Mirror Image

The recent tour to Italy, my second this year, was beyond all expectations. Though you might think it strange, I truly enjoy seeing a place time and again, and often find a second or even third visit more illuminating than the first. With gardens in particular, it’s impossible to take in everything on a single visit. Plus, experiencing a garden at different times of year affords a broader perspective.

The June tour (my third trip to Italy but first Hortitopia garden tour) provided a firm understanding of the traditional Italian garden — linear spaces dominated by green plants pruned into hedges, cones, balls, and other shapes, and accented by terracotta containers, which are arranged symmetrically at regular intervals and filled with citrus or herbs such as rosemary or scented geraniums. This month’s visit provided an opportunity to examine details — the iron gates that mark entrances and exits, the grottos and nymphaeums provided for entertainment or respite from summer heat, and the fountains and statuary that serve as focal points.

Water parterre at Villa Gamberaia, near Florence.

Water parterre at Villa Gamberaia, near Florence.

The design feature that captured my imagination most, though, was the reflecting pools that mirrored surrounding plants and structures, or even better, the cerulean blue autumn sky. Large or small, these shallow bodies of water added a measure of mystery and tranquility that made any garden special.

Reflecting pool in the Giardino dei Limoni at Villa Reale near Lucca.

Reflecting pool in the Giardino dei Limoni at Villa Reale near Lucca.

Take two at Villa Reale.

Take two at Villa Reale.

A pond at the base of the Fontana dell'Organo and Fontana di Nettuno at Villa d'Este at Tivoli, not too far from Rome.

A pond at the base of the Fontana dell’Organo and Fontana di Nettuno at Villa d’Este at Tivoli, not too far from Rome.

I was especially taken with the Spanish Pool Garden at Giardini della Landriana, a lovely country garden roughly 35 kilometers south of Rome. Designed by Russell Page (British garden designer and landscape architect, 1906-1985), this slender canal, offering a mirror image of surrounding hardwood trees, made me wonder if there’s room for a similar feature in my own shady haven.

The Moorish-style pool at Giardini della Landriana, south of Rome near Tor San Lorenzo.

The Moorish-style pool at Giardini della Landriana, south of Rome near Tor San Lorenzo.

21 thoughts on “Mirror Image

  1. Martha Robinson

    Oh Marian, I have been writing my brief reflections of my first visit to Italy, September 10-21st with you and a group of Gaston County and Greenville, SC Master Gardeners.. You say it so much better than I. Hard to describe things that need to be seen, heard, smelled , tasted and experienced. The artistry is awe inspiring and the gardens unique and memorable.
    Bella Italy!

    Reply
    1. Marian St.Clair Post author

      Martha–Sharing the trip with other gardeners, especially those visiting Italy for the first time, made the 2014 tours extra special. I’m certainly looking forward to more adventures next year!

      Reply
  2. Sharon Lanier

    Just back from Charleston wedding (yesterday mid-afternoon) & family celebration of my mother-in-law’s 90th bday with the family. Loved this post!! I, too, loved the reflecting pool at Landriana. I can’t wait to begin reviewing & editing my Italy photos. I think I am still on brain over-load from this most “special” trip! My utmost gratitude for making it possible and so very memorable. much love, Sharon

    Reply
    1. Marian St.Clair Post author

      Sharon–I know what you mean, dispite the million and one things on my agenda I find myself thinking about Italy in every spare moment. I’m so happy we were able to do this one together!

      Reply
    1. Marian St.Clair Post author

      Susie–It was a great time to be in the country but the cities were packed! September is prime tourist time in Italy. If I was traveling just for myself, I would go 6 to 8 weeks later.

      Reply
  3. Christina

    You did squeeze in a lot of lovely gardens. Sorry we weren’t able to met up but hopefully another time. You should think about including Villa Lante and Palazzo Farnese at Caprirola, both wonderful Mannerist gardens, they are two of the most important gardens in the world and I’m lucky to live close to them both. If you need more information about them please feel free to ask, I take students to visit them on a regular basis so know them very well and I could explain their symbolism to you it it would be useful.

    Reply
    1. Rene

      I am a GGMG and I have this rose that you have shown above. Could you tell me it’s name? I believe I understand that you are in Italy. I have been told that it is a German rose.

      Reply
      1. Christina

        Yes it is Rosa veilchenblau, and yes I think it is German. The flowers are small and smell of orange. It is a rambling rose that flowers once. It is my favourite rose.

  4. Marian St.Clair Post author

    Christina–I might be in Italy next July and would love to met up if you are available then. The gardens you mention are definately something I would like to visit. So much to see and learn, so little time!

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s