April showers always remind people of England not of Italy...all the sunny pictures that tempt you to the sultry beauty of Lake Como are not the reality of many seasons. When we first arrived here in 2005 I would have told you that it rained only occasionally and when it did, it was often over very quickly. The same would have been said for the winds that could blow up across the lake and the dramatic lightning storms.
This hasn't been so for several years. Just over two weeks ago the warmth of the sun fooled us all...many friends (as did I) put away our winter clothes and freshened up the summer ones...silly people. Within a day or two the temperature dropped and rain set it. Fires were lit and people complained. Trust me, it isn't only the British who talk about the weather all the time; Italians do exactly the same...it is either too hot, too cold, too wet or too dry...they, like the English are rarely satisfied.
But what about the plants...well they seemed to carry on what may...their rate of growth, initially accelerated by the warmth of the sun, hastened further with the copious amounts of rain. When I look back at my notes and pictures from last year, this season is at least two weeks later. But still for me it comes with a rush.
The placing of Scilla messenaica is much more difficult here because the intentness of the sun in summer is difficult to escape. The growth is much more lax, the flowers a paler blue. At Orchards the compact plants pushed up tight buds in the dappled shade in which they grew. The only direct summer sun they had was as the sun set and then it was a very brief moment that the rays bathed the plants.
A yellow bearded Iris given to me by a Sussex friend romps away, making its way under the lavender, away from the front of the border.
Rosa 'Sympathie' a pillar rose of a deep bright red and a heady fragrance was moved from the small border near the house and wound around one of the palm trees. Two quite different light situations. The palm gets no direct sun (at the level of the rose's growth), yet it's bud are at the same stage as the piece left in by mistake in full sun.
|Geranium renardii 'Zetterlund'|
Several of the hardy geraniums that I brought with me have failed but the two G.renardii that I have thrive in the thin sandy soil. G.r. 'Zetterlund' has flowered happily for a fortnight or more and spread more than G.r. 'Sarah Louisa'. Both are firm favourites.
Lily of the Valley - Convallaria majalis came from the peaty soil of the lower woodland at Orchards where Gay had planted them in the 1930s. They are happy beneath the canopy of the Acer the leaves and flowers appearing just as the tree comes into leaf. They receive only the briefest amount of sun in the morning. Leucojum aestivum - Summer Snowflake - is happy growing on the other side of the Acer where it receives no sun at all. It is grown in many gardens in the town.