8 Nov 2018

Our time in Italy October 2018: the garden


Regular readers of my blog will know that each time we go over to the house in Italy we find plenty of work to keep us busy! We were there in April/May and indoors was just as we left it, of course, but you can imagine that's not true of the land around the house.  The grass was once more a meadow and the trees and bushes were in need of drastic pruning.  There's never enough time to do it all so the usual round of garden jobs continue.
The first thing to do was to call the man with the tractor and cutting machine to come and cut the grass.  Fortunately he was able to come during the first few days of our stay.  Despite the long grass I was keen to go out and collect the apples, walnuts and hazelnuts that were ready for gathering.  We have two walnut trees and one hazelnut tree and there were plenty of nuts that had recently fallen to the ground.  
A brother-in-law comes and looks after the grape vines on the pergola, but he's now experiencing serious health problems and has a lot to do keeping up with his own work on the land so we don't expect him to do anything except come when he can with my sister-in-law, keep an eye on the property and gather the grapes to put with his own to make some wine.  This season some members of the family came to gather the grapes, but only gathered some of them because they found hornets had got there first.  Also a section of the pergola on which the vines grow had collapsed.  The time had come for us to make a decision about the vines especially as Mr P got stung by a hornet.  Thankfully he quickly applied antihistamine cream on the sting, but he said it was very painful for days.  Hornets can be very dangerous if you're allergic to their sting so they were a real worry. We decided to dismantle the pergola where it had fallen down and completely cut down the vines leaving only two or three table grape plants, including the strawberry grape vines, that have sentimental meaning for us, being the first vines planted when we were living permanently in the house.
Here are some photos of progress during the month's stay:-






Our organic Golden Delicious type apples - we had enough for our short time at the house and gave the rest to a niece who made apple pies with them. The windfalls were passed on to her father for the sheep.



The strawberry grapes were beginning to dry out and would have turned into raisins if left in the sun.


They were a tasty addition to my breakfast cereal of a few rice krispies along with some golden raisins and the walnuts that I gathered, cleaned and cracked open.



some of the walnuts and table grapes


The weather was perfect for airing linen, drying washing on the balcony whilst the neighbour with the tractor and cutter was able to mow the grass.  From this angle on the balcony you can see how wild the oleander bushes and grape vines growing on the pergola had become since May when Mr P had done some pruning.  It only takes some sun and rain for everything to become a jungle once more.





Taking down the pergola where it had collapsed, clearing the vine branches before cutting down the plants.


  
We had several bonfires after trimming the bay trees, front garden hedges and other green branches and that was actually good fun.  After pruning the dry vine stems, fruit tree branches etc. they were stored for use in the wood burner. We didn't need to light fires, but we did so a couple of times just to make sure the central heating system was working and the chimneys were clear. 


upstairs living room


There's an open fire facility in the downstairs kitchen which we don't usually light as the rooms here are for Summer use only. It throws out a lot of heat. You can just see the triangular trivet hanging on the brick wall in the fireplace. It's only an ornament now, but one like this would have been placed on the embers with a large pot for cooking stews or for cooking pasta.  
I love the smell of wood smoke from indoor fires and bonfires during the early days of Autumn in Italy. 



the pergola and flower bed finally cleared and tidy


22 comments:

  1. your property and home is so beautiful and it is sad to me to know that you can't take care of it and that some had to go, the vines I mean. have you ever thought of moving to it year round? it looks like paradise to me.

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    1. No it's not possible to be in Italy year round and we wouldn't want to even though we enjoy being there. We like our UK lifestyle, home and spending time with our family. We can continue to hire others to cut the grass, trim the hedges and prune the trees. The grape vines take a lot of work in order to produce a quantity of wine. It was no problem to cut the plants down.

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  2. You did a great job in your Italian garden making it much less labour intensive without the pergola. It is wonderful having plenty of land when you are younger, but as you get older the jobs become harder and harder to accomplish. We are finding our garden far too large and it is difficult for us to keep on top of all the jobs that need doing. We now are increasingly resorting to paying gardening contractors to come and help us out.

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    1. There comes a time when decisions have to be made how best to maintain a large garden. Family have been good at helping out, which we have appreciated, but the in-laws are elderly. We ourselves have come to terms with the fact that we can't do the jobs that we did when we were younger. There are several local small businesses we can use instead.

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  3. The grounds are beautiful and those fires idyllic. It must be hard for you to leave it behind.

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    1. We always enjoy our home-from-home times in Italy, but we soon get back into our familiar routine on our return from a trip.

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  4. Nuts, hazelnuts and strawberry grapes are fantastic plants to possess!

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    1. I was particularly pleased to have been able to collect the walnuts and fruit.

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  5. Goodness what a job! At least you collected a few very tasty treats for your labour. 😊

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    1. It was satisfying being able to pick up the fallen nuts and pick the fruit. I don't like anything going to waste. We could share with the family although they do have plenty of their own produce. The walnuts are a particular treat, however.

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  6. Such a blessing of bounty to enjoy while you were there Linda. Are you able to bring the nuts home with you? Your Italian home is just so lovely and peaceful looking. I too love bonfires in the fall. Hopefully, there will be less to do the next time you are there. Now it's time to come home to winter and all the lovely holidays to look forward to. You truly have the best of both worlds. Blessings to you and Mr. P.

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    1. It's a relief not to have so many grape vines. We've kept a few and we do have some in our UK garden that give us pleasure as more of an ornamental plant although they have produced some ripe bunches this year after such a sunny Summer. I'm going to make some grape jelly with them. We've not had the problem with hornets until the last couple of years. There must be a nest, but we didn't find one. My dear sister-in-law and her husband both have developed health problems so we didn't want them to feel they needed to come and tend the vines. They have enough to do on their own land. My brother-in-law makes his wine for hospitality otherwise none of us oldies drink quantities of wine. It's always nice to drink wine that's produced in the home knowing it's pure, fermented juice with nothing added. The vines need tending especially at certain times of the year, especially the March pruning. Now we can decide when we go over to Italy in late Springtime if our own health stays stable. I dried, cleaned and shelled the walnuts so that they were easier to bring home. Others were given to family. Thank you for coming by Gloria. It was good to hear from you.

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  7. Oh to have a villa in Italy!💕

    Dear Linda, here I am at last and I’ve loved reading your post about your garden in Italy.
    Your house and garden looks beautiful and you must enjoy spending part of the Summer there. Those grapes look delicious!
    I take my hat off to you both for managing two properties. I imagine your children love taking their families over to Italy at holiday time and meeting up with their Italian cousins and wider family.

    My husband and I are well into our seventies now and we find it hard to keep up with the regular maintenance needed on our small townhouse.
    We’re lucky our son has returned from Australia and is living here now - he has been cleaning roof guttering and replacing the odd roof tile - neither of us can climb ladders any more - way too risky at our age!
    I still tend my little garden but the hedge cutting is a chore now.

    Like you I love the smell of a wood fire, it takes me back to my childhood sitting by the fire in winter, my parents listened to various British radio programs like “Take it from Here” and “Much Binding on the Marsh”!! I have listened to them on YouTube recently and the memories are wonderful!

    I hope you are both well, I don’t know if I have got your email I will check. You can always contact me - the email is on the right hand side of my blog.
    Love
    Shane xx

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    1. Dear Shane, I was so pleased to hear from you. I thought you had stopped blogging for some reason. Many of my old blog friends no longer blog so I was delighted to receive your news and to know that you, your husband and son are all well. It's good that you have your son to help around the home with bigger tasks. I will look up your email address on your blog page and write to you. I don't always pick up emails either and I have a new address that you won't have got. Mention of those old radio programmes bring back memories of listening to them with my Grandma. I can even remember the Much Binding in the Marsh signature tune! I didn't know you can listen on YouTube. It's a good way of being entertained. Speak to you soon, love Linda xxx

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  8. Your garden is wonderful, Linda but I can see how much hard work it would be so it is a good idea to pare down some of the plants and vines. I remember those nasty hornets from a friend's garden in France, we visited when her plum trees were ready and the hornets prevented us from eating outside under the trees. I've enjoyed looking at all your photos:)

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    1. Thank you for coming by Rosie. I'm glad that you enjoyed looking at the photos. I try to write about something new although it's the same sort of maintenance garden work that needs doing each time we're there. The hornets were drawn to the figs too, but the trees are not so near the house. A positive aspect was the beautiful butterflies that were feasting on the dripping sugary content in the split, overripe. thank goodness I have a zoom lens on my camera to capture some shots of them!

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  9. So beautiful! I also love the smell of a fire, both inside and outside. We can't build outside fires in the city any longer and I miss that. How wonderful to collect what gifts from nature with fruit and nuts in your garden.

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    1. Fire is an asset, but it can be terrible. I have been thinking of the people in California who have been caught up in the wildfires and the devastation these are causing. We've experienced them in Italy too and we only light a small bonfire of green twig trimmings in a clear space in the cool of an Autumn evening. The dry branches are cut up and stored for an indoor fire. The fruit and nuts were indeed gifts that we appreciated.

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  10. I do enjoy hearing all about your wonderful Italian house, how fabulous to have have all those nuts and grapes. I just love logburners too, I am enjoying mine as I type.xxx

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    1. I'm glad you're enjoying your logburner. It's that time of the year when you need some heating on. I can imagine the doggies get close up to it too!

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  11. Such a lovely post.
    Your Italian home looks so lovely.
    I love the sound of 'organic Golden Delicious type apples' yum!

    All the best Jan

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    1. Thank you Jan. All the best to you too.

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Thank you for your kind comment which is much appreciated. Have a lovely day.