Tag Archives: Sunflowers

Glitter Shoed Gardening In Umbria

Hanging The Hammock,Rocking Dog

Hanging The Hammock

Good morning from Rocking Dog. I had good intentions of continuing to garden at 5.30 am on my return to the kennel, but alas….! To escape the piercing heat of the Umbrian sun I did indeed choose to garden as dawn arrived in the garden. I was awoken by my own dawn chorus of naughty chattering birds flitting busily on the ancient olive tree outside our bedroom window. I gardened in linen nightie and glittery sandals and as a result my legs are in a scratched and sorry state! The Italian version of Sticky Willy is coarse, barbed and unforgiving.

Umbria has had no rain for a few weeks now and the land is parched. It has been unusual to have such high temperatures so early in the summer season and there are real concerns for this years olive crop. The little olives have had no chance to develop before being hit by temperatures nearing 40 degrees. For those of us who pick olives as a pleasurable hobby a poor crop is sad but not an economic disaster. Meanwhile for those who depend on the crop for their livelihood a poor harvest is a severe body blow. Of course a poor crop trickles down to whole communities (pickers,olive oil pressing facilities, bottle & can suppliers,retailers etc…) Olive oil really is a way of life in Italy.

It is not only olives which have been affected, we witnessed vineyards blackened by fire and food crops struggling in the earth for moisture. A huge field of sunflowers have been planted over the garden fence and we hope that in a months time there will be a blaze of yellow on the horizon. Sunflowers are a rotational crop, so it may be a few years before the cheery yellow field reappears so close by.

Our grass resembles cattle driving prairie land. We hope rain will come soon. It was too hot to plant anything new, so leaf clearing and tidying was the order of the day. Planting will be done in October when we will assess what needs replacing after the sweltering summer.

We hung the hammock, added pretty lights and watered the thirsty geraniums. I found the most exquisite little nest on the path. It was truly an architectural masterpiece with grasses and soft pulpy seed heads. It was so soft, so delicate and tear jerkingly beautiful. I didn’t get to sit in my oak tree’d reading nook, nor use my telescope, the swinging chair remained un-sat in .. but getting close to unfamiliar plants was enjoyable.

And Suddenly it’s Evening by Salvatore Quasimodo

Everyone is alone on the heart of the earth
Pierced by a ray of sun:
and suddenly it’s evening.

It wasn’t all about work in the garden, we managed to fire up the ancient pizza oven after some remedial internal grouting. Of course the pool provided delicious respite from the unrelenting heat, and Michele’s provided the perfect escape for Prosecci and cake!

So, it’s back to verdant woodland management back at the kennel and I think wellies may be rather more sensible than glittery shoes!

Have a good week and at least the rain is on the way here.

Love Rocking Dog x

Watering The Geraniums,Rocking Dog

Watering The Geraniums

Garden Treasure,Rocking Dog

Garden Treasure

Unpromising Crop,Rocking Dog

Unpromising Crop

Lighting to Hang,Rocking Dog

Lighting to Hang

View To The Village,Rocking Dog

View To The Village

Early Morning Dip,Rocking Dog

Early Morning Dip

Escape For Cake,Rocking Dog

Escape For Cake

Fire Up The Oven,Rocking Dog

Fire Up The Oven

Back To Woodland Gardening,Rocking Dog

Back To Woodland Gardening

Feeling The Heat In Umbria

Umbrian Sunset, Rocking Dog

Umbrian Sunset

We certainly did feel the heat in Umbria over the weekend. With temperatures in the high 30’s and tipping into the 40’s, it was meltingly hot! I certainly feel more in control of my complex heat regulatory system in the spring or early winter in Umbria. A siesta is an essential part of Italian life, shutters close, shops close up, streets empty, market stallholders pack up, and the nation sleeps or eats, converses or rests.

After a truly delicious lunch under a leafy sun dappled pergola with our hosts, we sought refuge from the searing midday sun. Lloyd Loom chairs in a cool stone portico allowed us to stay outside, but inside. Incidentally, the lunch platter was amazing and included grilled lemon leaf wrapped Scormoza (a smoked mozzarella style cheese). Tomatoes, Parma ham, Ligurian olives, melon, figs and other Italian yumminess made the 4.30am dash to Bristol Airport absolutely worthwhile.

The landscape of Umbria in summer is so very different from that of the beloved olive picking season (late October/early November). The noise of happy and busy Cicada’s fills the air from the time the sun climbs into the sky until the air cools after dusk. Umbrian gardens’ are filled with fragrant lavender, Oleanders, Jasmine and showy Agapanthus. Meanwhile, fields are burgeoning with crops of towering Sunflowers, maize and wheat. Vegetable crops depend on lavish and frequent watering, and tomato plants do not require the protection of glass houses. Swallows swoop down over the pool refreshing their busy sculptural wings. Lizards bask in the sunshine, enjoying the warmth of the thyme frilled paving. Any interruption, and they dart into cool dark crevices seeking solace and protection.

Olives are tiny, they have four long months to plump up, blacken and ripen. The promise of a plentiful harvest is the hope of the entire nation. Nets will be unrolled and laid out, rakes and crates will be gathered, and the camaraderie of another olive picking season will begin.

Monday and Tuesday bought unrelenting heat. The only tangiable escape was to stay in the pool… or to retreat to the house.

A late afternoon stroll in the local hill top town of Panicale took us through shaded winding streets. I loved the tiled orange Madonna and child gracing one of the towns’ houses, its colours seemed to echo the heat of the day. Aperol Spritz’s were enjoyed in the town square- Umbrian sunshine in a glass!

Monday evening and with temperatures gently dwindling, we ventured out to a Lakeside caff’for food. Knowledge of the ordering system was preferable, if not essential. Pull ticket, await number call, hurriedly select food from a large covered glass cabinet. Steak, Calimari, battered vegetables, torte and non battered vegetables chosen, most were given a fiery baptism over charred wood. Another counter, another function, order and collect wine. Other counters, other functions, puddings, cheese, gelato. Pay. Head out to a Pine canopied lake view, tear your own tablecloth from banqueting roll. Eat, chat and watch the sun go down. Total cost about 45 euro’s for the four of us! Sunset truly beautiful and priceless, no digital retouching whatsoever required.

Fleeting visit, hospitable friends, lovely food and gorgeous scenery, molten temperatures and heat filled lethargy!

Welcome Lunch, Rocking Dog

Welcome Lunch

Seeking Shade, Rocking Dog

Seeking Shade

A Dip Perhaps?, Rocking Dog

A Dip Perhaps?

Orange Madonna, Rocking Dog

Orange Madonna

Orange Drink, Rocking Dog

Orange Drink

Busy Bees!, Rocking Dog

Busy Bees!

Lakeside Transport Caf', Rocking Dog

Lakeside Transport Caf’

Golden Veg', Rocking Dog

Golden Veg’

Moonlight Dip Anyone?, Rocking Dog

Moonlight Dip Anyone?