Garden in Umbria - a view of Lake Trasimeno at dawn

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you really never water your garden, even when it reaches 40 degrees in summer?
No, never - except for plants that were planted within the previous year or two. Once they are established they have to cope.

What is the name of that huge rose next to the pond?
Paul’s Himalayan Musk.

Does your swimming pond attract mosquitos?
No, not more than were here before. The frogs, newts and dragonflies eat them.

Surely it doesn’t get that cold in winter?
Yes it does, probably colder than most places in UK, due to the altitude and the open topography. The cold ‘tramontana’ wind blows from the Apennines in winter. I plan for minus 6 degrees but it went down to minus 13 degrees during the ‘Beast from the East’ of 2018.

How many years has it taken to develop your garden?
We moved here 20 years ago but only really started to garden in earnest during the winter of 2008-9 when we had the pond constructed. Since then we have continued to add new features and planting.

How big is the garden?
There is no rigid boundary to separate garden from surrounding olive grove and vineyard so it is hard to be precise, but I suppose it must be a little less than one acre.

Do you have help in the garden?
Not as much as I would like and nobody permanent. I am too feeble to use a strimmer but tackle most other jobs.

Is climate change in evidence in this region of Italy?
We have always had very hot, dry summers but this year we also experienced an almost constant hot southerly ‘libeccio’ wind bearing sand from North Africa: this was a worrying change. Lack of rain in winter is becoming a concern too.

Do you use pesticides or herbicides?
Not if I can help it but sometimes a small quantity carefully applied is necessary to save a plant.

The photo at the top of this page shows a view of Lake Trasimeno at dawn (Photo Legambiente)

Many of these articles first appeared in the Castiglione del Lago monthly newsletter “Qua e là” edited by Priscilla Worsley

All text and photographs © Yvonne Barton unless stated otherwise

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