The project was inaugurated on March 25, 2012 in Rome, when HORTUS URBIS oversaw the development of an unused green area in the Park of the Via Appia Antica, thus transforming it into a public space and vegetable garden utilizing a selection of plants used during ancient Roman times.
The garden is managed by amateur and professional horticulturists who volunteer their time for the protection and preservation of the land.
Each Sunday in the garden there are learning activities for children ages 3 to 10 and their parents. In addition to gardening, children also learn about positive nutrition and are encouraged to be think creatively through a series a classes organized by associations of illustrators, gardeners, and theatres. There are also organized events for adults, such as gardening and horticulture, wild plant recognition, basket weaving, outdoor watercolor painting, and pruning roses and fruit trees.
At HORTUS URBIS there are approximately 70 varieties of plants, used in Roman times for food, medicine, and as ornaments. These plants were discussed by famous Romans Columella, Pliny the Elder, Cato, Virgil and were among the ruins at Pompeii. Some examples of plants include: the Achillea millefolium (yarrow, in English) known as the ‘military herb’ since it was believed to have curative properties which were useful in battle; Flowers such as calendula, narcissus, lilies, white and blue hyacinths, violets, roses and rosemary, which were used in sacred crowns to offer to the gods; the Borago officinalis (borage, in English), which decorated homes where a wedding was held and was also added to wine and used as an antidepressant; Coriander, which was used as a culinary seasoning, to preserve food, and to cure headaches and fevers by leaving seeds under your pillow; the Hyssopus officinalis, which was used as a cure for lice; Malva, a favorite of Cicero; daisies, which the Roman Legion used to cure their skin wounds; and Nepetella, Ruta, and Santoreggia, all ingredients for the famous Roman dish moretum.
The garden consists of 16 square flower beds and occupies an area of approximately 50 Roman feet in length, resulting in an area of approximately 225 square meters. In addition to the garden, within HORTUS URBIS there is a compost area, a raw earth oven, a pergola, a toolbox, and an irrigation system. Additionally, works are underway for an area for the cultivation of earthworms, a seed germination zone, and a small orchard of ancient fruits.