The Slope on Thursday – Chiaro/Scuro

The weather remains changeable!  I don’t think I’ve ever written that during a summer in Italy.  Yesterday and today are hot but there is a breeze and in the evening the temperature drops so that it isn’t always possible to eat outside.  The whole garden is more lush and jungle-like than I have ever seen it. Continue reading

The Slope on Tuesday 20th August

I was awoken at 3.30 this morning by the sound of thunder rumbling angrily; followed half an hour later by the sound of sweet rain which must have lasted a couple of hours – wonderful! Continue reading

The Slope on Tuesday 13th August

The weather continues to be extremely hot.  The garden is just surviving, but not thriving. It is times like this that I think I should only have plants that positively relish hot, drought conditions in the garden.

Looking up from near the gate, looking very dry

Looking up from near the gate, looking very dry

Continue reading

GBHD – What is there to cook from the garden?

As spring slowly arrives my thoughts turn to spring vegetables but nature has a way of disappointing; spring vegetables won’t be ready until April or even May, in March if we’re lucky there are still a few of the winter crops to sustain us.  But this is the period that is known to be lean.

Calabrese, cut ready to cook

Calabrese, cut ready to cook

Today I picked more Calabrese, tonight I’m going to make Orecchiette in the Pulgese style.  Last week I made risotto and some we ate as an accompanying vegetable.  With the warmer days the spears are growing more quickly and it won’t be long before the plants will be consigned to the compost heap; but they have given such value; definitely growing even more plants next year.  I’ve already decided to try growing them from seed myself and have already bought the seed, I suppose I will need to start the seed in mid-June, if anyone has any experience in this I’d be grateful for the advice.  I usually plant this type of winter vegetable out into the beds vacated by the onion crop; they then have time to grow into mature plants before light levels drop.

Swiss chard ‘Bright Lights’ is another crop that just goes on and on.   In spring very young leaves can be cut for salad adding very pretty colour to the salad bowl, then by mid-summer and through the winter it leaves can be cooked in a variety of ways, again a very reliable crop, I sowed more seed yesterday to replace the plants you see here.

Chard 'Bright Lights'

Chard ‘Bright Lights’

Similar and very quick to grow is Pak Choi, I still have a few plants from last autumn’s sowing and have just planted out a few new seedlings, I pricked out some into modules and then decided to try a few straight into the ground (these are red Pal Choi from Jekka McVicar.

Autumn sown Pak Choi

Autumn sown Pak Choi

Leaves already turning red of this spring's sowing

Leaves already turning red of this spring’s sowing

You can see how stony this bed is, when the winter/spring vegetables come out I’m going to add some manure ready for Peppers.

There are still a few leeks

There are still a few leeks

The cold nights have given the radichio and wonderful red colour

The cold nights have given the radichio and wonderful red colour

Fennel planted among the Calabrese for protection have lasted the winter, the firsttime ever.

Fennel planted among the Calabrese for protection have lasted the winter, the firsttime ever.

Broad beans, now planted out from an indoor sowing

Broad beans, now planted out from an indoor sowing

Still a few lemons, I haven't had to buy any for ages

Still a few lemons, I haven’t had to buy any for ages

Tomatoes, peppers etc. growing well in the greenhouse

Tomatoes, peppers etc. growing well in the greenhouse

I’ve tried leaving peppers in the greenhouse through other winters but they’ve always died, this year, even though we’ve had a month or six weeks of sub-zero night temperatures the plant has survived and will hopefully give me some early peppers too; so something that is always worth trying even if not always successful.

... and a surprise, the pepper I left in the greenhouse all winter has produced a few peppers

… and a surprise, the pepper I left in the greenhouse all winter has produced a few peppers

Thanks to Barbara and Christine at The Gardening Blog for hosting, why not check out what gardeners are eating from their gardens today.

Garden Bloggers Foliage Day October 2011

Welcome to the second GBFD!  I’m hoping to see some wonderful autumn colour from some posts; here in Italy, although we’ve had some rain and coldish winds for a week, the garden, in many ways, looks more like Spring than autumn.  Our autumn colour usually begins mid-November and is often very short-lived.  So I’m depending on you to share the colour around you with me.

I’d also like to thank everyone who joined in or left comments last month; there were some fascinating posts all with great images, this month should be even better with autumn (fall) beginning to give some beautiful colours in the northern hemisphere and spring just commencing in the southern hemisphere.

I have the feeling that the garden thinks it’s spring; is not just the number of plants blooming, and I have to say that there are now more than there were a week ago for GBBD; no, it is more the new foliage on everything from the red new foliage of the roses, to the fresh bright green of the Arbutus, to the peachy hues of Nandino.

I love this huge mas of Thyme with holly behind

Having said that there are a lot of flowers in the garden, it is the foliage that is predominant.  Maybe the blooms are smaller now or fewer per plant but whatever it is, the foliage sings out.  Looking from the drive across the upper drive bed to the large island the variety of different greens and not only greens of the leaves is like a tapestry or an embroidery blending together to give the garden a harmonious feeling.

New 'spring' growth on the Nandino

I never remember the name of this self seeding annual gem.

I was given a specimen of the above plant last year, during summer it is a bright vibrant green; it needs little water even though it looks as if it would be very thirsty.  In autumn the leaves turn first pink, then crimson, the flowers are the same colour as the foliage so maybe I’m cheating including this in a foliage post, but it looks much more like foliage than flowers so I’m including it.  I will try to check on the name and add it when I can.

Stipa tenuissima on the bank always gives me pleasure

At last this wonderfully lace-like Albizia 'Chocolate' is beginning to grow

I bought Albizia ‘Chocolate in September 2009; it only just survived the cold winter last year and until the last couple of months has hardly grown at all.  Suddenly it has begun to put on some healthy looking growth so I’m crossing everything hoping that at last it has its roots down and will grow into a small shrub and to take its part in the silver and purple combination I’m trying to achieve in the large island bed – all with plants that need no irrigation!

Most of the lavender has put on lots of new grow after being heavily pruned in early August.  It does sometimes grow back from old wood.  The colour and form is just right as we go into autumn and winter.

Box, lavender and the view to the fig tree with its tinsel bird frighteners

All the grasses are looking at their best, but I’m not going to include them here as it is their flowers, even if they don’t seem like flowers that are the attraction at the moment.  You can see them in the background of many of the photographs.  I have been surprised that Penisetum villosum continues to produce flowers into the autumn, there was a moment in mid-summer when I thought they were finishing.

Beautiful and also delicious fennel

Doesn't broccoli have amazing blue foliage?

When I was wandering around the garden I noticed that the leaves in the vegetable garden were putting on quite a show.  Bright green, feathery Florence fennel and the almost blue or jade colour of broccoli foliage help make the vegetable garden pretty as well as productive.

Click on the image below to see more foliage from My Hesperides Garden.

Looking across the large island bed to the greenhouse

I hope you will join in with your own foliage, either just one stunning leaf or a review of how foliage works for you in your garden, please leave a comment and the link to your post.