It's been over five months since the last time we were in our home in Italy as we didn't go in March, (the usual time when we go there so that my husband can prune the vines). As a brother-in-law looks after the vines he had already done this, so that was one less task to do in garden maintenance. My sister-in law goes with her husband which is very kind of her. Giving the house an airing and keeping the garden in good order is the priority and an important part of our time spent there. Seasons come and seasons go, but the cutting of the grass, the pruning of the trees, weeding etc. goes on forever. I hope regular readers of this blog won't be bored with the repetition of what we have to do in the garden and newer followers can read more about our times in Italy by clicking on the Italy link on the side bar.
Everything was going so well for the first few days we were there. The sun began to shine and we were ready to get going with the work in between food shopping, getting the car out and running and some leisure time in the local town. Then we picked up another cold etc. after attending a very enjoyable family party. Things didn't improve and eventually we made an appointment to see the doctor. There had been plans to replace the guttering, arrange for someone to paint the exterior walls (which would have needed scaffolding and dry weather), but in the end organising this big project didn't happen. Nevertheless, the grass got cut a couple of times using a high setting on the petrol mower, bushes got pruned and a balcony railing got painted with metallic paint (for low maintenance). Here are some before and after photos in and around the garden taken during April.
A pear tree to the left and an apricot tree (which had already blossomed).
Pear and plum trees grow at the bottom of the slope. There are white and purple figs, walnut and hazelnut trees.
My husband had planted some new rose bushes by the retaining wall and once the grass was cut you could see that they were doing well. In fact, roses are planted everywhere as they just ramble and mainly look after themselves. He's trying to keep hedges and bushes at a height that can be managed easily, apart from the bay tree arch, which needs a step ladder to trim the top of it.
We've been undecided about the cypress trees. They've grown much too tall and bushy even though they get thinned out each time and they also block the view across the countryside to the distant mountains. My husband only managed to cut the crown out of one of them and trim the branches that are growing too near a row of fruit trees. Then the branches have to be cut up and tidied away, which is time consuming.
As well as the pear blossom, the apple and peach blossom looks pretty and, of course, we hope there'll be no winds and frosts to damage the emerging fruit. My sister-in-law, as I've mentioned before, gathers our fruit and adds it to her own produce. If there's a glut of fruit she makes jam or bottles it.
It's a shame in a way that the grass has to be cut as there are lots of wild flowers in amongst the grasses that the bees and butterflies appreciate, but on the other hand it has to be done otherwise the grass would become a jungle and because snakes might lurk there. Mostly the snakes can be found in the bramble hedges at the back and one side of the property that grow on the surrounding uncultivated land. Instead, the long strands of grass once it dries out is used by the birds to build their nests. I got a surprise when I saw a small bird fly up next to the first floor kitchen window with these long pieces of grass in its beak and it probably landed on the roof. In fact, it's always interesting to see the different birds flying around. The swifts had returned and were swooping around so fast I couldn't get photos of them. There were blackbirds, larger birds that were possibly some sort of crow. Birds of prey were flying high up in the sky heading for the trees in highest part of the wooded hillside opposite our house.
I found some wild asparagus growing amongst the rose bushes and hedges in the front garden. Together with some that my sister-in-law had gathered on her land and the fresh eggs she gave me I made an omelette. You only use the tenderest tips as the stalk can be very woody in texture.
A young cherry tree in the foreground.
Time for some lunch bought at our nephew's deli and some wine (last year's grapes from our land put together with our brother-in-law's own harvest).
|the asparagus omelette|
I unpicked one of the squares on the blanket that the daughters had crocheted years ago as it had some broken threads in the middle. I used some of the yarn and some of my own to remake a new square. That blanket has become quite a comfort blanket as it's lovely and warm wrapped around my legs on chillier evenings.
Our time in Italy to be continued....