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Garden visits - the wild and woolly way

Posted by Catharine on August 7th 2014
A couple of times a year, I put together a list of gardens and a bunch of us pile into a mini-bus and drive off to visit them.  Planning blind,  the aim is to visit two back to back for contrast in a day.  And when we get the contast, it is beautiful.  Take this day in Umbria, a month or two back. First, La Scarzuola.  Named for some funny little plants living there and a former hermitage site for St Francis.  It was bought by Tomaso Buzzi in the 1930s and has been developed as an Escheresque agglomeration of scaled down buildings.  It is thoroughly esoteric and bewildering, but guided by the indomitable Brian who never drew breath, we were piloted up and down staircases - into mini theaatres and fed anecdotes by the minute.    The place is a serious play on scale,  a theatrical wonder and makes you reach around for an opera to put on in the natural amphitheatre round the back.  Buzzi, dead some 30 years,  stated clearly that he wanted nature to take back over, brambles to snatch up his buildings and plasterwork to crumble.  His nephew, who inherited,  has not allowed that to happen and though set in aspic, it is astonishing and well worth a visit.  Immaculately kept, there are no weeds here. From there it was twisty map reading  hour to get to Lake Trasimeno, which is an immense extinct volcanic crater.  Giardorto, Daniela Fe d"Ostiani's garden hangs on the hillside with a direct view down through olive groves to the water - far from sparkling on our wet day out. Daniela is a garden designer, rosarian and passionate plant collector. I am going to add Anglophile to that list - for her command of English, love of England and as to  the garden, so bursting with plants  that it feels English until you rake your eyes down the extraordinary view.  We walked through dripping bowers, through gates to hidden small rooms and crept round flaying roses. And she fed us on enormous sage leaves dipped in batter.  She told us not to look at her weeds and we didn't but it had the soft woolliness to its edges.  Buzzi would have sighed with envy.
Garden visits - the wild and woolly way