Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Great Gardens of Italy

The garden at Ninfa (from the Great Gardens of Italy book to accompany the series)

I have really enjoyed the BBC2 series "Monty Don's Italian Gardens".  As this series followed straight on from Gardeners' World on a Friday night, I was in my element with an hour and a half of gardening.  Prior to this series, I had always thought of Italian gardens as beautifully formal and green, green, green, with masses of topiary and the containment of nature as a huge advertisement of power.  A lot of the gardens were an extension of the enormous houses and created by incredibly wealthy cardinals trying to become Pope.  However, I now find that originally, the formal lines contained a riot of colour with planting which has not been continued down the years, so our view today is of only part of the gardens.  I must admit to being very relieved about that.  I do like the formal lines, but I need the floofy planting to go with it.
There were many gorgeous gardens featured in the series, but my absolute favourite was the garden at Ninfa.  This is about 30Km south of Rome and was created around the ruins of a Medieval town.  Monty himself described it as "the most romantic garden in the world" and even though I haven't seen it in the flesh, it looked magical on the programme.  If I ever get the chance to go to Italy (I have been once but it was a school trip and didn't include any garden visits), I would love to visit Ninfa and some of the other inspiring places.
The last programme is available on iplayer: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b010y067/Monty_Dons_Italian_Gardens_The_Veneto_Lucca_and_The_Lakes/

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