Verona, Italy: Giardino Giusti (Part One)

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After our photo storage debacle—and the loss of almost all of my images of the Giardini Botanici Hanbury—I was determined to go to another of Italy’s great gardens so as to provide at least one great series of photos on this blog. Little did I know that I would soon be seeing one of Italy’s greatest gardens, and one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen in my life. IMG_1144

By this point in our trip I was not feeling well. My chronic health issues were causing a great deal of distress but I was determined to drive there. (I should add here that my husband doesn’t drive in Italy and cannot drive a manual shift car.) Luckily, we still had a FIAT Abarth, so getting to where we needed to go was not an issue.

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Note the heavy wood ceiling. Veneto is full of thick heavy wood. This is very different from many of the other regions of Italy. 

The garden is considered one of the finest examples of an Italian garden.IMG_1153 Created in the sixteenth-century, this is an Italian Renaissance garden. There are many styles of gardens in Europe—and I’m still far from an expert on this subject—but seeing this garden really inspired me to learn more. (I think my next trip will most certainly be a more in-depth exploration of great gardens.)

As a life-long tree hugger, I had to hug this “trunk of an old existing cypress in the garden in the fifteenth century.” It’s not quite a Californian redwood, but I was impressed and had nothing more than thoughts of the many people who’d been here before me.

The traditional plant palette of an Italian garden is quite limited and involves a lot of mass plantings of evergreen plants for an astonishing effect that simply must be seen in person.

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A Parthenocissus vine covers the wall and makes a fine green drape. 

Like any great garden, it transports you to another place, another level of existence, and it leaves you in awe. It also left me wanting to never leave. IMG_1159

For me, what started as a spiritual feeling left me that day with a sense of splendor and ecstatic sensation.

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If you look closely at the top of the hill you’ll see Il mascherone or a gargoyle. It is a man’s face and was originally designed to have flames coming out of his mouth. The entryway you see is an entrance to a grotto but sadly there is no more water inside. (You will see a photo of it in an upcoming post.) By the way, all the classical elements are represented in the garden. 

As I told my husband, any great garden should leave you with a feeling of hysteric pleasure—for some this might be a restrained thing, but for me, a girl raised on the Left Coast of the United States, I just wanted to party. (I will leave you with that without going into further detail.) IMG_1171

The garden is known for its terraces and its labyrinth. A traditional Italian garden is very green. This is in such sharp opposition to the usual colors of towns, and you’ll see this in upcoming images. IMG_1172It truly is a feast for your eyes and why not send your husband off into the labyrinth? I was fairly certain that Minos was still in Greece and that John would not encounter a minotaur here although I thought about it. That’s what these gardens were intended for, and so I let my mind be transported back to the ancient classical stories of Italy and Greece. (I should also add that all references to Catholicism have been removed. I will get to that in later posts as well.)IMG_1175It should come as no great surprise to you that food is important in Italy and all great Italian gardens will have citrus. The lemon is known to have arrived in Italy during the time of classical Rome.IMG_1177In the next two posts we’ll walk to the top of the garden. This is a garden seen in layers, with so many beautifully designed angles. Everywhere you look, you see beauty.

When You’re Not Really in the Garden

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These last 3 weeks I’ve meant to be here more, and I’ve meant to be in my garden, but the medical requirement to walk 15-20 miles per week has been taking up a lot of my time.
Just a few weeks back, I had the pleasure of walking 6 miles during a really great thunderstorm. Yes, this was classic Portland in the spring.
From the Hawthorne District, I could look back and see where I’d come from and at this point I was a bit worried about the rain that was coming. (Mt Tabor is the green hill you can see far off in the distance.)
By the time the rain started to pour, I was already well on my way home.
Wet and cold, the sky continued to darken but the sunset was nice that night.
Rosa ‘Golden Showers’.
When I go on my walks, as I round the corner for home, I can now see my roses blooming more and more frequently. Sometimes I think of my garden as one big neon billboard exclaiming some really colorful person lives here. I like it this time of year as the jungle begins to take over and there is a different world outside my window.
Oftentimes I see gardens that I think look nice, but are too patterned. I might have a jungle, but these lines really fascinate me because they boggled my brain a bit. I’d rather have a jungle.
Always before reaching home I wander the reservoir at Mount Tabor Park to get in some extra miles. It is such a beautiful place to walk. I walk over the hill you see there in the background and reach home that way. It is such a wonderful place to live.
This past Sunday I walked to the store to purchase ingredients for a lemon tart I was making for a party later that evening and I ran into what I later discovered was a swarm of bees. It was just waiting here until the group could determine where to go. What an amazing thing to watch. One moment it was there, the next it was gone. I wish I could have seen them at the moment when they all flew away.

Later that same day, after the tart was partially completed, I walked over to Portland Nursery to purchase some heirloom tomato plants from myself and a friend. Along the way I spotted this old mattress frame being used as a trellis support. This isn’t exactly my style, but I do love its lines and conical rust-colored squiggles as the grid floats there in the air.

Yes, I am sure this post is a bit random, but when you’re not really in the garden, so often you are, aren’t you?

Quarryhill Botanical Garden (Glen Ellen, CA)

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Quarryhill Botanical Garden was the first stop on our California trek. Located in Glen Ellen (CA) it is one of the pre-eminent Asian botanical gardens in the United States. If you have not heard of it, be sure to check out the link above. I would have written more, but this trip is keeping me very busy.

Enjoy the images below and I am so sorry there are not more at this time. We were talking a lot to a friend of my husband’s about all kinds of wine vine, plant, and horticultural topics so my mind was happily swimming in the mire of words when I should have been snapping pictures.

Golden Larch (Pseudolarix amabilis).
Keteleeria davidiana.
Keteleeria davidiana.
Rhododendron spinuliferum.
Alnus formosana.
Idesia polycarpa.
Idesia polycarpa.
Leycesteria formosa.
Pinus taiwanensis.