Monday, May 23, 2011

Another diarist, and some Italian garden musings

I've done something molto controversial: I've given my sister permission to post on my blog. Why? I'm in Italy for a couple of months, and she's dog, house and garden sitting for me. It also appears that she's a lot more productive in the garden than me, and perhaps I could learn from her....

My blog is all about learning, rather than knowing, so I think it'll be a good thing.

view from a balcony in Siena (via flowers)
I love the way in Italy, people grow bright flowers and herbs in pots everywhere - windowsills, entrances, ledges.  Geraniums and petunias seem particularly popular, which amuses me because in Australia they're seen as daggy 'nanna' plants.  I know, however, that geraniums are very very hard to kill, which might explain their popularity.

brave snapdragons clinging onto the rock wall

window garden

I've also appreciated the domestic produce gardens that you see squished into spare land besides roads or railway lines, similar to what I observed in Turkey.   I'm not sure about the health benefits of growing tomatoes beside heavy traffic, but perhaps that's not the point.

ledge garden

artichokes unleashed

Australian shopkeepers might want to learn something from their Italian counterparts:

....and I'm not talking about the potted plants.  How awesome is the fox 'diorama'?!

I also want to backtrack a little, and share a couple of photos of the Vatican gardens (as viewed from the dome of St Peters). Why? Because they have the most awesome topiaries:

Their garden layout is also pretty spectac.

Vatican Gardens
Unfortunately you have to book a tour to see the Vatican Gardens (and pay a lot of money - the Catholic church didn't get rich out of generosity), which I hadn't done. You've been warned, book in advance.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Eggplant and Further Rhubarb Adventures

I ate my second homegrown eggplant today.  It's a big deal because Tassie is not the best place to grow eggplant - it's often considered too cold.  I bought two puny seedlings last year from the bargain bin at my local nursery (perhaps not the best way to start life either). They somehow survived two snow falls over summer, and one of them has produced 5 small eggplants.  The other produced beautiful purple flowers, but no 'eggs'. I can't explain the difference.

I grilled the eggplant and ate it with Shakshuka Eggs and haloumi, which accommodated my homegrown garlic, a few of the late season tomatoes, and silverbeet.  Silverbeet has become a true staple for me - it's so easy to grow in any season, easily reseeds, and can be cooked in a wide variety of recipes.

I thought I'd also post this bizarre photo of me splitting and replanting the rhubarb along the new garden beds. My aunt knitted me a 'plant' beanie, which I think seals the deal.