The Slope on Thursday 28th November

There has been a light frost every morning this week.  I know this because when I get up, the first thing I do is open the inner shutters of the landing window and look out; mostly I see the vegetable garden but I can also see the solar panel (for hot water) on the shed roof and each morning there has been a little frost, not thick and not completely covering it.  It has been cold and extremely windy all week with the wind coming from the north (Tramontana) or north-east (Grecale).  These are both bitingly cold winds that clear the air and mean you can see for miles; they also mean you need a hat and warm clothes if you’re going to venture out.  I like it that winds have names, makes them seem for friendly! Do the winds where you live have names in common use? Continue reading

Is it snow?

This week has seen a big change in the weather.  No more kidding myself that it is spring or autumn, winter has arrived.  It is early for it to be so cold here in Lazio

On Monday I drove to Rome, I chose the road that goes over the Cimini hills (mountains) they aren’t that high so it rather depends where you come from whether you consider them mountains or hills, the highest point on the road is 850 m.  It was cold but also beautifully sunny, as I was driving I saw in the distance the snow tipped peak of Monte Amiata, but that’s higher than the Cimini and way off in Tuscany so I didn’t change my mind about my route.  Mistake!  As I climbed the trees began to be sprinkled with white.  Was it frost?  Then it became clear, the trees were coated in a thick layer of snow; it was amazingly beautiful and I regret not taking any photographs, but I thought the road was too dangerous to stop.  Cars coming in the opposite direction were driving very slowly and as I neared the highest point (860 m) there was a group of Carabinieri, stopping the traffic, saying the road was closed due to ice!  So I retraced my steps and took a lower road to arrive at my destination an hour late on a journey that should have taken 50 minutes!

Then yesterday, Wednesday when the forecast said it would be sunny, it first rained and then hailed, huge pieces of ice some about the size if a marble, others smaller – and it was so cold that many remained on the ground for two days!

Hail stones on the window cill

Hail stones on the window cill

Hailstones on the terrace

Hailstones on the terrace

Hail in the garden

Hail in the garden

White fields of hail stones

White fields of hail stones

Today garden is white with frost, the clipped Lavender looking lovely outlined in white; but some intervention is needed; the lemons and limes that I had already moved from the north east side of the house to the west side to avoid the cold north wind (Tramontana) now need to be moved into the greenhouse, so a little rearranging is also called for there.

Lavender in the formal garden white with frost

Lavender in the formal garden white with frost

GBFD December

There is no pretending any more – it is winter.  The trees are bare; it is now the structure and the foliage of evergreen and ever-silver plants that are the mainstay of the garden.

For checking if you have good form and texture in the garden you can’t beat looking at you photographs in black and white.  This is not my idea, books recommend trying this and Janet at Plantaliscious often uses this method to learn about her garden. In this way you aren’t distracted by coloured flowers.  If you think your garden looks attractive in black and white I’m sure it looks amazing in colour.

Here’s a few examples, why don’t you try a few too and link into Garden Bloggers Foliage Day to share your findings.  Thanks so much for joining in this month but if you are too busy preparing for the Christmas festivities why not try it for January.

The left side border

I’m surprised at just how good this border looks in December in black and white.  Here it is in colour:

I almost prefer it in black and white, which I think is interesting.

Skeletal branches of the trees contrast with the mass of clipped lavender and grasses give lightness and movement

In colour its like this

The Miscanthus ‘Morning Light’ sings out even without colour

Looking up the bank, the groundcover foliage plants are making quite an impact

Sometimes it is the foliage that is beautiful or interesting when viewed close-to, as in this Euphorbia which seems almost to be deformed but I remember that some were like this last year and they still grew normally.


This morning I awoke to a ground-frost, so just to prove that Italy is cold in winter here are some icy shots to finish.

Foliage is even more silvery with frost

Rather elegant black grass edged in frost

Please leave a comment with your link, thank you. Christina