Saturday, April 21, 2007

Simple Requests

We bought the house we live in here in the north of Italy five years ago. We knew that we'd be staying in Modena for at least another ten years and we didn't want to keep forking over rent money to someone else, so we decided that we'd make the investment and buy. I know for American standards it's quite small, only one hundred and ten square metres, but for Italian city standards it is big. The number one thing that made us choose this house was the garden. We're situated one kilometre from the historic center of the city and even though it is in a condominium, three sides of the house is surrounded by a private garden. In April the house totally transforms itself because with the warm weather we can open all the doors up (and put the screen doors down!) and literally gain another two hundred square metres of living space. Whenever I get restless working I can just walk into our garden and relax. When it's really hot in the summer I like to get up early and have my tea on the patio table outside.In the evening I often work on my computer on the back terrace where I planted all the herbs. Neither Piero nor I are gardeners per sè, but we love to be outside. The one thing that really excited us was being able to plant our own garden. The house was brand new when we bought it so the garden was just this plot of dirt. We decided from the beginning that I was the designer and Piero was the laborer. Fair enough! I didn't really know what the heck I was doing but one thing I did have clear: the back corner of the garden, the one on the far side of the house was going to be the "scent" area. I wanted all my herbs planted on that side so that I could just go to one corner for all of my cooking needs. On the far wall ending the garden I wanted jasmine vines covering the fence.

When we bought the house we pretty much spent all of our savings and bigger than life mortage on the house itself. Plus this was that year that I was blessed with a late life, totally unexpected pregnancy, so extra cash was scarce. I opted for buying small plants that were inexpensive and tried to have faith in our gardening skills and patience with the plants growing. The jasmine bush cost about ten dollars. It wasn't very big, maybe five feet tall with two stalks coming up from the ground, but the perfume that the blossoms gave off was inebriating. I couldn't wait for it to grow!

Grow it did. Those shoots seemed to take off overnight. I coaxed them off to the left and the right and tied them onto the fence. Over the winter the plant survived and had no trouble fighting off even the coldest snowy climate. When spring came around I was all excited, anticipating the sensorial experience, but nothing happened. No buds, no blooms, no flowers.

I thought to myself that this must be how it works; the plant has to grow and the first year there will be no flowers... but wait 'til next year! Next year did come...and go. In the meantime the plant was growing. I had to cut it down to prevent it from taking over the whole back garden. I regularly chopped off the shoots that were growing outwards and on to the persimmon tree. To get it to bloom I tried giving it more water. When that didn't work I tried giving it less. I tried liquid, pellet, and organic homegrown fertilizer. Nothing, niente, nada, not even one little bloom.

Three weeks ago Piero and I were in the back gardening and he asked me what I wanted to do with the Jasmine vines. I said that I was going to give them one more year and then they were out because it had been five years now and they really had been given all the time in the world to produce some flowers with no results so far. I stepped over to the jasmine vines and said to them "I really really like having you here but if you don't produce any flowers this year I'm going to have to take you out. You have about another month and then I'll be planting photinia bushes in your place. So, make a decision here." I said this out loud and straight to the plants. Piero was watching me. No, he doesn't think I'm crazy. Besides he's seen me do these type of things before. Observing me having a one to one, serious conversation with a jasmine vine didn't phase him at all.

Today I walked outside and smelt something in the air...

I immediately called Piero on the phone. "You know that Jasmine vine?" He started laughing. I didn't even have to tell him what had happened.


bergys_girl said...

Too funny :D

I remember your yard as only a mound of dirt! Are you able to take pictures of the whole garden this year? I can't wait to see them! :D

I planted some indoors today, to give them a head start and am hoping when I come home on weekends that I can plant my garden!

bergys_girl said...

P.S. Have you had anyone have problems getting onto here to leave messages? I had to use my email account and not my regular fatchickie one... it won't process and it drives me nuts! hehe...

I also remember that unexpected pregnancy! I still remember the look on your face :P