In high summer here in Tuscany it's hard to keep things growing and happy. There's a relentless sun overhead and much as we love it and are here for its benevolence it makes things hard for us gardeners. This fountain, in a private garden near Lucca, was built a year ago, and the planting that frames it is taking hold on this July day though the sun is bearing down in a sky that's as blue as the Mediterranean in high pressure when the weather is "stuck," and rain, or any hint of it, is weeks away. The terracotta path, of bricks from Chianti, is still a bit new, but will take on a patina in time. The Lucca-style bench is hand made of stone from Matraia.
This seating area had already been laid out by my clients' architect when I came upon the job, but the box hedging was planted by me and the furniture is of my design. My clients entertain here in the evening, a drink before dinner, with a view towards the fountain shown above and the Apuanne Alps in the distance.
One of the borders along the front lawn is filled with Agapanthus, a clump-forming, evergreen perennial from Africa, which stands up well to our cool winters here and loves the summer sun. There are dozens of cultivars of Agapanthus, but I tend to favor the blue ones, and I especially like them planted in the company of rosemary, as seen above. What we have here, in the end, is two Mediterranean plants of two different cultures, one European, the other South African, growing happily side-by-side.