Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Garden Snoop

I'd often walked passed this elegant sunburst gate in Forte dei Marmi, on the seacoast here near the old city of Lucca, and wondered who designed the smart and sophisticated garden beyond of which you can get only the most limited of glimpses through the cutouts. Eventually I was surprised to learn that it's an owner-made garden, and not the work of an award-winning London designer. The gate is an indication of the taste and style that lie within—it's what first invited me to take a look. The open panels are cleverly set at the bottom, and not at the top, so that even if you get down on your knees your view will not be great, guaranteeing their privacy—but not too much! And the color is enormously chic!

Voila! Now we know that the driveway-sized gate no longer allows in cars. They wanted a garden here, and not a parking lot. They've opted to park on the street, or elsewhere, to give themselves this estate-like gravel terrace. I love the half-round mid-way to the house, and the huge cotto pots planted in a seaside spirit. It's late summer here now and the hydrangeas are drying on the plant in a falling, invasive kind of way; this is a garden with life and memories that inspire still more. The trim on the house is the same color as the gate, and the motif of the long balcony on the upper floor picks up the gate's neoclassical orders.

Just inside the gate a paved border is handled in this thoughtful, original way. Old pieces of terracotta tile have been cut into diamond shapes and laid out like flower petals, and they're all set in a gravel-thick mortar. It's both new and timeless.

Along a side wall a row of eight antique oil jars half-hide within an arbor-shaded border. The ivy and the creeper look like they've been here forever, but they're tamed just enough so that they only appear to have the upper hand.

This view through the center of the garden shows a sampling of Mediterranean plants that thrive here by the sea at Versiglia, plumbago in a pot, Cycas revoluta and even a few mature cacti in the distance. The gardener amuses himself here with lots of botanic friends to keep him company. I was passing by. Excuse my disturbance, my lens in the slits of your gate. I couldn't help but take a peek!

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