My Diary, Trip

I’m just a gal who can’t say GO…

Actually that’s not the title of the song which is” I’m just a gal who can’t say no and I’m in a terrible fix”.I wish I were like that girl because procrastination is my enemy, Thief of my mini holiday!A gal who can’t say go, me down to the ground! So, eventually, tardily, tootling along in my car admiring the distant hills but knowing all the time that flat land is in my soul. Here the paddyfields and Poplar woods of the Lombard plain. Their flatness satisfies me, flat land, the horizontal lines give a feeling of calm., I’m not interested in the vertical thrusting lines leading up to….where? The really bright acid green of the rice fields, the poplars, green leaves their silver undersides shimmering in the slightest breeze all against that Leonardesque background of blues fading more and more as they are further away from me. I guess the mountains are wonderful to the more energetic souls among you or even the very romantic ones, but give me flat land.

I had decided to go and have a look at the lavender fields of the Oltrep√≤, but after quite a long ride, the landscape was unrelentingly green. Nice of course, but shouldn’t it be violet?So I stopped and asked a man where it was, and sometimes I’m pleased I have a foreign accent, foreigners are more easily forgiven for their lack of knowledge. ” Signora it was all harvested three weeks ago”! I really should do my research before starting out. So what to do? visit a little borgo, one ot the most beautiful ones in Italy apparently, and it was. Those quiet deserted streets , the climb up to the castle area and the church where I noticed that it’s not enough to be good to get into heaven, you have to climb a lot of steps. A nice little place, beautifully kept, but for me it was more to do with the intangibles: the perfect silence interrupted only by the birdsong, a cool fresh breeze which made walking a pleasure, even at 13.30, butterflies fluttering all around, occasional elderly ladies out walking with their granddaughters, the lady who stopped cleaning her windows to draw the curtains so I could get a decent shot of the gothic arched window….



We British are obsessed with the weather. Of course. It’s exciting, variable from minute-to- minute because it’s an ever-changing kaleidoscope. I remember calling my cousin and asking if predictions were good for my summer holiday in England. “Well”, he said ” we had summer last week on Wednesday afternoon”. Here in Italy we don’t actually have weather; just two “seasons”, hot, cold. You can’t squeeze much cover from that can you? but along with no seasons there are no skies. And we all know how delightful cloud -watching is! Ask any baby! They’ll watch the sky and the changing cloud formations for hours! In fact it’s so absorbing that Gavin Pretor-Pinney founded The Cloud Appreciation Society with over 50,000 paid-up members in 2005.

I remember my first Smart car had a glass roof and I had many a near escape because I was cloud watching. Far more interesting than a trafficked road actually! And who has not played the game with kids about cloud shapes? Hands up! I once toyed with the idea of joining the Cloud Appreciation Society but I was a bit put off by the fact that I could see ’em without actually paying! And what do you say of that stupid business jargon term “Blue sky thinking”?

Tell it to the people who live in desert regions. Most importantly (perhaps) is the wealth of skyscapes and cloudscapes that this love has given rise to. Some of our greatest painters have devoted their canvasses to the sky. And in England I lived in the Fens, a particularly flat area with BIG skies.

J.M.W.Turner The Slave shipJ

Gardening, Seasons

But I always thought we ENGLISH invented roses….

Yes, well along with everything else worthwhile: cricket, all dressed in white on the village green, bucolic!; afternoon tea with cucumber sandwiches (no crusts) and scones with raspberry jam and whipped cream; a proper breakfast with cholesterol-busting bacon, eggs beans, hash browns, fried bread; the weather with information on the best places to experience it published in magazines; messin’about in boats; beer warm and flat, not this continental joke of lager; gin and tonic which kept Elizabeth the Queen Mum alive well into her 100’s; my goodness I could go on forever , the list is endless. But I’ve just had the most terrible shock! I wanted to write about my glorious golden yellow rose and I find that it was bred ….in Germany! So after this dramatic wakeup call I decided to research the origins of my other roses. You won’t believe this! I nearly didn’t ….and they’re mine, in my garden, loved under the illusion that they are all English roses! Loved and pampered under false pretences! One is German, two are French, one is Spanish and only two are English roses! We could’ve stayed in the European Union! And I am always so careful, trying to re-create my little bit of home in my backyard! I drive the poor bulb man from Rome crazy insisting on only English bluebells, I order Spring daffodils from England, and clematis England’s second favourite flower? That too.

You never,ever know enough do you? Because the information is all there at a tap on your phone. MAIGOLD (Kordes 1953) The Kordes family is based in Schleswig-Holstein (I thought that the Grimm brothers invented this name for a fairy tale!) and is an innovative breeder responsible for early flowering roses.

FELIPE KIFTSGATE (Murrel 1964) This one was developed by Hilda Murrel, a rose grower and campaigner against nuclear energy. Her rose was popularised by being grown in Vita Sackville-West’s famous Sissinghurst gardens.

SOMBREUIL (Robert 1850) but unfortunately I can find nothing about him though he sounds French.

GHISLAINE DE FELIGONDE ( Eugene Turbat 1916 )Another mysterious Frenchman, but Ghislaine was a nurse in the great war who married a wounded soldier the Count of Feligonde.

MME:GREGOIRE STAECHELIN (Dot 1927) a breeder who put Spanish rose growers on the map famous for his shrub variety.He has been likened to Gaudi as a kind of expressionist because he “consistently chose roses with a wilder and more extreme character than their parents.”

MALVERN HILLS (Austin 2000) breeder of English style roses and one of the fathers of the modern English rose.

Gardening, My Diary

Thinking about the garden

I do an awful lot ot thinking about my garden! Recentlly I’ve been having thoughts about what Gilles Clement calls “Les vagabondes” and everyone else calls weeds. Rather than real weeds from somewhere over the fence, although that particular exchange tends to take place but in the opposite direction, I’ m thinking about plants which won’t stay put ,or smother the more delicate ones with their thug-like ways. Blessed, or cursed as may be with very fertile soil, it’s a constant battle to keep the precious ones alive! My lovely , grandmotherly (because they were among her favourites) Dianthus Mrs. Sinkins is struggling against an overwhelming show of Japanese Anemones. And the adored Regal Lilies fighting a losing battle against Michaelmas daisies! Since I tore up their roots things are looking better.
I thought it was only bamboo that needed drastic measures! Hostas planted in the wrong places are thriving and and Hellebores are simply hooligans. Certainly all these crowders give a good show, but I’m looking for something daintier, a little more loath to spill its guts!

Gardening, My Diary, Seasons

Lighten up!

After my last post, I really think we need to lighten up, what say you? There’s lightness in the night air here in Lesmo. After maybe 3/4 years’ wait, one of my Brugmanias has flowered. Champagne occasion! I bought 3 of them from Hayloft’s remembering the 3 beautiful trees (then called Datura in my old allotment). The offer was a set of three all different colours although I only wanted the white one. They were sent in plastic test tubes and have been lovingly nurtured for the last 3 years. (I’m probaby a better mum to my plants than I ever was to my kids!) Anyway, it decided to flower… creamy, no it’s going to be yellow! Wait til the evening though until it releases that delicate ethereal scent! It’s white! so I loll on my patio and contemplate it…if a double white Brugmansia doesn’t take you to nirvana ….nothing will. Just contemplate, just breathe…