I’ve been on an amazing, lovely but at times stressful 7-month stay in Italy. Being an avid gardener and lover of all things botanical, I was thrilled to finally live somewhere with warm weather again so I could grow happy tomatoes outside. Yes, I’m really that simple of a person! If I can grow my own food, I’m content. Seeing three Donatello crucifixes and Giotto chapels seemingly around every corner is nice too, but heat and dirty fingernails really make me melt into a puddle of bliss.
I’m in the city centre, where land is at a premium, so apartment living. The terrace culture in Italy is as old as it’s architecture. Juliet’s famous monologue took place (allegedly) on a Verona terrace that you can go to today, but personally I’d prefer to walk through the narrow streets of Venice or any old city and gasp at the splashes of botanical colour dripping from most balconies. One has only to walk around a residential area and you will find gorgeous apartment terraces dotted with citrus trees and their railings spilling over with ivy and succulents. The odd thing is that yet the ground does not seem to be a place for cultivation at all until about May. Spare ground seems to only serve as a place to let your dog relieve itself. It’s such a very very odd change from Edinburgh, where any spare ground will surely have crocuses, snowdrops and or daffodils popping up in the spring, and a nicely mowed grass later in the spring and summer. And UK dog owners tend to be much better at picking up after their pets, but that’s a whole other rant for someone else’s blog.
Things perk up in Summer, but most gardens have perennial shrubs dotted around gardens instead of borders, and annuals are non-existent. The upside is that many of the perennials are things like jasmine and wisteria, and when they bloom, it’s like someone is spraying sweet perfume at you as you walk.