Sunday, July 28, 2013

Missing Panicale. Again.

  We are so lucky to have some sweet pals back in Panicale who send us photos and even some short videos of the ongoing activities in Panicale. I love it...little reminders of our other life. 
  Thing is, it really makes me stop what I'm doing and go back to my album of photos...
  Next thing I know, a couple of hours have gone by, and I have to play catch up. It's all good. There always seems to be just enough time for everything... even whipping out a blog post for all those Panicale lovers out there. Or maybe its just for me.... I like to remember, and at the same time I get to look forward to the next visit.
  Just a little bit of fluff to make my grey and foggy Sunday here at work a little more sunny.... and Umbrian! 


  One day we heard a big racket in the piazza, so we had to head down and see what the hell was going on. What was going on was some big fun being had by a group of regular dirt-bikers, out for a weekend mud-fest:

The perfect mix of mud and Proseco. Why not?

  I'm always thinking about food, for sure. It's only natural, right?  It's a killer, because I'm munching carrot sticks right now. Really. Just keep repeating: I love carrot sticks. I love carrot sticks. I lo.......never mind.

My most favorite mushroom salad. Thanks, Aldo!

Johnny's most favorite zucchini salad with fresh mozzarella & walnuts.
Thanks, Aldo!

My favorite tagliatelle with leeks and truffles. Thanks, Masolino's!

Cooking at the apartment rocks, too.
Agretti with fresh mozzarella & tomatoes. Thanks, me!

  We miss our friends, of course, and keep in touch as much as we can. Like I mentioned, they help to keep us in touch with Panicale while we are here, back home. We meet new people every year, and get to know the locals better and better each time we go back. 

  I have got to get my language skills down. I just can't seem to remember anything I learn...thank god I've got my Rosetta Stone program here at work to keep things somewhat fresh. 
  Must. Study. More.
  (Jeez. If only I didn't spend so much time looking at photos and videos. I could really get in some good time studying......)

  Oh...back to friends we miss....

Having some afternoon treats with pals at Michele & Co.
near Castiglione del Lago.

Friends, cards, wine, lunch and a little gardening.
A perfect day at Mariolina's.

Walking with pals just below Panicale.
The "Golden Hour".

Having fun with contemporary art.

  This year we connected with some new pals that were just beginning a garden project in Panicale. It was so great to watch the early stages, and now we get to look forward to seeing how it's all come together when we return. It's an awesome garden space, with the best view ever.

Adding goodies to the soil, getting ready to plant.
I was just an enthusiastic & envious observer...

Million dollar garden view.

  Most days Johnny and I would head out to find a spot for him to paint. Later in the afternoon or early evening, we could almost always be found having a glass of wine at Bar Gallo. Such a great place to touch base and see what everyone has been up to. A good book, dominoes...
  Other days, we might end up down by the lake, especially if the weather was nice. It was always fun to meet Katia and her family there.

Just hangin' at the lake.

Katia and I in the piazza, Panicale.
The boys look on, waiting for grandpa to blow up their balloons.

  The piazza is always the heart of any hill town in Italy. In larger towns, there may be several, each one special to it's own neighborhood. In Panicale, there are a couple, but the main piazza is pretty obvious. It's where all the activities go on, for the most part. 
  Perfect for shopping, gifts, a glass of wine, cappuccino, lotto tickets, a haircut or fine meal. At times busy with the daily rituals of Italian life, and often quiet enough to hear all the birds singing. We walk through the piazza more times a day than I can keep track of. Everyone does, it seems.
  I like walking through at night, when the lights make everything look golden.

A typical day in the piazza.
For us, our last day in the piazza, this trip.

  A few moments and sounds from Piazza Umberto I:

  Some treasured scenes...I love the stone houses, the colors, the stairs, the trippy little "streets".
  Just another photo "shout-out" to Panicale.... See ya next Spring!

Work vehicle, Umbrian style.

This entry always looks so nice, and is much loved.


Just a few steps from our apartment. Up or down, either way gets you to the piazza...

Our morning, afternoon and evening walk around town.
A great place to watch the sunset.

So hard to lock up that last morning, and say goodbye.
Thankfully, we know we'll be back.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

July Garden, 2013

  We've been having some nice days between the fog days, here on the coast. June was extra sweet, with some downright heat going on...good for the garden. As we get into later July and August, it seems to get more and more grey, but I'll take whatever sunshine comes our way, for sure. 
  A week or two ago, on a particularly nice morning, I took a bunch of shots of my back garden. It was looking extra nice in the early light... 

I only wish the neighbor would re-think the giant antenna thingy.....
Otherwise, I really love this little view of the potting shed, etc.

  As mentioned more than once in this blog, I love my variegated plants...I have put the brakes on new additions, for the most part, but still take cuttings of favorites to spread throughout the garden. I especially love the ivy geranium, below. It likes some shade, which works well for my garden. Easy, easy, easy to have around, and to share...

A favorite mix here. Just a little drama..

I have finally split up this variegated fallopia, with great results.
Three plants from one..yes! Plus, so far so good with the fuchsia. No "mites", yet....

  I like to have sweet peas in my garden, somewhere. They were always on the cyclone fence in Grandma and Grampa Dottie's yard. The perfume of these flowers take me right back to being a kid, running around their backyard. My wedding bouquet was all sweet peas, in fact.  
  These days, when they are in bloom, I try to have some at my bedside to make for the sweetest dreams.

My dream of the perfect fragrance....All over now, until next year.

I keep taking shots of this area in my garden. I just love these succulents with this euphorbia...
and those blooms are gorgeous.

  One of my best sources for plant sharing is my pal, Tasha. She always has little babies hanging around, looking for a new home. I enjoy going into her garden and seeing what's happening. 
  After watching the success of the hellebores there, I had to have some, too. She always seems to have seedlings in small pots, so I'm game to take a few off her hands. Now, I have my own seedlings thriving in the gravel paths that run all through the back garden. I'm loving them with the underplanting of variegated plectranthus, below.

This is a combo I've been repeating over and over, in every spot that seems appropriate.
These two plants are perfectly paired.....

One of my most favorite roses..."Hansa", a tough as nails rugosa. Very nice fragrance and big, beautiful hips afterwards.
 Just another little garden moment.....

 A bunch of years ago, Johnny and I spent a week up in Mendocino. It was fantastic for many reasons, one being it's proximity to Digging Dog nursery. I had enjoyed their informative and artistically lovely catalog for years, before finally visiting. The display gardens were extraordinary, and the folks were very nice. 
  One of my best purchases that trip was this amazing honeysuckle, below. I think it may be "Fragrant Cloud", or something close...I'll admit, I've almost lost all my plant name knowledge. It's been a few years away from the world of gardening "professionally", and it all disappears so fast. 
  Anyway, I have this beauty planted in a very large container just outside the kitchen window, so I can enjoy the sweet fragrance while making coffee every morning while it's in bloom. This one blooms for about eight weeks, I guess.. I also love the color of it's foliage, too. I cut it back by at least half every winter. It is deciduous.

The buds are so pretty...

When in bloom, it's three or four colors at once. I love this plant.
Almost as much as the hummingbirds do.

  When I was much, much younger, I had the good fortune to have worked at the then famous "Begonia Gardens" in Carmel Valley. Having been a young admirer and customer, it only made sense to try and snag a job there. So I did. 
  The greenhouses were a wonderland to me. When all the tuberous begonias were in bloom, it was like walking into another universe. The size of the blooms themselves were amazing, and all the colors together...well, it was magic. It was a very special place. 
  Nowadays, I treat myself to one or maybe two of the large flowered tuberous varieties. I've always loved them, they just tend to get a lot of mildew in my garden. 

I can't resist just one....well, two here, actually.

  Looking at this photo, above, I think I may need to get a couple more begonia bulbs this next year...

 Over at Johnny's studio, he has his own garden area. The landlords planted a red trumpet vine on the arbor there. It's great, and doing just what this vine is famous for....growing and blooming like crazy!
  It loves where it lives, that's a fact.

All I do is watch.....

  Another plant-share from Tasha, this shrub begonia, "Paul Hernandez", is a show stopper. It's almost five feet tall, with huge leaves that are all texture and color, plus big bunches of tiny white flowers...
  It grows really well from cuttings, like most shrubby begonias..

My gigantor begonia...We just brought the tile under the birdhouse back from Umbria..
I like it there. 

  Over in the sunshine's all about the purple....

Photo of my artichoke taken earlier....

I like to grow artichokes for the blooms. There are never enough to eat...

Isn't it pretty?

  I guess I like purple. If you were to ask me, I would never choose purple as a fave color, but in my garden....the truth is out.

Arbor full of purple.
I'm looking up at these clematis blooms...

More of that pesky color here. Iochroma, a large shrub
that's tough and pretty easy to propagate, too.

 Back in sunny-ville, along with artichokes, I'm also growing pots of "Early Girl" tomatoes, which I find to be the best for my garden. I plant them in big nursery cans. One, they stay nice and warm in the heat absorbing black plastic, and two...I can really control the soil mix this way. My native soil is very sandy without much organic substance. With my own compost and some chicken poo, I can make a good mix for these pots.

Hey, those are some nice lookin' tomatoes.

Here they come, kids.....

I see caprese salad in my future. These are well on their way,
now just turning a little red..

  I'll be sure to take some photos of whatever I end up making with all my tomatoes this year, for sure. Last year we returned from Umbria too late in the season to plant, so I'm really looking forward to home grown tomatoes this year!
  I don't plant many veggies(we have such wonderful local produce here), but enjoy tomatoes from my own garden so much, I try to plant some every year. These, a little fresh basil or thyme...some good olive oil and crusty bread...come on, it's heaven on a plate.
  My garden keeps me happy and healthy, and helps me remember why I love it here, too.
  It's always been there, in all my odd living situations, through all the years...A little bit of dirt to keep me grounded.