The Botanical Garden of Villa Beuca in Cogoleto was established in 2002 in an attempt to offer something more than the functions typical of such scientific institutions (research, teaching and nature tours for the public): it aims to become an interesting new element in the tourist attractions to the west of Genoa and to provide both territorial and scientific links with the Beigua Natural Park.
Created by the Community of Cogoleto with funds from the European Fund for Regional Development, the Gardens are situated in Beuca (Lat 44°23´6.08"N, Lon 8°37´50.42"E), to the west of Cogoleto, on a terrace nearly 100 meters above the sea and running parallel to it; they may be reached by road (Via Beuca) off the Provincial main road (Via Allegro) to Sciarborasca.
Covering a total of 34,000 square meters, the gardens are divided into three distinct main areas, each offering a wide and interesting overview of the peculiarities of the plant world: a didactic sector dedicated to exotic species, a second part dedicated to typical Ligurian habitats, flora and vegetation which offers cliffs and ponds as well as the traditional agricultural landscape of Liguria with its variety of vines and olives and a third area comprising a broad slope of natural vegetation (the Cornice spontanea), mainly shrubs, left unchanged.
The Botanical Garden itself, located on the western slope of the hill overlooking the hamlet of Beuca, covers about 19,000 square meters and includes 10 plant habitats of Liguria, from sea level to the mountains, with typical flora species. Stretches of existing vegetation, mainly Mediterranean shrubs that grow alongside the newer plants have also been preserved here. Some of the most interesting botanical species are quite remarkable, such as Aphyllanthes monspeliensis L. and the eastern limit of its Western Europe distribution range is right here in the Cogoleto area. Another adventitious rarity Fuirena pubescens (Poir.) Kunth can also be seen here: first reported in 2005 in the Garden, this is one of the few known sites of this plant in Northern Italy.
The flora of the sea cliffs and shores, with extensive blooms which can be greatly appreciated as early as March, is particularly rich thanks to the excellent sun conditions that represent however a limiting factor for alpine and mountain plants.
The visitor will also find, together with panels illustrating briefly the plants and their habitat, further information on the small animals and birds to be found in the Botanical Gardens with different species.
The presence of two stretches of water is also remarkable: these are not ornamental ponds, but are designed as two examples of natural Ligurian wetlands hosting the main species of plants typical of natural marshes. The small animals (dragonflies, amphibians) that have since settled here are also interesting.
It is worth remembering that the area outside of the Botanical Garden itself found on the western part of Beuca hill (the former Dutch Village, now a residential area), where one can find a library available for visits, conferences and public events, is also part of the Botanic Gardens visit. This Cornice Didattica is dedicated to non-native plants distributed in mediterranean–type climates elsewhere in the world and is always open to the public.
Currently, the Cogoleto Botanical Gardens offer elements of natural interest which combine the aesthetic with the teaching and research purposes for which it was conceived.
The structure can, thanks to maintenance, settling times and natural vegetative rhythms provide a valuable collection of Ligurian species to be viewed during opening hours. Moreover from an educational point of view, the Botanic Garden has much to offer with its thematic routes for school use (Ligurian vegetation, medicinal and aromatic plants, adaptations, living fossils etc ) and a microscope is also available.
It also represents an important opportunity for the employment of persons with psychological and social problems, this being a main objective of the local council. In fact the management of the Garden itself is run by a local cooperative since maintenance, openings, visits, etc, are handled by the Il Rastrello Cooperativa Sociale Onlus, a "type B" Social Cooperative in Genoa.
The Botanical Garden in 2016 aims not only to pursue initiatives in the plant and botany field, but also to promote events in the area of culture, education and enjoyment.
The structure works with other botanical gardens in Liguria and with various scientific institutions (University, CNR).
The Botanical Garden of Villa Beuca is visited by educational institutes and centres of all kinds (from infants school to university, and not just from Liguria) as well as organized groups and associations of various types, both independently or in groups. Interns, trainees and people on work-experience schemes operate or have worked here.
To the occasional visitor, the recommended period to visit is undoubtedly in springtime (March-April-May), when most of the species are blooming: of course not every plant flowers in the same period, given the variety of species present and the peculiar characteristics of many of them: a special panel displayed at the entrance indicates the flowering periods and the plant positions in the Garden.
The Botanical Garden is open to the public by appointment on Saturday and with the participation of five visitors at least (please contact 345 6401834):
For groups and schools, guided tours may be organized, on request, on other days besides those listed; for further information please call 345 6401834.
Entrance € 2.50; reduced (over 65s, groups of at least 10 participants) € 1.20; children under six years free.
For more information:
Social Cooperative Il Rastrello - Mobile 345 6401834
(Many thanks to Elizabeth Cotton for translation)