-----In 2004 we bought a falling-down house and 30 acres. This blog documents our progress-----

Saturday, June 13, 2009

inspiration from Tuscany

We got back a few days ago from a short break in Tuscany, Italy. We stayed near Lucca with the aim of visiting lots of old villas and gardens. After reading the book "A Garden in Lucca" it was something I'd always wanted to do, although we unfortunately didn't get to visit the actual garden in the book as they only did group tours.

As per usual, I kept my eyes open for ideas for Amherst. We visited 5 gardens but our favourite by a mile was Villa Reale di Marlia. It was the largest and where Napoleon's sister lived. Here's some things I found that could be really interesting for Amherst...

I really liked this garden room, which had a central structure with vines all around and climbing over the roof. Might be an interesting alternative for the gazebo thingy in the middle of the walled garden, or as an outdoor lounging area in a corner of the secret garden? Or even perhaps up on a hill near the olives as part of a BBQ area? Maybe Dave could grow his grapes over something like this and not just on boring rows. :-)

Villa Reale di Marlia - 04 Villa Reale di Marlia - 05

I also liked the way they used little ditches of water flowing at ground level in the Spanish garden. It lead to a fountain at the end here, but I can imagine it working just as well without. There's a short video of it here, see especially the 2nd half, but the photos will give you the gist.

Villa Reale di Marlia - in garden at Giardino Spagnolo - 09 Villa Reale di Marlia - in garden at Giardino Spagnolo - 02

I was also intrigued by the way they used terracotta pots to make a garden. The Lemon tree garden at Villa Reale is supposedly famous for this, and because it gets to cold for them to survive the winters there, they have special orangeries (or actually they call them limoneries) where the pots get wheeled off to every winter. :-) This might be an interesting way of getting our "secret" garden in the courtyard going. We won't be able to plant things in the ground until the new house is built or else they'll just get trampled, but there's nothing stopping us from growing in pots which can then be carted off elsewhere when building starts...

Every garden we visited had a grotto style fountain. I didn't find them that appealing to be honest, with the exception of the one at Villa Reale which I liked for the simplicity of the steps shape...

Villa Reale di Marlia - in garden at Teatro dAcqua Fontane near villa - 2

Finally, my other big inspiration came not from a garden but from a tower. The Torre Guinigi in Lucca to be precise. It has trees growing at the top of the tower! Perhaps we should think about this for our mini-library tower... I suspect it would be an engineering nightmare and wouldn't pass any of the fire hazard criteria, but hey I can dream... ;-)

Lucca - Torre Guinigi - 12 Lucca - Torre Guinigi - 02

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