The little garden you can see was part of a convent garden in Venice since the 5th century AD. Fruit trees, a fig tree, olives and vines, climbers and citrus trees grow here. Ivy, aralia, palm trees, yucca, purple wisteria and ferns, fragrant jasmine, aralia and pittosporum grow next to roses, lilies and a pergola covered partly with uva fragola grapes and with wisteria.
On the terrace, the family grows kitchen herbs: Parsley, laurel, mints, sage, fragrant geranium (we use for syrup or to flavor pancakes). Erba cristallina, anise mint and rosemary. Raspberries, red currants, tomatoes and strawberries grow in pots next to ornamental plants like oleander, irises and lilies-of-the-valley. Kiwi and kaki, fig and a pomegranate tree, so typical for the Venetian Lagoon …
This first-floor terrace is connected to the kitchen on the ground floor via a black wrought-iron staircase that we call chiocciola in Italian. It’s a giardino movimentato, stretching across several levels which means that a greater variety of plants can be grown.
A large portion of the courtyard garden is covered with grass and as it is very low-lying, during very high tides it may become soaked. Then you see how a salty film covers the grass.
Pittosporum is a salt-resistant plant which grows down here, and it smells heavenly between May and July. There’s a little giardino ombroso where the fruit trees and berries grow on slightly raised and insulated beds. In a sunny corner, a few vegetable beds and huge rosemary bush grow, interspersed with wild and spike lavender, and a profusion of chamomile.
Vegetables growing are zucchini, egg plants and tomatoes. We get lots of salads of the soft kind called insalate da taglio, and of course arugula. We always grow frigitelli. And salicornia (we’ll come back to this herb in a blog post).
There’s also a small nursery to experiment with plants and seeds. Growing eucalyptus and hibiscus from seed, for example.