The Painted Garden of the Villa of Livia

Garden paintings from the Villa of Livia at Prima Porta (30-20 BCE)

This lush painted garden covered the walls of a semi-subterranean chamber, probably a cool triclinium (dining room) for summer banquets, in the suburban Villa of Livia Drusilla, the wife of Augustus.

This Second style fresco, the most ancient example of continuous garden painting (30 - 20 BCE), presents a variety of plants and birds rendered in a naturalistic way.

Many are the botanical species identified: in the foreground, the umbrella pine, the oak, the red fir; beyond a marble enclosure grow apple quinces, pomegranates, myrtles, oleanders, date palms, strawberry trees, laurels, viburnums, holm oaks, box trees, cypresses, ivy and acanthus.

In the meadow under the trees bloom roses, poppies, chrysanthemums and chamomile, while along the footpaths in the foreground, ferns alternate with violets and irises.