Giardini della LandrianaMay 11, 2015 in Italy ⋅ 21 °C
Amazingly, today is our final garden day and as a contrast to gardens of the past, we drove out to visit Giardini della Landriana which occupies 25 acres and was bought by the Taverna family as bare land surrounding the house in 1954, with no garden what so ever. Lavinia Taverna has been the driving force in creating the beautiful garden you now see, together with input from the English Landscape Architect Russell Page. It is a clever mix of Italian formality and exuberant English planting style, with plants from all over the world living harmoniously side by side to glorious effect. A man made lake was dug out which Russell Page advised should not be too large and apparently every time he came to visit, it seemed to be larger! Lavinia clearly knew her own mind and whilst she was willing to listen to his advice, it was not followed slavishly, if her gut instinct told her otherwise. Formal and informal rooms open and close as you wander through the garden and the combinations of plants are inspiring. It is of course much easier to create a series of strong gardens within a garden when you have the space to play with. A recurring theme is the restriction of the species planted together in any one space, which adds to the rhythm of the garden. There is a long walk of olives trees under planted with pink shrub roses and edged with a pretty variegated hebe. Standing tall and spaced out at the back of the border are statuesque hydrangeas and clothing the wall behind a glorious wisteria . On the other side of the wide pathway is a clipped grey foliage hedge. It is a sight to behold, even though the roses were not quite at their best. Another week of this weather will see a cloud of pink blooms nestling under the grey/ green olive. The old fashioned Rose garden runs gently down the valley and was at its fragrant and stunning best and so cleverly under planted with undemanding, but attractive ground cover. The lake is ringed with flowering yellow flag iris and gradually the new leaves of the lotus are emerging from the water and will eventually completely cover the surface. It was beautiful today. A long white planted double border walk runs back up the garden from the lake, punctuated with the tall dark green cypress for strength and stability, which is so effective. There is a a moorish influenced water lily pond formally edged with liriope and terracotta pots of clipped box and yew. One of the cleverest rooms was pure Russell Page with a nod to Lavinia. A hedged room planted with Orange trees and under planted with a mix of red leaved, lime, apricot and lilac and purple flowers. There were two small ponds full of croaking toads and it was glorious to behold. I should mention that all is peaceful apart from the birdsong. We were accompanied by a cuckoo all around the garden, a bird we rarely hear now in England and the tap, tap tap of a woodpecker. This was a so different yet again to anything we have seen this week and a miracle of clever ideas and a testament to how quickly a garden will establish in such conditions. A lovely Mediterranean salad lunch was taken outside and we took our leave with some regret.
Our final afternoon was spent in Frascati at the Aldo Brandini villa and garden and here once more (if it that was possible ) was something else completely different. The words 'a gentle faded splendour' come to mind. Its situation high above the town of Frascati is fabulous, looking right out over the town and Roman plain with The Vatican and St Peter's dome on the horizon. The estate is still in the Aldo Brandini family and one can visit the grounds under one's own steam. It is quite a climb to the several different levels and there is a great deal of work to be done both to the planting and the structure, but this was obviously a tour de force in it's day. Facing the villa is what has been described as a water theatre and there is a balcony at the top of the house where the family and their guests would assemble to watch the show. A cascade runs down the slope between two pagodas and over the edge to drop in a curtain to the pool below. In an amphitheatre underneath are giant tableaux of the gods with their own fountains and centrally placed is Atlas with the world on his shoulders. This giant globe revolved due to careful application of the force of the water. A faded refection of it's former glory, this was in some ways quite sad to see, but perhaps a fitting reminder of how quickly man's achievements can fade into obscurity at the flick of a hand and the turning off of a historic switch of one type or another.
At this point there was only one thing to do - that's right find the nearest gelatoria! The final dinner at Villa Grazzioli was memorable, again for the sumptuousness of our splendid faded surroundings and the amusing attention of the ever present Claudio, who gives meaning to the phrase 'the charming Italian!' He was sorely tried this weekend I suspect, having being charged with keeping happy a tricky group of English guests who were irritated at being supplanted elsewhere, 55 toga loving swedes and to add insult to injury an family of Chinese who appeared to order the entire A la Carte menu and insist on photographing the arrival of every dish with great enthusiasm. It made for fascinating entertainment.
We have had a wonderful week, in great company and seen gardens that will for ever hold in the mind as some of the most beautiful examples of man's ingenuity in conjunction with the natural world. Thank you Lesley, John, Linda, Pat and Jane for making our Ruby Wedding week everything we could have hoped for.Read more