7 December 2013

One of the great things about weeding in December – I mean, apart from being outside in sparkling sunshine, beneath cloudless skies – is that you can be quietly confident that the pristine scene you create will remain that way for some time (give or take a falling leaf or two), rather than furiously filling itself up with weeds the moment your back is turned, as happens at so many times of year.


Shifting bushes.

I see that at this time last year I was being blasé about not having anything to do. Or rather, about not having to do anything. And I stand by that. Except this year, I have been so bad at getting outside at all for months that the whole place looks decidedly neglected, rather than neatly wintery, which is what I would like.

I love that look of freshly turned dark earth around stubs of perennials and roses which are looking rather leafless even as they flaunt their last little blooms: my Felicia outside the front door continues to waft the occasional breath of soft perfume my way as I pass. Things can be orderly in the winter garden is a very pleasing way, a full-of-promise way, a pared-back-to-basics way that has its special charm. As I have said before (probably many times), gardens which are just evergreens, always the same whatever the season, are terribly dull and rather sad.

This desire for winter order, coupled with the past few perfectly wonderful days, has meant that sticking to my timetable and getting my work done has gone a little bit by the board. Thank goodness it gets dark so early or I might never even glimpse at my computer.

That rather makes it seem like I’m pootling about in my own little world all the time. Only in my dreams. Today, admittedly, I slammed the top of my computer down and fled, mid-morning, into the sunshine, not to return until I had brought some more wood in for the stoves and admitted, finally, that the gloom was such tht I could see absolutely nothing any more. It felt glorious. But apart from that these have been stolen moments – well, stolen hours… but very few hours on any single occasion.


Wrangling for garden space.

Instead, I have been enjoying the winter sun (a couple of hard frosts, soon dissolved by the warmth) stalking around Margheriti selecting plants; wrangling with builders in Castiglione to make sure none of ‘my’ garden gets swallowed up by incipient driveway; trying to reconcile my hunches with what was drawn on the blueprint of another garden in Castiglione (what, no website page? why ever not?) but failing, mostly because the area out back is about 30 percent larger than what’s on paper (I now know, because I measured it, but which is correct? has my client ended up with more land that she’s entitled to?); and, perhaps most gratifyingly, shifting bushes about in another property not far from Orvieto –  a new project and one I think I’m going to have fun with.

About Gardens, Food & Umbria

I am a garden and landscape designer, working throughout central Italy and beyond. I have lived in Italy for over 35 years – first in Rome but now in Città della Pieve, Umbria, where I have restored my country home and transformed a medieval townhouse into three rental suites. To relax, I tinker endlessly with two and a half hectares of land, some of which is my garden.
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