Bolle, zolle e corolle (Bubbles, Clods and Petals)

I Decided to give Franciacorte a try. It was lovely driving through the vineyards, and although I am one of the lucky ones of this world and have never been hungry, the feeling of comfort and happiness when you see well-tended fields must be an atavic pleasure…. Parking was a bit of a problem, but by scraping the walls of a building……. I took the wrong road first and reached a blocked gate just in time to hear a rousing rendition of Fratelli d’Italia by a local brass band. The first thing I really noticed which I had never seen before was the cheese and salame “da passeggio”, which you nibble while you’re walking, just as if it were an ice cream. Then the first wine tasting – delicious. Interesting conversation too. But of course conversation is always better ….lubricated. I must try it in my lessons next year! I walked round admiring the good exhibits, especially the enormous space occupied by the guy from Lucca, hydrangeas , clematis and roses galore. Through the villa gardens and more wine tasting: this time a rosé which was more orange than rosé and too strong for my liking. Summer rosés should have a similar alcoholic content to a cup of tea, after all that’s what you’re substituting. I sat next to a secret garden in the cool shade wondering how long it would take for the alcohol to wear off! The Villa was decorated with incredible paper flowers, you really had to touch them to be convinced they were not real! there was a mini exhibition of bonsai from a private source, they were incredibly beautiful. After a final walk round (I bought some red flowered strawberries and some mad carnations. (Mad because they have straggly petals and look as if they need a hairdresser) And when it was time to drive home I got a volunteer youngster to accompamy me to my car with a wheelbarrow, Yet another opportunity to chat.

Gardening, My Diary, Trip, Uncategorized

Villa Carlotta

Who cares about a spot of rain? Well certainly not the fearless Garden Club members! We all crowded onto the ferry and sat on the few (nearly) dry seats to admire the loveliness of lake Como wreathed in the mists. We arrived at Villa Carlotta, one of the Grandi Giardini Italiani, to be greeted by Dr.Tantardini a phytopathologist who accompanied us round the garden. History, anecdote, advice, dripping magnolia trees, it was a fascinating walk until he said that it might be best to shelter in the villa, perhaps the rain would stop or taper off. So we had an extra opportunity to look around this lovely place with its reproductions of romantic Canova statues, Psyche and Eros of course. The rain did let up and we continued our explorations: he showed us how NOT to prune azaleas, told us which soil improvers to use for which plants and answered the many questions that we all had to ask him .What was extremely interesting was the kind of housekeeping he envisaged for a park like this. Little or no attempt had been made to prepare substitute trees should they die or get blown down; apart from the obvious danger of an old tree blowing down, the hole it leaves and above all the disappeared foliage, will completely alter the ecosystem that was there before. Tender plants will be left without shade or their windbreak so they will suffer too. We saw places in the garden where the azalea trees were old and destined to die or fall, leaving that particular space quite empty. It’s so much more complicated and linked in than I imagined. Another particularly fascinating insight was his aversion to irrigation systems. Apparently ,after time ,they tend to make the soil too lime-y and thus unsuitable for azaleas and rhododendrons. After a pretty decent lunch we tramped round the rest of the garden and then made our way home. A very succesful if wet day, there’s so much to learn.