Sunday, June 1, 2014

It Was In The Stars: A Visit To The Italian Garden Of Villa D'Este

On a recent spring trip to Italy, I found myself in a small town outside of Rome and the stars in the heavens were aligned in my favor. It was a constellation of circumstance lined up like Orion's belt. I had a rental car, my husband, who was willing to drive the Italian roadway, and the realization that we were about 40 minutes or so from Tivoli, home of the masterpiece Renaissance garden: Villa D'Este. Like the Palace at Versailles, this Italian garden had profound influence on gardens worldwide. 

We even had GPS, although that took us to a street that dead ended on a grassy road in front of a stone over pass. We were close to the Villa, according to a local, but after several attempts through narrow streets, rough roads and limited signage, we took her advice and parked, then walked up through the town to the Villa.

It was a charming peek into this village

in the Italian country side.

I had no idea what to expect at the Villa D'Este, but I was excited because I knew it was a must see garden. The courtyard was a peaceful spot where I rested for a short time before entering the villa.

I think I only stayed inside the Villa for a few minutes before finding this terrace. 

Our self-guided tour started with spectacular views of the garden below

and the country side. We stayed here for a while taking it all in.
I saw wisteria blooming in purple,


multiple trees covered in pink blossoms,

 pots filled with tulips 

and more tulips.

 There were lots and lots of 

 sunny, yellow tulips reflecting in the water of two back-to-back ponds.

If you love a garden with fountains (and who doesn't?), then Villa D'Este is a good one to see.

The Oval Fountain
There are 500 fountains in this garden (what?), which is built on two steep slopes and terraces down from the Villa. I'm thinking it must have been a hydraulic engineering nightmare in the 16th century, but I'm not surprised they pulled it off.

I have no idea if I saw 500 fountains, but this one is the show stopper. (It is actually a combination of two: the Water Organ fountain and the Neptune fountain.) It is about 80 feet tall and the sound of water is loud. I do know it will certainly be a fountain I won't forget. 

And, there is one other thing I won't forget--this:

 the best tiramisu ever, found at a restaurant we stopped at while walking back to our car.

This is GardenEnvy.

Copyright 2014 by Jeannine at
 GardenEnvy logo by dezine9. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Chihuly Garden And Glass Springs To Life

After a frustrating glitch pulled GardenEnvy 

from the blogosphere for weeks, I am happy to say that I'm back in the saddle again---oops, I mean, back in Seattle, again. And, I'm doing what I love: blogging about gardens.

You might recall my recent winter visit with this lucky guy to Seattle Center's Chihuly Garden And Glass. We were belatedly celebrating an anniversary, and having a pre-Valentine's Day fling in the Pacific northwest to keep the marital flames burning brightly. 

We found them glowing here, in this snow covered garden--an enjoyable, albeit out of the ordinary,  garden visit for me.

Then I revisited the Chihuly garden a few months later, in the beginning of May. Of course, I found spring bursting out all over, as they say. Let's face it, spring was made for gardens; or, should it be: gardens were made for spring?

The snow provided beauty in its own right, but the plantings were a mystery and as much I liked seeing snow, I was itching to know what plants would fill this garden. 
This electrifying glass sun is on a bed of black mondo grass! 

Bright tulips echoed the colors of that blown glass.

It was difficult not to focus on all of the tulips, since I do not get to see these elegant flowers grow in the Southwest.

Dark contrasted with bright and this was repeated in the garden, both with the glass and the plant material.

 My only disappointment was the realization that the only camera I had with me was my iPhone.


Actually, it wasn't too bad; I still captured some of my favorite scenes.
And I realized I had to make the best of it.

Since my hubby was not with me to take my picture in the garden, I made use of the popular feature of the iPhone.  So next thing you know, it was selfie this

and selfie that.

But, back to the garden. Of course, being the Pacific northwest, one would anticipate rhododendrons like these to make an appearance in the Chihuly garden,

and, of course, stunning Japanese maples would be a given.

And with these patriotic hues of red, white and blue, it is a good time to wish everyone in the States a happy Memorial Day holiday!

This is GardenEnvy.

Copyright 2014 by Jeannine at
 GardenEnvy logo by dezine9. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

A Garden With The View: Villa Rufolo

It's known that I am a pushover for a garden, 

any garden.

Spring flower beds planted with viola?

But a garden set in a 13th century villa, with stone buildings

and beautiful architecture in Italy? Even better.

How about a stunning sculpture show, by Alba Gonzalez, in the garden?

She's got my attention.

Oh, and throw in a peek-a-view.

iconic Italian stone pines.

gorgeous blue water, mountains and a coastline,

and it just doesn't get much better

than this garden with the view, from Villa Rufolo, Ravello, Italy.

Ciao, bella!

This is GardenEnvy.

Copyright 2014 by Jeannine at
 GardenEnvy logo by dezine9. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Glassy Eyed In Seattle's Chihuly Garden And Glass

The combination of two Seattle icons

 was the unexpected highlight of a visit to one of my favorite American cities this past weekend. My husband and I were celebrating a belated
anniversary and an early Valentine's Day in the emerald city. When I learned about the exhibit, of course, I knew we had to see it.

The Needle, at Seattle Center, is an appropriate backdrop for Dale Chihuly's 
"Gardens And Glass," which opened here in 2012.

The glass artist was born in Tacoma, Washington.

This is a vibrant display of the artist's unique talent of making colorful blown glass sculptures, combined with his appreciation of gardens and his love of conservatories.

I have seen his glass several times before, including in Chicago's Garfield Park Conservatory and in other locations in Seattle before. Chihuly also studied in Italy and has had major exhibitions of his work at the Louvre in Paris, Venice, Jerusalem and England. 

Inside the Seattle exhibit, "Mille Fiori," (or a thousand flowers) is jaw dropping. 
 It was inspired by memories of his mother's garden.

I think I see glass that resembles an aloe plant.

This display, the Ikebana and Float Boats, is also in a dark room like Mille Fiori and built on black glass to mirror the image.

And this, the Persian ceiling, made me think that Chihuly may very well be the 
Michelangelo of glass.

When Chihuly started designing glass, he was inspired by patterns in baskets and colorful textiles of Native Americans.

He builds pieces together to create large sculptures that hang like chandeliers.

We had the opportunity to see the garden after a snowfall the night before. Even in the dismal gray of winter, there is a sense of wonder in Chihuly's garden.

Snow, the gray skies of Seattle and Chihuly glass adds a remarkable artistic dimension to this winter garden you won't see anywhere else.

 As 'Ron Burgundy' might say, you stay glassy, Seattle.

This is GardenEnvy.

Copyright 2014 by Jeannine at
 GardenEnvy logo by dezine9. All Rights Reserved.