4 Aug 2013

Italy: maintaining the land

As you can see, I'm still writing about our recent time in Italy although we're now back in England.
The above photo was taken at the top of the land at the back of the house standing underneath a walnut tree.  The first job that needed to be done was to cut the grass as creepy crawlies, especially snakes near the house is not good. I prefer a garden that's not too neat and tidy and blends in with the fields around the house, but if the grass was not cut it would soon get out of control.
The grass is mowed several times in the short time we are at the house.  Unfortunately this area of the land is on a steep slope and it's not an easy job.

The weather is not always sunny.  The average weather pattern whilst we were there in July was usually blue skies in the early morning, cloudy interludes in the afternoon and then a 'golden hour or two' in the late afternoon when the dark clouds had blown over. One day we had a sudden hail storm - more about that another time.

There was a mixture of wild flowers amongst the grasses (common vetch, chamomile, tansy, wild campanula, chicory etc.) and there are wild vines that continue to shoot up from the time when DH had cultivated a small vineyard and then cut it down because it was getting too much for him to maintain, gather the grapes and drink the quantities of wine that was made (or give it away since everyone had their own). It's unlikely we shall get rid of them as we still have some old vines in the front garden from the time when the land was cultivated by my husband's father.

The chicory is an interesting plant.  In the summer months you can recognise the plant because of the blue flowers on woody stems.  My sister-in-law gathers the leaves in Springtime when they are very tender and she likes to gather it from our land because she knows that everything grown on our land is organic.  She cooks it like you would spinach.

(Of course, the wild flowers attract insects and it's good to see the bees and we know that the grass will soon shoot up again.  The field at the top of the hill has'nt been farmed for years and is used to keep horses for trekking so there's plenty of uncultivated land for the wild bees and the butterflies).