The Amateur Gardener Tackles Lavender


Ciao Amalfi Coast Blog Lavender 2009


There are times when I love the internet and then times when I really love the internet. When it comes to learning about what’s going on in my garden, it’s generally the latter. Earlier this year I planted three new lavender plants, and they have been very happy in their new home. I can’t believe how much they have grown! Thanks to a great article I found online about How to Prune Lavender in Italy (could it be more perfect I ask??), I learned that now is the time of year to cut off the flowers. Even though this is their first year, my three plants produced a surprising amount of lavender, which I carefully trimmed yesterday morning. I smelled like lavender when I was finished! You can see it above before I tied it up and hung it to dry. Now is the fun part where I get to decide what to make with it once it is dried!


After their trimming, my three lavender plants look a little less unruly without the flowers going every which direction.


Ciao Amalfi Coast Blog Lavender trimmed


What a big difference from March when I planted them!


pansies and lavender


The adventures of the amateur gardener continue . . .

Attenzione – It’s Friday the 17th!

On Friday the 13th last month I was curious and asked my boyfriend if it was considered an unlucky day in Italy. I am often surprised how universal sayings, expressions and superstitions are, and I love to learn the variations. For instance, instead of saying “knock on wood,” Italians say “toccare il ferro,” which means to touch iron. As it turns out, Friday the 17th is generally considered unlucky in Italy. I wasn’t able to dig up much information, but I did find a couple of articles written on a Friday the 17th during the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino. This one talks about a few of the possible origins, but it seems to be just as hazy as the origins of Friday the 13th here in America. In Naples and on the Amalfi Coast, little horns are one of the most popular lucky charms. I have seen them made out of just about everything, from the more traditional gold and silver to ceramic in Vietri sul Mare and beautiful coral along the Amalfi Coast. I am sure many people will be wearing one (or more!) for good luck today.

Buona fortuna!

Adventures of an Amateur Gardener in Italy

Is there a surer sign of Spring than daffodils? The daffodils in my garden have been enjoying the rainy, cool weather far more than I have. This morning they were looking particularly happy, and I can’t blame them since it was a glorious day. I spent the morning down in the garden, working away to the sound of church bells, donkey hooves clipping and clopping up and down the stone steps, and the music of a man in a nearby terrace singing old songs. Today was the day for Spring cleaning and doing some planting and rearranging in the garden. As I have very little experience gardening, this is all new to me. I have inherited here a rather overgrown and barely maintained garden, which I have been hacking away at, trimming, and reorganizing section by section. For instance, here is how the section I spent the morning working looked about a year ago:

A pile of rocks that needed to be moved, irises that hadn’t been cut back in 5 or 6 years, and a jade plant crying out for help. The whole area has been dug out now. I decided to plant lavender there, which I know grows well in the garden. And I know how to take care of it now thanks to this lovely article on how to prune lavender in Italy. I also moved the ivy plant and replaced it with some much cheerier pansies, which always make me think of my mom.

My cat inspected everything after I finished, just to make sure I put things in the right place:

I think the jade plant, which recovered some ground last summer, was not pleased with all the rain this winter. It is in worse shape now than before. But I have a history of bad luck with jade plants. For the time being, I repotted it in what I have termed “pronto soccorso” (first aid). Does anyone have any advice on how to make it happy? Lots of sun? Not so much sun? How much water? It has lost most of its leaves over this winter. Will they grow back?

Always an adventure!