Il Giardino della Valle – The Garden of the Valley

 

It took a visit back to Italy, (five years after we left) to see a dear friend, to ‘discover’ this garden; a disgrace on my part given that we lived fairly close to Cernobbio for nearly a decade!

With little else to do on a January afternoon, when so much is closed to residents as well as tourists, we wandered along narrow streets to discover the garden. Our friend had been before, several years ago, and knew that it now suffered the same ‘neglect’ that all gardens do when you are less able to attend to its daily needs.

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I was not disappointed in the way it looked. It is obvious that in the spring and summer months there would be more colour but the wildness and slightly unkempt look is so much my kind of garden, so like nature.

The following text is taken from the notice board in the garden – ‘Pupa Frati began creating The Valley Garden in the early 1980s. She transformed the banks of the Garrovo stream from an illegal dump into the beautiful garden that exists today with the occasional collaboration of a few keen friends. In 2001 the Association of The Valley Garden was formed in order to guarantee the conservation, the upkeep and the improvement of the garden. In 2002 the botanical trail was inaugurated. Following this trail allows you to observe all the diverse botanical species present in the garden.’

Pupa Frati is now 94 years of age.

We entered the garden from the top, (having walked up the road which runs parallel to the garden), here the Garrovo stream can be heard, rippling downwards towards the lake, round stones and boulders. However, with the dryness of the previous months, the stream ceased moving further down the garden. A narrow path and steps take you down the valley, with places to rest and enjoy the vista.

Owl in a ring PSH

Large wooden statues punctuate the garden. A narrow bridge crosses the valley – it was at this point the water just lay instead of flowed – and sadly a conifer, with layered flat branches, spread itself too far to take a picture back up the valley.

Hedgehog PSH

If you ever find yourself in Cernobbio or nearby please seek this gem out.

Villa Bernasconi, Cernobbio

This Art Nouveau villa designed by Alfredo Campanini at the beginning of the 20th century for Davide Bernasconi can be found in Cernobbio. The stucco decoration on the external facades include flowers, butterflies, and mulberry leaves and silk worms linked to the silk production industry. Davide Bernasconi owned a silk factory nearby.

I found it both beautiful and slightly grotesque too…the decorations certainly weren’t subtle but they were marvellous too. Unfortunately it was closed when we visited, though you can walk through the grounds and see the building from each angle..the rear of the property is the plainest.

Huntes Gardens, Barbados

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Possibly the most magical garden I have ever been in. Of all the grand and small places I have visited, brilliantly designed or cleverly planted, or both, this garden surpasses all others. It has a heavenly feeling; enhanced by the classical music that Anthony Huntes filters through the foliage, mingling with the muted hummingbird birdsong.

You are greeted with statues, and theatrical areas – like stage sets for entertainment on a grand scale.

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Narrow paths lead you downwards, with shorter tracks taking you to some vantage point with a couple of chairs, where you can sit and absorb the beauty of a particular vista.

Elegant, tall trees are the backbone of the garden, with lush layers of under planting, where foliage is the mainstay of the picture that is painted. It is here I realise, in this setting that I could live with foliage alone. The diversity of the leaves, not just in size and texture but in colour too, is evident in every turn of the head. Anthony’s love of orchids is peppered throughout the garden, with small pots of a single plant, balanced on a narrow wrought iron stem, many of which are at eye level.

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There are other plants that flower, some very showy with creamy/green bracts, through which thrusts a small single orange flower. Others hang from pinkish-red stems.

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Morgan Lewis Windmill, Barbados

Thanks to our wonderful hosts – during our recent trip to Barbados – we were taken on a drive around the island – and to our delight to Morgan Lewis Windmill, the only intact sugar mill remaining on the island, and one of only two in the Caribbean. The bodies of many now defunct mills can be still be seen but this one, maintained by the Barbados National Trust, includes an ‘exhibit of the equipment used to produce sugar at the time when the industry was run by wind power generated from mills such as this one.’ (www.barbados.org).

East Coast Barbados.jpgThe wildness of the eastern coastline, which this windmill overlooks is so different to the tranquility of St James where we were staying. Apparently, the air is so laden with salt that rust is a real problem, with the railings and the white goods within the properties that dot the hillsides. The surrounding area too, is reminiscent of parts of Scotland and is named the Scotland District.

Sadly the windmill was closed by the time we arrived but if we ever return to this beautiful island we will make a return visit.

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Penelope S Hellyer – Author

Where My Heart Is  – my first collection of poems, written over the last two decades has now been published by FeedARead. Available from both FeedARead and Amazon.

‘Where My Heart Is’ – comprises a collection of poems written during my time in the magical setting that was Orchards – my childhood home in Rowfant, Sussex where I also raised a family. My time there richly depicted in my book ‘The Haphazard Gardener’.

Memories both good and bad are portrayed in the poetry; which has always been a constant and important part of my life. The poems include observations from my surroundings, and the direction my life has taken. Many were written after I met my husband Philip, when life became calmer and I became more content.

I have included two poems by my granddaughter Erin McCarthy who – at the tender age of seven – has already been described by poet Sue Johnson as very talented.

Although I left this idyllic place in 2005, Orchards it is still where my heart is.

Fair Weather Gardeners

This piece is taken from ‘The Haphazard Gardener’ 

Fair weather gardeners may miss the subtleties of colour, texture and new buds forming. Thanks to Gay’s teachings and my passion for what I was doing, no matter what time of the year, my eyes and senses were constantly open and alert whilst I worked at Orchards.

As the herbaceous plants were cut back, rich brown compost was laid on the cleared borders. Dew laden spiders’ webs glistened in the early morning sun. Minute diamonds dripped from open panicles of panicum and miscanthus. Fluffy inflorescences’ of miscanthus now faded from the rich reddish-purple of the unfolding flowers which matured to a silvery hue then white to beige; closed tightly in the dampness reverting to a dull corn tint

Shortening Days

I loathe shortening days – an anxiety sets in – alleviated only by the coming and going of the 21st December, when I swear the days lengthen again with a flourish. I expect it is all in the mind – the slight panic when your days ‘work’ isn’t done, when an hour seems like thirty minutes and it is dark once again.

But I love autumn, the golden leaves light the roadsides, where dull dusty green clothed them throughout summer. Beech in particular are a golden ochre, brown, and yellow. Sycamore seeds carpet our garden, yet still I admire the glorious creamy-yellow, buttercup-yellow and primrose hues of the sycamore leaves. Rich reddish-pink, salmon and fuchsia illuminate the dark wet trunks of several cherries and our purple maple, dulls to a musty orange, against the red crab apples on the neighbouring tree.

Fiery red shades on liquidambar – some like burnished mahogany cling to the branches, their prickly fruits hang like baubles – contrasting in texture with the smooth leaves.

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Where My Heart Is – published today

My first book of poetry has been published today.  It is available on FeedARead and on Amazon (paperback only – kindle copy to follow).

‘Where My Heart Is’ – comprises a collection of poems written during my time in the magical setting that was Orchards – my childhood home in Rowfant, Sussex where I also raised a family. My time there richly depicted in my book ‘The Haphazard Gardener’.

Memories both good and bad are portrayed in the poetry; which has always been a constant and important part of my life. The poems include observations from my surroundings, and the direction my life has taken. Many were written after I met my husband Philip, when life became calmer and I became more content.

I have included two poems by my granddaughter Erin McCarthy who – at the tender age of seven – has already been described by poet Sue Johnson as very talented.

Although I left this idyllic place in 2005, Orchards it is still where my heart is.

I hope you enjoy this collection

 

 

Keeping in Touch

This is my first blog for two years. No excuses – only reasons. We moved house, that needed a LOT of work before it was as we liked it. The garden was neglected and overgrown – that too has been dealt with over the 2+ years we have lived here, nearby the sea. We love it, especially the enormous magnolia in the front garden. We have both, Philip and I been on another journey, and now we can call this home.

Neither of us have been idle. We both prefer to be busy, Phil has built walls, cut new borders, widened others, shifted soil, reclaimed the garden to its original boundary, made trellis and re-fenced the entire length of the garden, to name but a few of the tasks undertaken. I have been gardening and working on a collection of poems, which is due for release at the beginning of October. I have also been working on a family history book about Phil’s family (during the winter months), revising The Haphazard Gardener and compiling another collection of poems, which I hope to publish later in the year.

Magnolia