While the native trees in Ombrosa generally symbolize the Age of Enlightenment and the era’s emphasis on connectedness, the d’Ondariva garden—including its exotic trees—symbolizes the Romantic era to come. The garden is full of non-native trees and plants that Cosimo thinks of as being direct opposites of the native trees in which he primarily lives, an observation that speaks to the tensions and conflicts that arise in the transition between the two eras and their guiding principles. When, at the end of the novel, Biagio notes that the native trees Cosimo lived in are gone and have been replaced by ones similar to those that once grew only in the d’Ondarivas’ garden, it forcefully illustrates that the Romantic era has not just come to stay, but has entirely overtaken the Enlightenment that came before it.
The d’Ondariva Garden and Exotic Trees Quotes in The Baron in the Trees
He saw her: she was circling the pool, the little gazebo, the amphoras. She looked at the trees that had grown enormous, with hanging aerial roots, the magnolias that had become a forest. But she didn’t see him, he who sought to call her with the cooing of the hoopoe, the trill of the pipit, with sounds that were lost in the dense warbling of the birds in the garden.
Then, the vegetation has changed: no more the holm oaks, the elms, the oaks; now Africa, Australia, the Americas, the Indies extend branches and roots here. The ancient trees have retreated upward: on top of the hills the olives, and in the mountain woods pines and chestnuts; down on the coast it’s an Australian red with eucalyptus, elephantine with ficus, enormous and solitary garden plants, and all the rest is palms, with their disheveled tufts, inhospitable desert trees.