The Slope on Thursday – Green and Gold

There wasn’t a post last Thursday about the slope as I was away at the Amalfi coast. Here’s a photo to give you an idea of the views I was enjoying as we drove from Sant’Agnello to Maiori, one of the most beautiful if slightly scary drives in the world.  The road clings to the cliff edge and twists and turns alarmingly; with scooters overtaking on the blind bends it is fortunate that you can pull into laybys every so often to settle the stomach as well as allow the driver to enjoy the views too; I’m assuming he was watching the road at all times!


View of Positano

View of Positano

Up until today the weather has been sunny and hot during the days, last evening there were thunderstorms and today is cool cold and cloudy with thunder rumbling gently some distance away.  So the green in the title refers to how the slope looks this morning with the dull light emphasising the greens in the foliage.  The gold refers to some images I took on Tuesday evening when the light was gorgeous, I shared the images of the rest of the garden in my post yesterday and I’m including those taken of the slope then here.

The usual view, a bit narrower because Im using my old camera.  There is dust inside the lens of my usual camera and I need to decide whether to have it cleaned or just buy another newer improved model, as the technology moves on so quickly

The usual view, a bit narrower because Im using my old camera. There is dust inside the lens of my usual camera and I need to decide whether to have it cleaned or just buy another newer improved model, as the technology moves on so quickly

Any recommendations regarding a new camera would be gratefully received.

Lagerstroemia indica

Lagerstroemia indica

Lagerstroemia indica flowers only when it rains in my garden!

Lagerstroemia indica flowers only when it rains in my garden!

Lagerstroemia indica is supposed to be drought tolerant but I think it must need a heavier soil than my tuffo as it only flowers after rain and the pink one isn’t flowering at all!

Ground-cover Verbena continues to flower, its been flowering for months

Ground-cover Verbena continues to flower, its been flowering for months

Perovskia and Hypericum which popped up from nowhere

Perovskia and Hypericum which popped up from nowhere

Panicums are flowerinf

Panicums are flowering

There are some new buds on the Eschscholzia californica

There are some new buds on the Eschscholzia californica

The Eschscholzia californica would prefer it not to rain, they lap up the sunshine.

Looking across from the prostrate rosemary

Looking across from the prostrate rosemary

I think the forms and textures of the plants work really well here, there are other parts of the garden that need tweaking (major rethinking) to achieve this, the left hand bed in particular.

Solanum jasminoides Album

Solanum jasminoides Album

Looking up

Looking up

Looking up from the gate

Looking up from the gate

Looking across from the cuttings bed

Looking across from the cuttings bed

In the evening light on Tuesday, Perovskia, Panicums and Tulbaghia

In the evening light on Tuesday, Perovskia, Panicums and Tulbaghia

The golden trees are Quercus ilex, they are really dull silvery green it is just the magical light that makes them gold.


In the evening light on Tuesday, Mirabilis jalapa and Solanum jasminoides

In the evening light on Tuesday, Mirabilis jalapa and Solanum jasminoides, Phlomis fruticosa in the foreground

Argiope bruennichi

Argiope bruennichi

Argiope bruennichi is the spider that Chloris saw when she visited me at the beginning of last week.  This week the garden is full of them!  Susie at PBM garden also showed a closely related variety a couple of weeks ago.

Do you have any strange spiders in your garden; they do seem to be more obvious in autumn, don’t they?

55 thoughts on “The Slope on Thursday – Green and Gold

  1. It sounds as if you had a good trip to the Amalfi coast. It is so beautiful but I think it is the scariest road in Europe.
    I like your shot of the tiger spider, the photo I took is a bit blurry. Your garden looks beautiful as usual.

  2. Lovely photos of the Amalfi coast, we stayed way above Positano a while ago, and it was spectacular, but vertigo inducing!
    No wonder you are always glad to get back to your garden – it is lovely, especially bathed in that golden light.

    • It is only about a 4 hour drive to get to Sorrento so not so far for a long weekend or a few days. Until we lived here in Italy I was never very happy returning home, now it is harder to drag me away in the first place.

  3. Lovely post Christina, and a wonderful view of Positano, we came back to Amalfi by bus from Sorrento last year, my goodness the bus bus drivers are brave! I have some Panicum elegans still in a pot as I cannot decide where to place it, I think you have it right though, I need a bigger space. Lovely to feel home is the best place, especially in such a beautiful country.

    • The bus and coach drivers are amazing, I wouldn’t want to be the driver, but as I said the most scary things were the Vespas weaving in and out of the traffic and it wan’t even very busy when we drove it.

  4. The slope looks lovely as always, especially those shots looking up from the gate. You can see so many shapes and different textures there -really effective. We haven’t seen many spiders yet strangely enough. Good shot of yours close up!

    • I do so little actual work on the slope apart from the initial idea and weeding (more of that this year because of the rain) but it works for me more than some other parts of the garden which I think are fussy. The more I garden the more I want great swathes of the same thing, which means of course they must be interesting for a long time ot just disappear ready for the next thing.

      • as I plan the next garden, I remember that the bits I enjoy here, are the ones when I tried semi-formal minimalism. That’ll be my first planting bed, until the landscaping is done and we play musical chairs with the plants.

        • When I planted the slope I used only plants that had self seeded or were completely happy in other parts of the garden so at very minimal cost. When I started the garden I had never gardened in a nearly Mediterranean climate and although I knew the theory, that isn’t by any means the same thing. Gardening is a wonderful thing because you are constantly learning, this year with cooler temperatures and more rain has really proved to me that if you use a lot of water you can have almost any kind of garden that you want but that gardening to the conditions is the most satisfying and obviously the most sustainable. It actually makes me want to remove some of the plants that struggle in normal years with minimum or no irrigation.

      • I’ve taken the wimp’s way out, as we are selling. Steadily removing what isn’t sure if it wants to grow here. Repeating what flourishes in summer heat or wet clay soil. Between us the garden and I have found a solution that suits us both.

  5. Lagerstroemia indica sounds like one for me!
    That drive around the Amalfi coast has shortened my life I think. That and Florence. The mere sight of a Vespa now brings on a panic attack. There are many wonderful things about Italy but driving around is not one of them!

  6. Stretches of the Pacific Coast Highway put my heart in my throat so I can only imagine a trip up the Amalfi coast! Spiders are all over the place here too – I walk into webs even when I think I’m being wary. I haven’t seen any spiders as pretty as yours, though.

  7. Great photo of your Argiope bruennichi with its beautiful coloring and pattern. I went back and compared it to the North American one–interesting, subtle differences. Your slope is appealing from every direction. I like the yellow bits of hypericum and Eschscholzia californica contrasting with the blue.

    • The Rosemary are just in the environment they want, I don’t do anything but prune them a bit sometimes! The Panicum on the other hand are short, very short in comparison to yours (and the norm) even with all the rain this year.

  8. I love the spider, it ranks among the coolest spiders I have ever seen! The stripes and the gray fur on the head are all fascinating. Like Susie said it’s similar to the NA one but still very different.
    I can’t get over the green in your pictures. I began following your blog last summer and the gray of drought was such a stark contrast to how things look now. Do you still like the wetter, cooler summer or are you hoping for a more average one next year?
    I will pass on the cliff side road!

    • The green is amazing in the fields around and within the garden the grass under the olives and the path to the greenhouse. Usually everything is brown until the autumn rains; this year I’ve had to cut the grass many times whereas in other years it only has a couple of cuts in spring and then again before we harvest the olives. I’ve read that climate change may bring more tropical weather to the Mediterranean, so maybe we will have to get used to it. For me, personally, the summer was great because it was still much more reliably warm than England and the rain most for only short periods so I didn’t have to use the irrigation in most of the garden. So I suppose I’m saying that I would be happy but the Italians wouldn’t as they think this year has been dreadful!

  9. Your slope has a wonderful coherence to it Christina, I will be fascinated to see how you tweak other areas in your garden in response to what you have learned by creating it. The spider is extraordinary, I’ve yet to see anything as colourful here, though the myriad butterflies make up for it, proof that I don’t need buddleia to attract them, thank goodness! As for that drive to the Amalfi coast, I’m not surprised that you had to keep stopping to settle your stomach! I’ve usually managed to be the driver on similarly scary roads, such experiences are exhilarating but best kept infrequent! What a lovely place to go for your birthday though.

    • The Amalfi coast is possibly the most beautiful coasts in the world Janet and we had a lovely few days just relaxing and eating some amazing food. There are many things to do in the area but we’ve done most of them in the past so it was great just to chill!

  10. I was enjoying your post until I saw the spider Christina which nearly made me leap out of my chair 🙂 My parents spent their honeymoon on the Amalfi coast in the 1950s. I imagine that there have been some changes since then but I’m sure that it is still as beautiful as they remembered. I can’t cope with heights so think I will continue to admire the view in photos.

    • Sorry to frighten you Anna; I was pretty scared the first time I saw one of these myself. Some in the garden are huge, much bigger than the one I photographed. I don’t think the actual coast has changed all that much, the cliffs are so steep there hasn’t been much new construction. I’m sure there are more tourists though; Sorrento is still quite a favourite with older couples (what am I saying here, I think many were younger than me!) who go for the mild winters.

  11. It is lovely to see the plants maturing and blending. You use so many different ones that I would never have chosen if I had seen them in a pot in a nursery. Mature plants look so different and I can see how important it is to place them carefully. Amelia

    • I agree that it can be difficult to know what a mature plant will look like when you see it in a pot, that’s why I like to see plants growing gardens if I can. There aren’t that many different plants on the slope just a lot of each. Lots of the plants on the slope self seed so they plant themselves and keep the appearance fresh.

  12. Jealous of your trip to the Amalfi coast. I spent time in Positano years ago – one of the most beautiful places I’ve visited from what I remember. And such a handsome spider. I’m not sure why they seem more common in the autumn but yes, they do. I suppose heavier dew highlights the webs more. Dave

    • I don’t think it is just dew Dave, we’re not really having dewy mornings yet but the spiders are there. Whatever the reason I like seeing the perfect webs and even the slightly scary large spiders.

  13. Your trip sounds great; only got near there on a family trip many years ago, enroute to Sicily! Enjoy your cold, damp period while you can…the Solanum jasminoides is my favorite on this post. Though I like the special light on the Q. ilex, too.

    My thoughts on Lagerstroemia is only well-irrigated landscapes, and summers with some rain and humid heat are a plus. Though some take my desert conditions well with water.

  14. What a spectacular view of Positano! Your description reminds me of the drive along the northern California/Oregon coastline, near where two of my sons live. Incredible views, but nerve-racking!

    Your slope is wonderful, especially from the view of the prostrate rosemary. Your slope seem to be very long. You have done an outstanding job!

    That spider is beautiful, even though scary-looking! The oddest spiders we have are the spiny orb weavers, which are black and white and shaped like crabs. They are so tiny that most people don’t notice them. However, it is hard to miss their giant webs!

    Lagerstroemia really likes high heat and lots of humidity, which is why they flourish in my climate. I wonder if your air may be a bit dry for them? Finally, regarding my post on Edgeworthia. You asked if it needs acid soil. The answer is no; it is not particular as long as the soil is well-drained and it is watered well during the growing season. It also needs some shade, or at least some protection from hot afternoon sun.

    • What you say about Lagerstroemia makes lots of sense as if it rains it flowers! The air is definitely too dry for it here but strangely I do see examples around my area, I have to assume that they are irrigated or are in grass that is, so that they gain humidity from that. Most information about them doesn’t actually say this so your comment and that of another commenter are really useful, thank you.

  15. glad you had a nice few days away and survived Christina, beautiful view, here some local drivers do the passing on blind corners and blind hills, many people here don’t drive on the mainland as they are used to quite, nearly empty roads and can’t cope with just a small amount of traffic,
    the golden evening light is interesting isn’t it, when we have sun it is the same here the hill across the river faces west and can turn a reddish gold in the light just before sunset,
    your comment about having almost any kind of garden if you have lots of water, no, I’ve lost several plants this year alone due to too much rain, water too much or too little is not the only component needed, gardening is a very tricky business with very many needs as you know, drought tolerant just means it should survive drought, it doesn’t mean it will thrive in drought, I’ve learnt that plant descriptions are like estate agents property descriptions, they need interpretation, Frances

    • I should rephrase my comment to ” I could have any kind of garden HERE if I was prepared to use a lot more water” But you are right of course water can cause just as many problems as drought. I agree with your comment about estate agents descriptions. Often plants are described (even by the RHS) using quite specific growing conditions which they don’t always characterise. In southern England you can grow so many plants that many people (you hear them on GQT) think that EVERYTHING will grow well which isn’t the same thing at all.

      • Christina, I was very surprised recently when on GQT they talked about the AGM the RHS puts on some plants, apparently the plants are only trialed in one of the RHS gardens and in very specific conditions, the award no long has any meaning to me, I miss John Cushnie on the programme as he gardened in Northern Ireland and would often remind the others that some plants don’t grow everywhere, when Eric Robson is chair he sometimes does this too as he is in Cumbria, I liked and found more meaningful being in Scotland the Beech grove potting shed which was a phone in gardeners question time on radio Scotland with a panel of people who garden in Scotland but the beeb cut it at the end of 2012, but I’m learning most by doing and from other gardeners via the internet, Frances

        • Yes, I felt the same way when I heard that about the AGM on GQT, I miss the humour of John Cushnie as well as his timely reminders. As I said I think people in the south of England, including those who should know better, seem to think that everything can be grown everywhere; I think they would have more integrity if they were more honest about recommending right plant, right place. then we would have more interesting gardens everywhere. Maybe the National Trust could be in the forefront of this as they have gardens in very different conditions and it would then make them even more interesting to visit too, don’t you think?

  16. Like Kris I am forever walking into spiders’ webs, particularly recently – but I always apologise for destroying their hard work! Would you normally still be expecting flowers on your Californian poppies? I am glad I don’t have those roads to contend with in the everyday scheme of things…. 😦

  17. Hi Christina,
    Did you get a new camera yet? It really depends on whether you want a point and shoot (and they are just getting better and better) or whether you want total control over how you take your photographs. We have two Nikon DSLR cameras – a D300 and the newer D7000. The D7000 is wonderful – much easier to change settings. However I find it too heavy if I am not using it with a tripod, especially if it is used with a heavy zoom lens. You also have to put in quite a bit of time to work out how to use it to its full capability – we are still a long way off that.
    This looks quite a useful site:

    • Thanks for that Annette. No, I haven’t made a decision yet. I have a very old (one of the first DSLR) that has now been totally superseded, and as it wasn’t cheap I don’t want to make a another purchase that I may regret. My Panasonic lumix has been great until now, with a very wide angle and an unbelievably good macro. So it is very difficult to make a decision. I will always want a camera that is always in my bag but that could be my phone I suppose. I am very grateful for your input.

      • I will be interested to hear what you end up with. I am also thinking I need a much smaller camera that I can use without hurting my shoulder and that can come on walks with us rather easier than the heavy Nikons that we have at the moment. I do love the D7000 though – it takes wonderful photos when you get things right!

        • I think probably most people need both if they are keen. My Panasonic is hopeless in low light conditions, hence most of my vases have to be photographed outside! But I do have it in my handbag always which is great. I will definitely read your link. I suppose as 90% of the images I take are of the garden the weight isn’t such an issue.

  18. My parents have been to that area several times and love it; I’ve only ever been to northern Italy. Looks a lovely place to spend some time although those roads look hairy. There are spiders everywhere at the moment. Wellyman has deposited several huge ones outside after they have made their way indoors. There’s one in the greenhouse who keeps making its web across the doorway. I forget and get a face full of web every morning. We upgraded the camera this year. We have a Canon 100D with various lenses which is very good. Nikon do a D3300 which apparently is a good one too.

    • thanks for the advice ref. the camera. I am finding it hard to make up my mind but in using the older Panasonic I have, I realise just how much better the newer (albeit with marks on the lens) is. So I think probably a further update for a compact(ish) camera is better than spending money on having the lens cleaned. As to a DSLR I’m still a bit reluctant, if the lenses I have would work on another camera it might be an option.

  19. I have zero camera advice to offer since I have a very basic model.The view into Positano is beautiful but a fast driver on that road would make me pretty nervous. Lagerstromia are commonly called crepe myrtle and they definitely love steady moisture. I’m surprised they grow so well on your slope.

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