotsman Sir Malcolm Donald McEacharn and his mother Mary Ann Watson, a daughter of Australian mining millionaire John Boyd Watson. He was commissioned into the Kings Own Scottish Borderers of the British Army in 1911 and served throughout the First World War, being appointed a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE).
Today the gardens contain nearly 20,000 plant varieties, representing more than 3,000 species, set among 7 km of paths. Among its collections are azalea, cornus, greenhouses of Victoria amazonica, and 300 types of dahlias. It also contains a small herbarium and the founder's mausoleum.
- "La storia di Villa Taranto e i suo maestosi giardini" [The history of Villa Taranto and its majestic gardens] (in Italian). Retrieved 8 March 2015.
- General Register Office of England and Wales, Births, December quarter, Kensington, Vol 1a, page 175.
- The London Gazette Supplement, various editions, 1911-1919.
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- Desmond, Steven (2016). Gardens of the Italian Lakes (Hardback). London: Frances Lincoln. ISBN 978-0-7112-3630-1.
- Lodari, Carola (2006). Villa Taranto: Captain McEacharn's Garden. Umberto Allemandi. ISBN 88-422-0865-5.
- McEacharn, Neil (1954) The Villa Taranto: A Scotsman's Garden in Italy, Country Life.
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