This is a small but rather interesting garden event, I think this was its fifth year. Probably just a little bit too small but it does have the added attraction of the “medieval” village all around the castle with shops that sell everything from lavander sachets to salame, and of course some good restaurants specialising in dishes from the Piacenza area. So, as I said, a bit too small but very posh as it is held in the grounds of Castello Visconti. You can take a guided tour of the castle but I go for the plants ( you can see too many castles, great houses and so on. I’d much rather stay in the grounds….what a philistine!) Another plus is that the speakers are always fascinating; we’ve heard Umberto Pasti telling us about how he saved many autochthonous Maroccan wild flowers from savage cementification, just another chapter of tourist- inspired destruction; Carlo Contesso spoke about the history of the garden starting way back in the garden of Eden. There’s a lesson for you, if Eve had not been so destructive, plucking the beautiful fruit from the tree, we’d all still be there. Next time you’re in a garden, or even just rambling, resist the urge to pluck flowers! And this year we had the pleasure of listening to Paolo Peyrone who sees the garden as a great teacher. He is also old enough to have met many of the leading figures in the more recent history of gardening. I asked him if he thought the English garden was on its last legs and he made that so-elegant hand gesture that only Italians can bring off- the horizontal hand movement which means something like “yes, nearly”. We joined a walking tour round the garden led by Carlo Contesso. It’s always fascinating to see the nuts and bolts of gardening, the behind-the-scenes. It must be hell to be a garden designer though, you’re fighting against the weather, badly-labelled plants which don’t always grow as you expected them to, seasonal disruptions and constraints laid down by the owners. I had never really thought about that, although I should have. We gardeners are sweet-natured people, mostly, but can be a very stroppy lot if the designers, gardeners and so on attempt to contradict us. The tour went ahead in spite of what we laughingly called “scattered showers”. On and off with the new French mac, open and close the brollies. But a drop of rain is worth celebrating this year! In fact, one of the participants of our group HAD said she would dance if it rained! She didn’t, it did! The stalls were interesting and the nursery owners ready to answer our questions, and there was no mishmash of frippery that you often find in these events. I loved the stall selling just seeds. I got an amaranthus and I still don’t know why, I don’t even like them! Also some sacred sage for my grandson who seems to like white-leaved plants. Lunch was great with local, slowfood recipes difficult to choose, impossible, to get wrong.