8 November 2011

It’s misty-mellow finally and the colours are tipping into very autumnal. But it’s still up to 16 degrees most days, which doesn’t stop us having to light the stove here inside where generally it’s several degrees cooler than out. There were a couple of days the week before last when the thick thick mist never lifted, leaving me in my own little world – and it was very much my own, as L was off in Leyden on a film festival jury and I was here, working on my Tarquinia project and hibernating (is there an autumn equivalent of that?) in a very hermit-y way.

It was wistful rather than creepy, but I was thankful at least that the evenings were still acceptably long. The terrible plunge into mid-afternoon gloom came while we were in Rome, where day and night merge into one without you noticing it, so that softened the blow. I do hate it when the clocks go back. If I had my way I’d move them forward another hour and leave them there all year. That way we get to see more sunrises – such a rare excitement for late-rising me – and all those morning hours when I’m in my AM zombie state would be concealed by darkness: far better. For me at least.

I’ve been terribly lazy in my garden since the change of the season. Just as well I have Manuela, the timid – almost translucent – German girl who comes here and potters about, pulling up the worst of the weeds which, of course, have had no frosts or meteorological shocks yet to stop them popping up everywhere. But I do need to pull myself together, stop working on my various plans, and get out there for some essential maintenance and some redesigning too. When he came down the other day to deliver a customer’s bill, dear Giuseppe my bulldozer boy spoke very scathingly of the state of the car park gravel (which, as he put it there, he feels is his responsibility). I need to push it all into shape.

Having such an usual number of projects buzzing about, combined with the energy-sapping seasonal change, has kept me far too much at my computer. That said, this morning was so utterly beautiful that I couldn’t sit inside a moment longer and hit the lawns with the rake.

When you have lawns like mine – basically, fields which are kept cut short – you can’t get away without spring and autumn scarifying. But the same goes for most lawns around here, even the poshly pampered ones which tend to be over-fed and over-watered, and therefore so thick that come mid-season, they’re suffocating themselves. Yet most Italians (and Manuela) seem to think that lunging at it with a springy rake to remove all the dead grass and moss is an odd idea. I remember last year up at a neighbour’s, the gardener staring at me when I raked handfuls of dead grass out of his emerald green swathe as if I must have come along the night before and planted it there for effect.

The net result of this is (for the moment at least) rather scraggy looking lawns. And, for me, a crippling pain beneath my right shoulder blade. (I wonder if my Pilates class this evening helped or worsened the ache?) But it will all look wonderful come spring. At least, I cross my fingers and hope so.


In this strange season of people contacting me from all directions, I had another email this morning from an American lady with a small garden in the most extraordinary setting, in and overlooking the heart of Spoleto’s centro storico. I hope this one comes off too: it would be a wonderful project to work on.


About Gardens, Food & Umbria

I am a garden designer, working throughout central Italy. I have lived in Italy for over 30 years – for many years in Rome but now in the wilds of Umbria where I have fixed up one wreck of a house, am working on another, and tinker endlessly with two and a half hectares of land, some of which is my garden.
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2 Responses to 8 November 2011

  1. Melodie Woods says:

    Ciao cara,
    As I read this post, I imagined myself there – breathing in that lovely wood-scented air, drinking red wine in front of your toasty fireplace on a late autumn evening…
    I am way overdue for a visit.

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