Tree Species in the Garden of Villa Crivelli Pusterla

Veduta del viale dei tigli (Fototeca ISAL, fotografia di G. Defilippis)
View of the linden tree lane (ISAL Photo Archive, photograph by G. Defilippis)


The centuries-old history of Villa Crivelli Pusterla is seen in the great variety of the design of the garden which is reached through the entrance lane of the noble courtyard that linked the villa to the city of Limbiate. This was equipped with lines of cypress trees while the gallery slopes down towards the garden through a series of exedra terraces enriched with stairs, pilasters, balustrades, and faux windows, transformed into a unique background for the Italian garden with a central water fountain and water spurts, designed by the architect, Francesco Croce.

With the aim of experimenting on the presence of new cultivations and the planting of rare exotic plants, the Abbot, Pietro Francesco Crivelli, expert botanist, had many greenhouses installed which no longer exist today.
It was an enviable home until 1819, but after it was sold by the Crivelli, the greater part of the villa’s garden was reduced to undergrowth. In 1832 news spread regarding the existence of a Dutch garden. Then in 1858, they talked about a romantic-styled garden.
The successive transformation into a mental asylum led to deep modifications of the garden, also to allow the construction of the single pavilions. Though it is difficult to trace the original layout of the villa’s garden, some fragments can still be retraced so as to observe the particular composite and botanical features which can still be seen.
The main entrance introduces the visitor to fragments of the formal garden which surrounds a fountain, no longer working, with monumental trees such as: the Atlas Cedar (Cedrus atlantica) characterised by blue-green needle-shaped leaves, arranged in tuffs around the shoots of the previous year, and single ones, around those of the current year; the southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora), with the unmistakable leathery, green leaves on the upper portion and rust brown underneath; and hedges of boxwood (Buxus sempervirens) pruned to resemble little trees. Against the background stand the pavilions of the former mental asylum. Looking to the left, there is a lane of pruned Linden trees (Tilia cordata) (8) that guide the guests towards the mixed wood where numerous tree species predominate, such as the Atlas cedars, yews, beeches, plane trees and red oaks.
The tree-lined avenue then turns eastward to reach a clearing from which one can get a glimpse of the noble villa. It is preceded by small portions of lawns with imposing trees of the Atlas cedar and yews, magnolia, bald cypresses, named as such because in autumn, the little branches and needle-like leaves fall to the ground. This plant essence is certainly linked to the noble landscape culture influenced by the passion for this plant that was imported from the Americas from 1640 onwards.
Upon approaching the noble villa one can see the Oratory of St. Francis and the west portico connecting the two little towers, and enter the noble courtyard, which was once more complex than the variety of its plants. Here there are flowerbeds with annual flowering plants framed by little boxwood hedges that create a contrast with the exotic palms with their fibrous stems and leathery leaves fanning out.
At the sides of the little tower in neo-classical style lines, a flight of stairs immersed in Linden trees, and flanked by young examples of palms, lead into the zone downstream to the villa where one can admire the eastern perspective of the building, with the 19th-century terracing and what remains of the Italian garden, today assigned to didactic activities of the farm school.
Climbing back to the upper zone still assigned to sanitary activities, one encounters the lanes with a mix of exotic species with typical essences of the Lombard plane. The path once again offers visitors charming panoramas that confirm the glorious past of the park and its transformation into a social-assistance structure and farming enterprise. One can see spread out in the greens: stone seats that invite visitors to stop for a rest, and elements in wrought iron, silent witnesses to a past that should never be forgotten.