Friday, 15 May 2009

Vertical Gardens

Susanna and I recently returned from a week's holiday with the Irish Tree Society on the Riviera, staying at Menton, just a few miles from the Italian border. We saw some beautiful gardens, but almost all of them were vertical, as you can see from these photos. Where the Alps run down to the Mediterranean, that is the only practical way to make a garden, building on existing olive terraces. They are beautiful, but difficult for those who do not walk well, including Susanna, when to see it properly you must go down 200 steps knowing that you must climb 200 steps back up again!

This photo shows one of the olive terraces at the Villa Noailles at Grasse which has not been planted with exotics. The flowering meadow underneath the ancient trees was very beautiful, full of wild flowers including Green-winged orchid and a variety of Bee orchid.
And this photo shows the view of the sea from the terraces of Boccanegra at Vintimiglia, punctuated with cyprus trees.For me the most exciting plants to see were the exotic conifers which we cannot grow in Ireland, including several species from Australasia, including Araucaria bidwillii, A. cunninghamii, A. heterophylla (Norfolk Island pine), and Agathis australis (the mighty kauri of New Zealand).

The weather was mixed - 2 fine days, 2 days of rain which I choose to ignore, and 2 fine days to finish.

Susanna and I took one day off visiting gardens, because her legs were giving her such problems, and I climbed up the hill in Menton to the old cemetry, which is stuffed with foreigners with English, German and Russian names. The inventor of Rugby football William Ellis is buried there, as is Aubrey Beardsley the strange English illustrator. But what fascinated me most was to discover an Irish relative of mine, one Caroline Laetitia Otway, daughter of one Admiral Robert Waller Otway of Castle Otway in Templederry, where I regularly lead Matins!

On our return I took Susanna over to see her orthopaedic surgeon in Galway, to see whether he could do anything to ease the pain she gets in her knee. The result - the problem is not with the knee, but with the hip. My poor dove must prepare herself for yet more surgery. It seems most unfair.


Daniel & Sonja said...

Thank you for sharing your fascinating adventure. I'm sorry to hear of Susanna's hip. If it's any consolation I know many people who now have a new lease of life following orthopaedic surgery.

Joc Sanders said...

Thanks, Daniel. Please God she too will be given a new lease of life. She was just getting back to normal after having two knees replaced when the hip went bad. But at least she has a clear diagnosis, and everyone says hips are less hard on the patient than knees

Anonymous said...

Holiday sounded lovely as were the photos. so sorry to hear about your wife but i too have heard so many stories very successful hip replacements.

Joc Sanders said...

Thanks for your concern, Paula!