When we travelled out to Lazio last year we had an overnight at a green hospitality b&b between Lakes Como and Lugano just over the border from Switzerland. The place was run ecologically, they grew food for their guests organically and reduced their impact on the earth, we loved it.Our host Samuel and his staff were charming, happy to chat about their ethos and show us round the beautiful grounds. This is their natural swimming lake, the water cleaned through reed beds, no need for harsh chemicals and any leaves or debris simply fished out with a net.
I told Samuel I hadn’t seen my Italian garden for 8 months and was worried about how it would be when we arrived in high summer. He smiled and said it would probably surprise me and have managed perfectly well without me. He was quite right, hardly anything had died, we weren’t overrun with weeds and we soon caught up with our orchard planting to enjoy another summer of flowers fruit and vegetables.
I often think of this valuable advice, which was confirmed again last week. We called at the local vineyard for 10 litres and while MrFF was inside I took a walk round the gardens. The winery is a lovely old property with large porticos with lots of tubs of dark red roses in full bloom and a large table with many chairs for convivial long lunches. The owners house nearby is very beautiful, white and modern with a glass balustraded balcony and large patio both dotted with big weathered pots of colourful annuals and geraniums. I spotted in a gap in the terrace an enormous Amaryllis with at least 50 big blooms. The mother of the family came out when she’d served MrFF and told me the plant was there when they arrived many years ago, a single bulb growing out of the concrete. She said apart from giving it water now and then they ignored it. I’ve seen amaryllis growing in waste land here or in pots so if I have one as a house plant afterwards I put the bulb into the ground. Now have 3 in the border and I noticed recently that one plant has a large bud. I told the lady how excited I was about this single flower and she laughed when I said one day mine might be like hers.I’m thinking of writing a book about this laissez faire style of gardening, about sitting back and just letting the plants get on with it. That’s it written really, nothing more to say.