Archive for the ‘Garden’ Category

Cherry harvest

Saturday, May 19th, 2012

In Italian these is an expression “Non c’e due senza tre” – there isn’t two without three. In English we say “things happen in 3s”. Our cherry tree has proved this to be true. Having planted the tree about 4 years ago we have never had a single cherry. This year we had a few flowers and now we have 3 beautiful red cherries to look at.

cherries 1 cherries 2

Our new shed

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

blu coast logo

Having had our old shed destroyed by the snow we eventually got round to buying a new one. We went for a “Blu Coast” shed which according to the logo is “made in Italy”. Next time we will import a shed from England.

We opted for a “Blockhaus” shed which means it has bits sticking our at all four corners rather like a log cabin. So when the shed arrived our first surprise was that it had lots of bits. Being used to panel sheds we were expecting a base, four sides, and a roof. Instead we got lots of pieces of toungue and grove to fit together.

The next surprise was the floor. We were disappointed to discover that “Italian design and innovation” doesn’t apply to shed floors. The floor was composed of 5 long batons onto which you hammered 15 planks of wood. Instead of giving 15 planks of equal width the instruction manual said one had to cut 17mm of two of the planks of wood and these became the first and last planks of the base. When hammering the wood onto the planks it was also necessary to leave 14mm of wood at top and bottom of batons and 15mm on the two side batons.

When we finally got the base done and had slotted the tongue and groove planks together we were meant to put a wooden upright in each corner of the shed and one in the centre of the back wall. Unfortunately none of the uprights were straight. So while it was possible to screw the top of the upright into the shed wall the bottom remained floating in space.

When putting the hinges on the door the instructions were very clear – the hinges were to be screwed in at 97mm from the top and the bottom. Unfortunately this is also where Blu Coast had opted to put a series of nails to hold the door frame together.

However, despite all the problems and moments of “let’s stop for a cup of tea before we lose our tempers”, the shed as you can see was finished.  My dad, who was a carpenter, would be proud of his son.

new shed being built new shed

Sunday, April 8th, 2012

olive tree pruned
Guerrier is a nearby wine and oil producer. They have just won a third prize in the “Premio nazionale l’oro d’Italia 2012”. Don’t know if our olive oil is as good but we were pleased an surprised last year to get 15 litres from our trees. As it had been a very hot summer we were not expecting much after the bumper harvest the year before and so we were pleasantly surprised. In the coming year we will have very little oil as we have had to prune the trees severely after the snow. The tree outside the back door looks, at the moment, like a tree left on a first world war battlefield. However, after a few years it will be large and lovely again and in reality the snow forced us to do what we should have done a couple of years ago.

Our Hedge

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

hedge after snow
After the snow we have had to cut back our hedge. What had been a 6ft hight dense green hedge is now in places a 2 ft high, patchy excuse for a hedge. Having started with the hedge we  are now working on the olive trees and they are being well and truly chopped. However, no doubt they will all spring back.

Bill and Terry’s doppelgangers

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

To celebrate us both hitting 60 we are planning a trip to Hawaii and the highlight will be a helicopter ride. So when our families asked what I wanted for my birthday I suggested some dollars which can go towards the helicopter flights. However, in addition Bill’s ever thoughtful niece, Sam, bought us some rejuvenating skin products – not working yet. His equally thoughtful nephew, Michael bought us something for the garden as when he saw them he thought immediately of us – almost our doubles he said. The two good looking scarecrows and now in the garden and enjoying the Italian “dolce vita”.

Our first pomegranates?

Saturday, June 11th, 2011


About 6 or 7 years ago the local council  had a day when foreigners were invited to meet local people and to get to know each other. By chance we were here on holiday and were fortunate to meet our neighbours Norma and Umberto. They invited us for tea and they showed us around their garden. There was a small tree with the most beautiful orange/red flower. It’s pomegranate we were told and we decided that it would be one of the first shrubs we bought for the garden.

The following year we planted one but since then we have had only one or two flowers and never the hint of a fruit. But this year it is covered in flowers and hopefully we might get our first pomegranates.

When we had commented to Norma about how lovely the pomegranate flower was  she promised to bring us one of the fruits. This she did and told us that we had to keep it as tradition says that it will bring weatlth. The dried pomegranage is still sitting on the fire place but the wealth hasn’t arrived. Perhaps it will finally arrive with the first fruits.

A good choice

Monday, May 16th, 2011
ornithogalum ornithogalum magnum

In the autumn of last year Pam from Tavernelle showed us a bulb catalogue. We selected some tulip bulbs which she kindly ordered for us. Apart from the tulips we also ordered some bulbs of “Ornithogalum magnum”. We had never seen this before but in one of the gardening books there was a picture of an attractive white plant with a white star shaped flower – its common name is Star of Bethlehem (photo on left). So we decided to buy it. What a good buy!  The variety Ornithogalum magnum (right)is very showy as you can see. Hasn’t quite the delicacy of the standard variety but its looks very exotic and seems to have about 100 star of bethlehem plants on one stem. Very glad we bought it.

1 Green Bottle

Sunday, May 1st, 2011

glass bottle Last week someone left 5 large green bottles behind the recycling bins. They are the type of green bottles that in the 60s and 70s people used to make “bottle gardens”. Even Pam Roscoe admitted to having done it in her time. And apparently the fashion is making a come back – at least according to the gardening page of the Telegraph. A new book by Tovah Martin shows what can be done in “terrariums. Obviously from the picture it can be seen that they the new “terrariums” are more elegant than a large green bottle.
However, I have opted to leave my green bottle empty and to set it at the bottom of a set of steps I recently made. These new steps make coming down from the terrace slightly easier and the bottle helps cover a drain. 

First heat wave

Monday, April 11th, 2011
red tulips yellow tulips

In the last few days we have had our first heat wave of the year. The temperatures during the day went up to 30 degrees C (82 degrees F). This is the hottest April temperatures in 100 years and there were even reports of italians swimming in the sea at Torrette.

However, the next few days should see the return to seasonal norms and even some more rain.

In the garden a few days of warm weather means the clay soil is already beginning to crack on the surface. However, it remains damp underneath and everything is shooting up. The daffodils are finished, the tulips are in their prime and most things, including the grasses that Bill planted last year, seem to have survived the winter.

Early Spring?

Sunday, February 6th, 2011
garden jan 2011 garden jan 2011

After weeks of grey, cloudy, cold, miserable weather the sun has finally arrived. A strong anticyclone is covering most of Italy and they are predicting 2 weeks of warm spring like weather.

And so for the first time this year I was able to get out and potter in the garden. It almost had the feeling of coming out of hibernation.  Walking across the field to speak to our neighbour Sanzio I noticed that the daisies and the creeping buttercups were already out in the fields. Sanzio (photo 2)  was out pruning his fruit trees. Sanzio is our source of agricultural advice. His attitute to working in the garden is “piano, piano” i.e. slow and steady. He is incredibly systematic, finishing one job before going onto the next. When we first started to prune our olive trees Sanzio came across to show us how to do it. He said he would show us one tree. He started to clip  A clip here and a clip there and he continued to clip steadily finishing 3 trees before he decided to hand over the secateurs.