This summer we (by which I mostly mean Rene) have been working on the gardens. These have been neglected during the Covid years and because of Prof. Lars Aagaard Mogensen’s illness, so it’s time to start reclaiming the land from the passionflower and brambles that have taken it over. There’s a small garden with a grapevine, roses and an orange tree in ‘The Artist’ and there’s a bigger one (above) attached to our own apartment which has a lemon tree, an olive tree and two mandarin trees. First step is to cut back the overgrown trees and undergrowth and put down weed stop to control future growth. Long term, we’ll have to surface at least part of the gardens (leaving the trees and important plants in place) to make it all easier to maintain, so we are looking for an attractive and environmentally friendly way to do that.
The trees are covered in fruit, currently green – it’s a shame to cut the fruiting branches off, but it has to be done because the trees are far too tall. Over 20 years, they’ve always been incredibly productive, the lemon tree in particular. The lemons are the size of grapefruit and hang in the tree all autumn and winter like lanterns of sunshine. Else used to make limoncello from the lemons, and we’ve made lemon curd, lemonade and plenty of other lemony delights. The grapes and oranges in the garden of ‘The Artist’ are also delicious. We can take no credit for any of this at all, it just happens, but we certainly enjoy it. So do other people. The other day I bumped into a man who was staring at the lemon trees rather grumpily. He said to me (in Italian) “In Siena you pay 3.50 per kilo for these and here they just grow for free!” Which, no doubt true, but no idea how to respond when put on the spot with my fairly limited Italian, so I did a sort of expansive shrug and said “Il sud!” which was supposed to mean ‘That’s the south for you!’ but probably didn’t. Anyway he stared at me as if I was mad, then realised I wasn’t Italian and wandered off. Maybe he will eventually retire down here and buy a house with a lemon tree.