Maria, Maria, Quite Contraria

a Garden-1

How does your garden grow?

June is the month that kicks off summer vacations, and our enjoyment of all things outdoors. Gardening is one of those enjoyments. Some people take vacations to escape, check out, and relax. I like to vacation to places that inspire me, that feed my creativity, and that allow my world to expand. With this in mind, I thought I’d share one of the ways my Italian vacations have influenced my life back home—gardening.

Now to be completely upfront, I am not responsible for the gardens in the yard. My partner Richard is the green thumb. But when we vacation in Italy, we are both inspired by Italian gardens. Some are free to the public, like the Villa Borghese in Rome, others are open to guided tours, while some are only open via appointment, but apart from their varying degrees of accessibility, all are worth a visit.

Italian gardens, regardless of size, tend to have some commonalities: water features (whether fountains, pools, lakes, or streams), statuary (dogs are a favorite animal, mythological deities and creatures, or biblical characters), nympharum or grottos (a rocky subterranean-or underwater-looking structure where water nymphs and muses inhabit the ferns and water plants), and mathematical principals reflected in symmetry and proportion (often pathways are centered on a distant focal point of interest, such as a bell tower or monument; and they may be lined with trees or shrubs, again, luring you to explore further).

In our home “garden,” we have incorporated some of these Italian garden ideas. Simple single-spout fountains, small boxwood-lined planting beds, and decorative metal or terracotta planters are easy ways to take grand ideas from an Italian villa and express them in your gardening.

I hope you notice how we have done that, and that you find inspiration from photos of our garden, and of some of our favorite Italian gardens we have visited. Remember, you don’t have to rule a kingdom to be the master of your own gardening domain. A well-placed pot of petunias can be as beautiful and visually therapeutic as a 500-foot-long reflecting pool lined with marble water nymphs. Don’t be threatened by grandeur; be inspired by it!

When you eat something delicious you say that it is “buonissimo,” but this is a feast for the eyes, so I’ll wish you all well with this salutation~

“Bellissimo giardino!”—a gorgeous garden!


*Search the internet for more information about the Italian gardens featured below.

Our Garden

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Il Parco dei Mostri (The Monster Park), Bomarzo:


Palazzo Reale, Caserta:

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Cento Botanico Moutan, east of Bagnaia:


Villa Chigi Cetinale, west of Siena:


Giardini Giusti, Verona:

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Orto Botanico, Rome:


Vatican Gardens, Vatican City, Rome:


Villa Bardini, Florence:

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Villa Borghese, Rome:


Villa Farnese, Caprarola:

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Villa Chigi a Vicobello, overlooking Siena:

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Villa Doria Pamphili, Rome:


Villa Giulia, Rome:


Villa Lante, Bagnaia:


Villa Medici, Rome:


Villa Pisani, Strà:

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Villa San Michele, Capri:


Villa Torrigiani, east of Lucca:

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