Saturday, December 27, 2014

Details, Umbria 2014

  Rust, lichen, old bricks, distressed wood, peeling paint….These are things that make my heart pitter-patter… or in some cases, thump wildly. 

  You can keep the shiny and new…. Just give me age. Lots and lots of age. Hey, I don't even mind getting older myself (well…..let's talk about that in a few more years).

  When I was still gardening professionally, my work vehicle was this wonderful 1981 Toyota pick-up truck. White. She had a long bed with a shell. This truck was classic. I was only the second owner, and I drove Trucky-Truck until the day she was put out to pasture at a nearby wrecking yard. 
  Lucky for Trucky, she was turned loose to frolic in the fields of wildflowers along with all the other old trucks. 
  Well, this was the only way I could rationalize the "wrecking" part of turning the old gal in for a thousand bucks, part of a buy-back program from the state. She had been determined a "polluter", bless her heart…..

  Why I am bringing her up is that the shell, made of a textured material of some sort, began to grow the most amazing splotches of lichen on top! I wouldn't dare wash her because it was just so cool. These lichen started out as barely visible spots, but over a few years they were several inches across, all grey-green and spotted with fluorescent chartreuse bits. 
  I'm telling you, I was this close to cutting out chunks of that camper thingy, just to keep it all growing.
  I took quite a liken' to that lichen.

  Getting back to Umbria, though. 
  We walk a lot while we're there. We walk for fun as well as exercise. While walking, I'm constantly looking up, down, all around. I don't want to miss a thing.
  I'm looking for the details.
  I'm looking for the past... that rusty, weathered, moss covered stuff that so often slips under the radar.  
  I'm also looking for the everyday scenes that just pop up and rock my little world for a minute or two. 
  The little moments that remain with me throughout the year, coming back as a simple reminder of why we work so f-ing hard to make these trips happen...

Here, it's the shape and texture that drew me.
I thought about doing a post just on these chimney caps. Next year.

  Statues are everywhere, and it's hard to answer why some "speak" to me more than others. Often it's just the expressive nature that the artist has managed to portray-

  We came across this noble fellow, below, from behind. I think we were in Cortona, but I could be wrong. Anyway, he stood tall on a raised platform, and I loved his silhouette and busted arms.

  He was an entirely different story from the front, with his odd leggings and carved details. Lit from the front, his whole personality changed.

  The next few photos are perfect examples of what I mean about lichen. I imagine this takes decades, if not centuries to achieve. I see these and want them all for my garden. Every gardener I know feels the same. 

I know this beauty is in Cortona's public garden. 

The flame seems to have been painted or added on. Perhaps for added stability?
The deer herself is quite special, I think. 

Along a white road near Pozzuolo. We almost missed this scene.

Early days of lichen growth, I think.
I'm assuming it's all about where the sun or shade hits it the longest.

 Johnny and I both have a fondness for garden gates. He dreams of the kind in my Grandpa's garden:

There is nothing wrong with these……
They have their place.


  Now, I love those old gates, too, but my fantasy garden gate would be something more like these, below, thank you very much…..

Perfectly peeling paint, in a perfectly vintage color.
I'll take it.
This one is on Isola Maggiore.

I would be perfectly happy to have this one, of course.
Especially if I could have the stone walls, too.

Well, maybe this is the one I want the most.
For now, anyway.
And yes, the lichen covered stone walls, please.

  We come across these piles of roofing tiles all the time. Do you have any idea how hard it is not to grab and dash??!?
  As always, I do not.
  I respect.

  Blasted integrity…it's the bane of my existence. Well, one of them, anyhow…..

Lusting, lusting……Oh the lusting.

I mean, really, they won't miss one, right?
GD YOU, integrity!…you really chap my hide.


  Funny… as the days tick by in Panicale, I tend to get a little lazy about carrying my camera on our early morning walks. Seems to happen every year. Fortunately, Mr. J chides me no end, until I tuck it into my pocket.
  I'm always glad he pushes it, because there always seems to be a moment I want to capture….

One of several lamp posts along a nearby driveway.

We pass this sign all the time.
We're so curious!

Just a rusty old tractor, hanging around the rocks.

Almost missed this lovely scene while on a morning walk.
We now refer to this as "The Beautiful Hippie House".

  Then there are the odd details…the tiny, funny, sweet moments that I forget about until I'm scrolling through my iPhoto library, dreaming, dreaming…Always with the dreaming. 

Perhaps it designates a different grape variety?
Chases away birds? Garden art?
I just dig it.

Window decor one night at Il Pellicano, a fave spot for pizza.
Also quite the club scene, after hours..

This photo I took for Mom…
It's outside a hospital that specializes in
asthma & bronchial issues.

I must have this as my next album cover.
The album title shall be "Lunedì è il Giorno della Lavata"
(Monday is Wash Day)

Last, but certainly not least..
Proof of Zombies, right here in Umbria.

   Though every year I believe we have seen all we can see within our small area, I am pleasantly surprised to find all new sights, sounds, tastes….and oh so very happy to return and see that not a whole lot has changed one little bit.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

December Morning In The Garden

  Rain! Oh, gloriousness!
  Not only the most amazing sunrises and sunsets, but water enough to fill my rain barrels over and over….that is when I find the time to run around emptying them into the garden! But I don't mind. This gives me the chance to catch up and see what's going on with the plants.

  This is something I have little time for these shortest days of the year. It's dark when I get home, and I seem to be too busy in the mornings to get much time in the garden. 

  This morning I said the hell with it, and went on a tour of sorts…. I'm so very glad I did. 
  Besides seeing just how many weeds have sprung up (basically overnight…), I really got excited about the way everything has plumped up. These are some happy plants, people!

By now you know how I love my variegated plants.
geranium "Vancouver Centennial" in all her Xmas color...

Coprosma "Rainbow Surprise" is looking quite festive, too.
Under her, you see plectranthus "Zuluensis", I believe.

  Plectranthus is such an easy going plant in our region. It propagates super easy, and nothing seems to eat it. It always comes on strong with flowers in autumn, and continues through the end of the year. 
  I have had some frost damage, but it grows back within a season, so I keep it throughout the garden, making new cuttings all year long. It looks so much better with water, like now. In the dog days of summer, it survives ok without, but perks up after a slow soak.
  I'm a big fan.

I like this mash-up…..
Plectranthus with alstroemeria and even the "weed" oxalis.
The texture together is great.

The buds are so trippy!
The original cutting came from a garden in Cambria.
Yes, I sort of pilfered it.

  Another favorite to see after a few good days of rain, are the various succulents. 
  I'd stopped watering them, for the most part, so they were looking pretty sad. Now they are happy, happy, happy...

See those big smiles?
Happy succulents!

Part of a collection of small pots of succulents on the back porch...

The colder temperatures bring out a blush of pink.

These began not so long ago as one here and one there…they have become a border
along a bed in the back garden. I'm so thrilled to see them at their best.

Well, what can I say? Succulents, variegated this and that…me like!

They just keep getting more massive!
Not that I mind...


  Seriously, I ran around for about fifteen minutes snapping these photos this morning before coming to the gallery. It had just rained, and everything was clean and fresh. I wish I could have just stayed in the garden all day.

  I love puttering this time of year…little weeds need to be pulled, raking is instant gratification, and the plants are either at their best, or getting put to bed for the winter. It's not too warm, and the fragrances are divine.

  I know that I take many of the same shots of the garden. It's true- the garden isn't that big, and there are certain areas that just look so good all the time. I can't help it. These "strong" areas just keep getting bigger and better, as they grow and fill in.

  Also, over the years I've just done away with plants that are not doing well. We just don't have the water to waste on them anymore. I've either traded them out, found them new homes elsewhere, or chopped them into the compost bin. Now I concentrate on the tough old gals that go and go and look good doing it!

A new member of the family,"Prince Rupert", a variegated pelargonium I bought as a four inch specimen.
Hmmmmmm…wonder why?

I know, I know…it's that same old coprosma, "Marble Queen"…again.
She gets a lot of play on this blog. But I do love her.

Honestly, I thought I'd lost these hellebores, but no!
They look good, too, especially with the variegated plectranthus all over.

Not a ton of "color" in the garden right now,
but this Hebe is going for it.

A close up of the absolutely beautiful variegated ivy geranium from the photo above.
Thank you, Tasha….

Oh! Here's a little December surprise!
Isn't it time to start cutting back the roses?

  I'm in love with Hellebores…most all varieties are good, but I especially like  the Corsican and Sternii varieties. They get huge in my garden, and bloom year round, almost. Tough, too. The only thing that bugs them are aphids in the warm days of spring… A good strong jet from the hose works wonders.

Near the hot tub area, Quan Yin meditates among the Hellebores.
Thanks, Tasha…..

Also nearby, my Rosy maidenhair(?) fern…I think that's what this is.
Whatever they are, I am happy that they are starting to put out new growth.

  In another area of the garden, I have been tucking cuttings of this and that, along with babies of this and that…basically just experimenting. I like what's going on here. This section has been through so many changes over the years, I wish I had just done this incarnation to start with.

  But, hey, we gardeners learn as we go, and we do make lots of mistakes. Some really horrible, some quite lovely…right?

Who knew this combination would work so well?
Talk about low maintenance!

Across the path, same area as above…another "this and that" which has turned out pretty nice.
I love the color of the euphorbia foliage with the variegation here.

  Throughout the garden, we have a fine collection of garden…ummm…. art? 
  This collection also continues to grow, though we have gotten better at "editing" what stays. 
  Just a week or so ago, our garden angel, Pedro, decided that this fine fellow belonged in our garden, not his. 
  He knows us well! We love this new (odd, yes) "Hotei" at the front door.

  He's the happiest fellow, even if he is sort of flaking away. We gently rub his head when we pass him, coming and going.

Thanks, Pedro!
(just this side of creepy, but it's ok)

I mean, we have cherub heads hanging around with old rusty bits….
The coral was found some twenty years ago
while beach camping on the Sea of Cortez.

Yeah,  just more of the collection.
Poor St. Francis…the flock gets bigger every year!

I have to wonder what guests think when they come to the front door…..
It changes all the time.

Beach glass collection with our lucky froggy.

  Just to wrap things up here, a couple of photos from the gallery "garden"… It's a life saver for me, when things are slow here. I enjoy going outside and just doing a little clipping, or rearranging...

I made four nice big pots of this combination,
a smaller growing euphorbia with the tough carex "testacea".
I think it's a super nice color combo.

Aeonium "Zwartkop", looking somewhat washed out.
Not enough full sun here, but these are cuttings to be moved elsewhere.

Last, but no where near least, the ornamental oxalis "Lucky".
Another dream plant to propagate, and what drama!

  Well, there you have it.
  Just give me ten to fifteen minutes in the garden on a morning like this day started with, and I'll give you some good plants to think about.
  Or maybe I just give myself something to do when the crowds thin out here in the gallery!