Friday, June 26, 2009


Last October the garden was bare.
The hardscaping was finally completed.
The landscaping was still to begin.
We got into a seed mood.
Getting a head start on spring.

Rudbeckia Hirta - Black eyed Susan's are our greatest success.

We planted too many so we have been handing out trays and trays of them to friends and passerbyers (just like the tomatoes as you may recall).

The seeds were put in the ground October 18th.
Lovingling cared for all winter by mom and planted in the ground in April.

They are proud, sturdy, full and cheerful. Wonder what the garden would have been like without them.
The seeds I bought from said that these Rudbeckias are called My Joy but some funny things are happening and I will share the other species that popped out with you all.

My little yellow army.
Great for cut flowers, last forever in fresh water and look beautiful with hint of lavander.

This is the predominant flower therefore I'm sure it's a My Joy!

These others have a character of their own. Help us give them a name.
I will surely collect and seperate the seeds for future swap!

Have a very Black Eyed Susan Day!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Epiphany n. 1

As Children we behaved to avoid a punishment.
Most Kids today behave to obtain a prize.

No wonder the upsidedown society.

What happens when you run out of prizes?

Friday, May 29, 2009

leave the fragrance to your immagination

My roses lived in pots. They recieved a great deal of attention but the discomfort in their "root prison" was undeniable.
Now they all live in Crops in a Castle with their roots free to wiggle around and stretch into the soil.
This one has found the perfect home. Mostly sun, part shade, surrounded by Giant Ornamental Garlic and a sphere of lavender that travelled with us all the way from Provence when it was a little over a stem.
These two companions, along with some "perfect pruning" (mine) tunned her into the healthy plant she is today.
The aphids did obviously try to tackle her but some home made nettle spray did the trick.
Some hand picking the larva and beetles off the plants on a daily basis also determined the success of my pest protest!

As for the other Roses.
- a climber ended up in a waterlogged spot and succumbed before we had time to notice and save it.
- another lovely English rose lacked attention and underwent "pitiful pruning" (mine alas) and will hopefully recover with some love and care.
- a miniature rose is doing great this year right beside a Santolina and a Calendula that are, I discover hands on, a lot better than the garlic and lavender in keeping the aphids away. There is a bit of fungus on the rose, but not as bad as the previous years.
- last but not least, a rose that has been surviving rather than living in a pot for years is now looking lush and luxurious with its rich foliage and hopefully will bloom soon so I can share her with you all.

Remember to prune during the blooming period to keep the roses healthy. Remove 4/5 leaves below the bloom at an outward facing leaf. If you let your roses go by mid summer they will look like a stork trying to piggy back a rhinoceros.
Take care all....

P.S I'm back in Milan for the Long weekend. We celebrate our Republic on Tuesday here in Italy, or whatever is left of it!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


The temperature has sky rocketed and the garden has turned into a Burning Bazar...

Weird Creatures are Lurking in the Leaves.
Tiny Plants have turned into Towers.
Fungus and Mold are having a Ball.
Aphids are Appetizing on the Apple trees.

Every morning I set off to water the garden and tackle a bit of maintanence when BAM!
I see something new... something scary.... something crawling
I then run out of the garden, across the town, into the house, no wait, take off your dirty shoes, into the house, up the stairs.... at the computer... no wait... hands full of dirt... wash your hands... back to the computer... search: Images, symptoms, causes, natural remedies...
Back and forth a million times a day these days!

All this under 35°C.

I think my neighour Peppe thinks I'm completely nuts.

I just wasn't prepared.

I will share some tips I've learned to save you from my mistakes..

1. I was seeing little yellow eggs on my string beans.... yuck.... I thought.... squash.... I went.... then I got a doubt... researched and discovered that they were Ladybug eggs.
Look up what the ladybug larve look like (nothing pretting) cuz I was killing those too! Shame.

2. Pole all beans, peas and string beans even if they are shrubs. They will need the support. If not they will slump onto the ground and develope mold. Very invasive. I learned the very hard way. Losing most of my potential peas.

3. Companion Planting: I planted basil close to a funky nettle forest. The basil stayed 1 inch high and unhealthy until we clipped off the nettle. It is growing fine now. The nettle is hanging to dry in the cellar for a wonderful winter tea.

4. Sow what you need. Not a seed more. We have a terrace invaded with plants in tiny pots that need a lot of attention. We don't have space for them all in the vegetable garden and we don't have the heart to throw them out so we are handing out trays to all those who are interesed. And yet there are still lots. Anyone in the Umbria region interested?

5. Only plant certified potatoes. How many times have you read that? Yeah me too. I planted all certified and one store bought cuz it was soooo good. Guess what? We've got potato blight also from that one nasty potato.

That's all for todays tips. One more success picture to cheer us up!
Take care all...

Saturday, May 16, 2009

pretty leaves on pink marble benches

Nadia, you would have had a great time with me today in Milan.
The thing is that Nadia (my zia/ aunt) and I love to walk.
It would be very hard to catch us on a beach sunbathing but you can bet we'll hike you through the most beautiful sites of any city with a broad smile on our face!

This morning I crossed the city of Milan to reach the tiny but stunning Guastalla Gardens.
It was a two hour walk there and another two back but there are so many pedestrian areas in Milan that you enjoy the surroundings without the noise and traffic.

The Gardens were worth the walk. It is mostly a tree garden. Large impressive and unusual trees stand out on the tidy lawn.
When you have a small garden at home you could never dream of planting trees that become this big.
The impression you get in Guastalla is of protection.
It is like being in the presence of kind giants.
And those giants are made of millions of tiny and pretty leaves I want to share with you.

Two more details of the Gardens and then I am off to see the documentary
Terra Madre directed by Ermanno Olmi.

Take care all, have a nice week end.