We've moved from Baltimore, Maryland USA to Venice, Italy in pursuit of living our dream!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

A Secret Garden in Venice

There have been books written about Venice's secret gardens. Where are they ? Always behind wooden or iron doors, surrounded by brick walls, away from Venice's curious visitors.  And always, when you find one, you feel as though you have been given a special little gift, the opportunity to sneak a peak at something rare.

My post today isn't about going on a secret garden hunt in Venice. No, it's about my own secret garden project in Venice. If you are a reader of my blog, you know from past posts that we had a marvelous secret garden at our previous apartment. Totally walled in, 600 square meters of private green space filled with iris beds, rose bushes, all sorts of flowering perennials, trees, a grape arbor that produced grapes, and yes, grass that needed to be mowed on a regular basis. Who mowed grass in the historic enter of Venice??? We did.

That garden was huge, and required lots of tender loving care. Although we were very reluctant to leave it, when it was time to search for smaller apartment, we were ok with our decision. Little did we know we'd take on yet another garden with the new apartment in Sant'Elena. Yes, we're now on Garden Numero Duo.  This one is smaller, about 1/4 acre, and also as sorely neglected as the last one had been. So we're back to work again. Welcome to my own "Secret Garden".

It's quite a work in progress. This one has been so badly neglected, the weeds have now grown to almost trees and are about as tall as I am. From front to back, side to side, there was nothing but wilderness.  Unfortunately, we didn't get down into the garden as soon as the weather turned warm. Our first priority was to get the terrace set up: new sun umbrellas delivered and constructed, lots of geraniums hauled home and potted.  With that work completed, it's time to kick it into high gear on the garden work. And the weeds that we should have tackled a few weeks ago have had lots of rain to nourish them into full blown monsters.


Above is a photo of Mike digging up stumps. I'd already finished pulling weeds from the area in the foreground.

Along the brick wall are not one, but two wonderful old troughs with running water.  We cut back a climbing vine that had taken over the wall. It looked nice, but I happen to be allergic to that particular vine. Anyone else allergic to Virginia Creeper??  And why has it followed me all the way to Venice?  There is a nice pink climbing rose along a back part of the wall.  I have visions of some terracotta lions on plaques taking up residence on this wall some day soon. 

This is the beginning of the weed pile that has since grown to about triple it's size. Our trash collectors will only take away one bag of garden trash per day. At that rate, I'm going to have enough bags to last us till November.

The first bed uncovered!  The whole entire garden has beds established, delineated by brick edges, with walkways in between.  We've gotten two of the beds completely de-weeded, and have planted one bed with tomatoes, the other with zucchine.  We have a smaller bed along the brick wall planted with eggplant peppers and watermelon.

There's lots more work to come down in our "Secret Garden". In the middle there is a lovely section with rose bushes we're working on clearing out, and 3 more large beds that are half-way cleared. I'm  already planning an iris bed along one of the brick walls.

Now you know what I've been keeping busy with.  We are so looking forward to some homegrown vegetables from our own little "Orto".  I think we have too many zucchini plants, we'll be selling some to the fruttivendolo in Sant'Elena!  Or I'll be making LOTS of zucchini bread!

As the season progresses, I'll be posting garden progress.


Susie L said...

Yay, a garden update! What a beautiful spot, I love the trough. I am looking forward to future updates.

Ă„iti said...

That is my dream life, not only living in Venice, but having an overgrown garden to rediscover. I'm looking forward to your progress reports.

karen said...

This post was with you in mind, Susie! The garden is an immense project, but in the end I'll be glad we tackled it. Yesterday I came upstairs after 2 hours so exhausted, and later on my shoulders were killing me. We are so blessed to have such incredible space!! Too bad you won't be back until winter and won't be able to do dinner on the terrazza with us then, but please put me on your calendar for something at Ca'Henderson!! And yes, I will add garden updates. I'm already on the lookout for some lion plaques. I want a wall like the one at Torcello!!!

Anonymous said...

I can only sit here and admire your hard work! Good for you, you'll have such pride in that garden. I guess zucchini loaf will freeze nicely. :-)

For lion plaques, try Giovanni Vio, a truly Venetian artist/artisan. He has shops in San Polo and Cannaregio, and his studio is on the Lido. http://www.vioartfactory.com/

karen said...

Grazie, Yvonne. I will check Giovanni out, I am so itching for a lion on our wall - or three!

Rob C said...

Hi Karen & Mike,
Looks like you're doing a great job there!


karen said...

Ciao, Rob! Thanks! It's massive amounts of work, not sure if we'll get everything done we have planned, but we'll make a valiant effort. Really looking forward to harvesting our own crops!

How are you and Natalie? Any plans for a next visit??


Dianne said...

What luck to have a private, secret garden and at the same time be in the most marvelous Italian city. One thing we Americans generally miss when we live abroad is private outdoor space -- not just a terrace but some kind of yard, a word that drives my springer spaniel Darcie crazy (she also goes crazy over the word lanai). I like the idea of the lion heads.

karen said...

Grazie, Dianne! You are so right about the lack of outdoor space when you live in Europe. And we know just how lucky we are to have some!!

Yvonne has sent me a wonderful contact for terracotta plaques here in Venice, I'm sure I'll be able to find a lion or two. I'm kicking myself that I left lots of them with my sister when I left the US from my garden there. It's just too darned expensive to ship things here, otherwise I'd ask her to send them all back to me. Nothing wrong with a few authentic Venetian ones, though!!