The Garden of Simples: oasis of peace and biodiversity

Hello everyone! Today I’m taking you to discover a small corner of paradise hidden among the hills of Lake Orta: the Garden of Simples in Miasino. Yes, that very Miasino that looks like it came out of a postcard, with its quiet streets and the church of San Rocco towering above the houses. But let me tell you the story of this garden, a story that seems written by a director with a penchant for plot twists.

From the Bible Garden to the Garden of Simples

It all begins in 2009, when the Consorzio Pro Loco Lago d’Orta, thanks to funds from the Interreg Italy-Switzerland 2007-2013 project, decided to create the Bible Garden. The idea was simple and fascinating: plant the essences mentioned in the Bible. Unfortunately, the Piedmont climate is not exactly that of the Holy Land. But, you know, in Italy we like to throw our hearts over the hurdle.

For five years, thanks to funds and volunteers, the Garden survived. Then, in 2014, the cold shower: the Consortium could no longer manage the Garden. It seemed like the end, a classic moment of “close the curtain and go home.”

But no, because here comes the plot twist! In 2015, the Municipality of Miasino entered into an agreement with the Fobelli Agricultural Institute of Crodo. The students and Professor Giancarlo Fantini rolled up their sleeves and started working hard: they weeded, removed overgrown trees, and saved what could be saved. And so, from the ashes of a failed biblical project, a garden of aromatic and medicinal herbs was born.

Albert Husband: The green-thumbed guardian

And here we are with one of the most fascinating characters in this story: Albert Husband. Imagine a modern druid, with an enigmatic smile and expert hands. Albert knows every plant by name and surname, recounts their history and healing virtues. Thanks to his passion, the Garden of Simples has become an oasis of biodiversity, a place where about 100 medicinal species thrive under the Piedmont sun.

Journey through scents and colors

Walking along the well-kept paths, one is immersed in an atmosphere of peace and harmony. The intense scents of lavender, rosemary, mint, and sage intoxicate the senses. Each plant is equipped with a label revealing its botanical name and properties. And among the most particular species, here are the jujube, echinacea, and licorice. Among these, some plants particularly stand out to me, which I like to call “courageous,” because even here in the Piedmont mountains, thanks to a truly special microclimate, some typical temperate zone plants manage to survive the harsh winters.

There’s the Myrtle, with its fragrant leaves that evoke the sea and the Mediterranean scrub. There’s the Caper, with its tasty buds that add a touch of flavor to our salads. There’s the Helichrysum, with its golden flowers that look like tiny miniature suns. And then there’s the undisputed queen of this exotic corner: the Manuka, a plant from New Zealand, whose honey is considered the elixir of health par excellence.

A place of peace and knowledge  

The Garden of Simples is not only a paradise for botany lovers but also a place of peace and reflection. Wooden benches invite relaxation, while educational panels illustrate the healing properties of plants and the importance of biodiversity. Albert shows me a rue plant: “It used to be used to ward off demons,” he says laughing. “Now, perhaps, we need it to ward off a bit of stress.”

An invitation to slow down and appreciate beauty  

Leaving the garden, I carry with me a sense of calm and renewed awareness. In a frantic world where everything moves fast, the Garden of Simples reminds us of the importance of slowing down, of observing the beauty around us, and of appreciating the gifts of nature.

Traveling friends, if you happen to pass by Lake Orta, stop by Miasino and visit this reborn garden. I assure you, it is truly worth it. And perhaps, while you’re there, think of all the beautiful stories a place like this can tell. Because, as Albert says, “nature teaches us that there is always a chance for rebirth.” And I couldn’t agree more.