Giardini in Fiera

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A visit to my local farmer’s market reminded me of Rob’s trip to a garden fair in San Casciano in Val di Pesa some years ago.  He happened to be in Italy shopping for terra cotta, and saw an announcement for the Giardini in Fiera.  Literally translated “garden in flower”, he was intrigued.  He took the morning and travelled south of Florence to the fair. 

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He was not disappointed. Much like our market, there was a little of everything to see, and buy.  Roses, shrubs, waterlilies, grape vines, fruit trees, evergreen topiaries and the like.  Not fancy –  festive.  Just people who grow plants exhibiting for people who garden and grow good fruit to eat.     

Europe 2006_09 045Fruit trees, fruiting shrubs and grape vines were represented in lots of varieties. We plan to offer fruiting trees, shrubs and grapevines at the store this coming spring, as Rob’s memory of this fair is a strong and good one.  My favorite-the fruit cocktail trees, with 5 varieties of apples or pears, grafted onto a single rootstock.  The idea of this appeals to my idea of gardening fun and festivity.  I would have loved trees like this as a child, and I still do. 

Europe 2006_09 021This display of different varieties of figs-more fun.  How better to choose a fig tree than to have the fruit in front of you to hold, smell, and see?  I do have a client of Italian descent growing fig trees; her love of gardening, growing food and cooking she inherited from her grandfather.  One of his grapevines now grows in her garden.   She is willing to bury her fig trees in compost for the winter-this tells you how much she wants them.  How I envy the Italian climate such that they can grow figs, lemons and limes.  

Europe 2006_09 031The little of this and some of that quality of this fair is engaging and charming.  This is my favorite time of year for my own farmer’s market.  The produce and fruit is as beautiful to look at, as it is to eat.  The bunches of cut flowers, grass bouquet’s,  the evidence of the summer harvest, speaks to much about why I garden.  Making something grow is just plain satisfying.

Europe 2006_09 020The apples and pears have the spots, dings and scars that come with naturally grown fruit. Years ago I owned five acres that came with 20 fruit trees. I would pick the fruit warm from the sun and eat right then and there-around the spots if need be.  This is a version of fine dining that I like.  

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Would it not be great fun to load up a few potted Italian cypress from the fair for your garden? I want things that I cannot have as much as the next person.  For years I nurtured to magnolia grandiflora trees in pots, and garaged them for the winter.  Eventually I had to give them up; they grew too big to handle. My magnolias blooming outside in Michigan in June-what romance, while it lasted.

Europe 2006_09 019I am able to buy and eat food that cannot be grown where I live. I am glad I do not have to do without figs, lemons and mangoes.  But Rob’s pictures make me wish I had been there.

Europe 2006_09 033This is my favorite display-sagina subulata grown in fruit boxes. What a gorgeous look. This I could easily do. I might even like to just grow it in boxes.  What would never occur to me to do-display the spacing layout on the ground.  The sign says one box will get you three square meters of Sagina; if you don’t believe it, look here.  

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This basket of fruit looks delicious, yes.