Boccanegra and Gardens of the French and Italian Riviera

We have just come back from Boccanegra, a wonderful garden located in the south of Italy, just over the border from Menton on the French riviera.  We stayed with an amazing lady called Ursula who treated us to the best home cooked Italian food you could imagine, in exchange we worked in her beautiful garden.

The weather on arrival wasn't  quite as i had imagined

The weather on arrival wasn’t quite as I had imagined.

In the week leading up to our visit, the rain was so torrential and so unexpected quite a lot of damage was caused to some of the walls that make up the terracing at Boccanegra.

The bad weather was persistent and our first couple of days were spent in the greenhouse doing a job I’m sure many of you are familiar with.  Sorting pots!

We were almost snowed under with the amount of pots Ursula had collected over the years.

We were almost snowed under with the amount of pots Ursula had collected over the years.

Our perseverance paid off in the end.

Our perseverance paid off in the end.

We did get some breaks in the weather and ventured outside to help Ursula with clearing and tidying just a small section of the gardens at Boccanegra.  A problem for many gardens with pine trees at this time of year is clearing up all the spent pine needles.

Before - A carpet of pine needles

Before – A carpet of pine needles

After - All cleared away and weeded.

After – All cleared away and weeded.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the best things about working at Boccanegra was Ursula’s Dog ‘Drago’ which in Italian means Dragon, which is a very apt name for this big friendly giant of a dog.

Drago

Drago

On our day off we were lucky enough to visit La Mortola – Hanbury Botanic Gardens, situated just around the coast from Boccanegra.  This vast garden built on a gradual slope uses clever winding paths and steps with terracing to lead you all the way down to the sea.  Here are just a couple of snaps of the garden and the amazing views.

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We also visited two privately owned gardens on the french riviera the first being Les Colombieres, with its amazing vistas and striking dark terracotta.  It was designed to be different to most of the gardens on the riviera, with less tropical planting and more of an evergreen feel to it.

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The second garden we visited was Clos Du Peyronnet, a more intimate garden with more of an evergreen feel, but with a mix of tropical fruit trees aswell.  Clever vistas are also a key part of this wonderful garden.

A clever use for old glass bottles all found in the rubbish.

A clever use for old glass bottles all found in the rubbish.

 

A garden we could not miss while we were over in Menton was Serre de la Madone the creation of major Lawrence Johnston, the very same man that created Hidcote.  It was very interesting to see the similarities in the two gardens, but also the differences in plants used.  Serre was surprisingly shaded when we visited but almost never suffered damage through frost which enabled the growing of plants that don’t like the frost.  Here are just a few snaps from the visit.

The pool here reminds me very much of the lily pond at Hidcote

 

This parterre hedging very similar in layout to that of the Fuchsia Garden at Hidcote.

This parterre hedging very similar in layout to that of the Fuchsia Garden at Hidcote.

A vista very similar to those at Hidcote.

A vista very similar to those at Hidcote.

Very much reminds me of the steps leading down to the bathing pool at Hidcote

These steps very much remind me of the steps leading down to the bathing pool at Hidcote.

On our last day before flying home we managed to visit an all together different garden Jardin Exotique De Monaco.  Focused  entirely on exotic plants like succulents and cacti, set on the cliff side above Monaco, the Jardin Exotique offers some breathtaking views above Monaco and is home to some of the largest specimen cacti I have ever seen.

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