The garden of monumental trees (named as “Patriarchi”, that is to say “Patriarchs”) from Lombardy is a project carried out by the association “Patriarchi della Natura in Italia” (Association of Nature Patriarchs in Italy) thanks to an agreement made with the City of Milan on the occasion of Expo 2015 aimed at saving and making known the ancient varieties of fruit trees in Lombardy which are in danger of extinction.
This garden includes the “twins” of the most ancient fruit trees of Lombardy (at least two varieties for each province): the pear and apple trees from Oltrepo Pavese, all the way to olive trees of Lombard lakes, the plums from Valseriana (near Bergamo), the black cherries from Valtellina and the mulberry and apple trees from Mantua.
The garden is located in the centre of Milan, at the botanical museum, within the municipal green area in Zubiani street, right opposite the hospital Niguarda.
This collection of monumental trees bearing ancient fruit varieties has very important goals. First and foremost, it aims at recovering and giving value to rural biodiversity and thus the germplasm of fruit trees in Lombardy. Secondly, it has an educational value that enables citizens to get to know the biodiversity linked to their roots (we cannot protect what we don’t know). Moreover, these ancient varieties are the fundamental element of the agricultural landscape. Restoring our degraded landscape is very important as it represents a tourist attraction itself and tourism is a strategic sector for our economy. Lastly, it also has an agronomical value as these trees have proved to be able to resist to climatic and parasitic adverse condition through the years. In fact, these trees don’t need chemical treatments as they are very rustic; therefore, they are the most suitable trees for a sustainable agriculture like the integrated, organic and biodynamic farming, which does good to both the environment and our health.
The garden was realised in 2014 and inaugurated in 2015 on the occasion of the Milan Expo following the census carried out on the monumental and fruit-bearing trees in Lombardy by the Association of Nature Patriarchs in Italy. The study carried out across the region allowed the association to conduct a census on the great trees of Lombard agriculture and to reproduce them, preventing them from extinction due to intensive farming.