Spring has arrived here, it came just the other day. One night I went to bed in winter with frost thick on the ground the soil brown and bare and when I woke the next morning there was a definite change in the air, a warmth which immediately caused nature to explode into life.
In the garden there was a sudden surge of growth and within hours the buds were pushing through the soil covering the brown earth with a tapestry of green. The pace is relentless growing in front of my eyes. I watch on with amazement as the first crocus push their heads through, opening their delicate petals wide and flat in the midday sun, they are followed closely by the dwarf narcissus golden yellow against the bare earth. Within a week the fruit trees are in full blossom and the garden is full of heady perfume from the daffodils and hyacinths all vying with each other to play the starring role.
Each year the spring garden is improving I have been buying hundreds of bulbs in Autumn and planting them in large swathes throughout the borders. Inspired by my Spring visits to Italian castles enclosed within stunning formal gardens filled with spring bulbs.
Last year one of my favourite visits was to castello di Piea sitting high on the hill above the village encircled by a beautiful ancient garden intensely planted with thousands of Tulips in all colours of the rainbow.
They call these events Tulipani and many castles open their doors to the public throughout April.
Visiting gardens has always been one of my passions, and I used to have my own garden open to the public but now as I gaze around and scan the vast open areas of my new garden I think it will be a long time till I reach that standard again.
Finding spring bulbs here has proved to be quite difficult and costly but now plant market and shows are growing in popularity. I have been able to find a good variety available from the more specialist nurseries.
The problem is I am an addict, a show groupie I am all the things I used to warn my students what not to be. Impulse buying, wrong planting, risking hardiness but what the hell this is what gardening is all about. Pushing the boundaries. I find it exciting each day to stroll around the borders to see what has appeared and what has survived. Today I noticed the rosy red crinckled leaves of the Paeonies pushing their way through the aster bed, the iris are fattening up and most of the roses have breaking buds. The little Leucojums the winter snowflakes have opened and there are two or three white bells fluttering in the wind.
This afternoon I spent a few enjoyable hours weeding my large herbaceous border occasionally catching a whiff of scent from the hyacinths or from the lavender as my arms brushed against it. Just wonderful. The garden does reflect my personality ” mary mary quite contrary” – that is me . It is always bounding endlessly forward, forever enthusiastic, always changing and in a state of controlled disorganisation. How I love it and everything that goes with it.
Yesterday while working in one of the local towns I took a quick coffee break . I was thrilled to find a pamphlet for a plant fair next weekend. Later I managed to persuade OH to come on the belief that he will be visiting new places of interest, with a special picnic and a visit to the local cantina. Brilliant I can look forward to my first adrenalin rush of the year. Crazy as it may seem after spending ten years of my life exhibiting in most of the garden shows in the UK one would think that I would be showed out but now the bug is worse than ever. I will be first in the queue with purse in hand to buy those must have on trend fashion plants.
Just as I did last year when visiting a lovely little garden show in Ovada I got completely carried away buying loads of plants and forgetting our guests David and Glenna who had accompanied us in our little Mini Uno. I was finally faced with 4 people, a dog, loads of bags, pot plants and various holiday gifts.
It was quite a task to fit everything in, much to the amusement of the Italians watching on and quite hilarious for us.
Once the boot space was filled Glenna and I climbed into the rear and the guys passed the plants to us we had them between our feet knees and around our necks. Every little space was filled unfortunately for us two of the plants were roses somewhat uncomfortable. The men could not see us amongst the foliage it was like sitting in a hedgerow. Thankfully Glenna is a plantaholic like me the slight discomfort was overruled by the little treasures we had bought.
As the years pass I have found specialist nurseries, rose gardens, the stalls on the local market, I have bored Italians with my stories of my old exploits and begged cuttings and splits from all around me.
The garden is starting to fill up with all my new acquisitions and although today it appears quite bare within a few weeks the roses will be flowering and the borders will be billowing with daisies and lavender.
It is a very special place to be and even more satisfying that it is our own creation. My Italian friends look on with interest as they have never seen anything quite like it. They shake their heads and say” but you cannot eat this”.
They don’t quite understand why I should want to slave so hard to create something of beauty when there is so much available around us. Even if they are a little unsure I think the bug is contagious as after each visit they can be seen leaving the gate clutching cuttings and seeds with reverence.
I do share my garden with wildlife, the bees, butterflies, hoverflies, damselflies it goes on and on, along with my little dog who delights in searching for lizards under the lavender bushes or digging holes in OH’s Orta.
There is no better place I would rather be on a warm sunny spring morning. Happy Easter everyone. Buona Pasqua