How to reach
From Ischia, Casamicciola and Lacco Ameno CS line from Forio CD line
- Hydrofoil from Naples Beverello or Mergellina to Ischia Porto, Casamicciola or Forio
- Ferries from Naples or Pozzuoli to Ischia Porto or Casamicciola Terme
The garden is accessible for more than 50% to the disabled persons. The Recital Hall and the Greek Theatre are accessible.
In the environs of Forio, one of the most picturesque villages on the island of Ischia, lies 'La Mortella', the splendid garden created by Susana, the wife of William Walton, one of the most important twentieth-century British composers.
In 1956, eminent landscape architect Russell Page planned the layout of the garden on existing rocky lava formations.
The garden is divided into two parts: a lower garden in the Valley, and an upper garden on the hill, with vertical terraces cut directly into the rock and held by dry-stone walls; it covers a wide area and houses a collection of over 3000 species of rare exotic plants.
The whole garden is skilfully landscaped with water features, fountains, pools, rills that display a collection of water plants such as papyrus, lotuses and tropical water lilies.
The tropical greenhouse 'Victoria House' hosts Victoria amazonica, the undisputed queen of waterlilies, floating under the big water-sprout mask ''La Bocca'' by sculptor Simon Verity. The extremely rare tropical creeper Strongylodon macrobotrys, the so-called Jade vine from Philippines, also grows here and lavishes its unrivalled hanging trusses of jade green flowers.
The garden houses several collections of plants from many different countries such as the Tree ferns (Cyatheas, Dicksonias, Sphaeropteris) from Australia and New Zealand and the tropical ferns from the Canary Islands and South America; collections of Magnolias, Camellias, Bauhinias, Palm trees, Cycads, Salvias, Agaves, scented Pelargoniums, Phormiums, and many aromatic or fragrant plants from the Mediterranean countries such as dwarf rosemaries, lavenders and thymes, cistuses and fennels; and then Grevilleas and Callistemons from Australia, Proteas from South Africa and Yuccas from Mexico and Texas.
Moreover there are many unusual and rare plants: the Calliandra tweedii from tropical America; the Spathodea campanulata from tropical Africa, Metrosideros from New Zealand , the Puya berteroniana from Chile, Dracaena draco from Canary island, several tropical Aroids such as Alocasia and Xanthosoma, Bromeliads, Erythrinas, Orchids, grown both outdoors and in the Orchid house, Restios from the Fynbos of South Africa.
Among the plants most dear to Lady Walton are those grown from seed brought from Argentina, such as Chorysia speciosa and Jacaranda Mimosifoglia, or those that have an interesting evolutionary history such as the Ginkgo biloba which, having remained unaltered in the fossil form for over 200 million years, was brought to light in eighteenth-century China.
In a corner of the upper garden there is the Thai Pavilion, a quiet place for meditation with a strong oriental atmosphere, surrounded by lotus flowers, scented gingers, bamboos and Japanese maples. Also in the upper garden one can visit the Temple of the Sun, a hothouse for tropical ferns and palms, lavishly decorated with bas-reliefs by Simon Verity; the Crocodile waterfall, the amazing Nympheum, a reminiscence of formal gardens and labyrinths set among Mediterranean vegetation , and Williams' rock, where the ashes of the composer are kept.
A cosy tea-room welcomes the visitor half-way up the hill, on the way to a Recital Hall that doubles as museum, housing an interesting collection of photographs taken by Cecil Beaton, many memorabilia of William Walton and a little mock theatre, a fantastic composition by artist and opera-producer Lele Luzzati.
La Mortella runs a program of scholarships for composers in conjunction with Harvard University, and a season of concerts in collaboration with the prestigious music schools of Naples, Rome, Florence and Avellino.
La Mortella was awarded the price ''The most beautiful garden of Italy 2004'' at the annual competition organised by Briggs and Stratton.
Among the reasons for awarding the price the jury mentioned the exceptional layout, the outstanding maintenance, the quality of the plant collection and the facilities for the public.