Posts Tagged ‘ italian gardens ’

You wait ages for a blog (part 2)

A lightning trip to Italy recently to shoot a couple of features – first, an unchanged 18th-century kitchen in a villa near Venice, still in use within living memory

Alex Ramsay

Then a three-hour drive to the mountains around Lake Como to stay in the sort of splendidly eccentric family-run hotel that is getting harder to find these days, followed by a day working in a lovely sixteenth-century villa, frescoed from top to bottom. Wonders behind every door – here a cupboard containing some of the family archives, going back to the early fifteenth century

Alex Ramsay

And back to catch the last of the sun and a little reward for two hardworking people . . .

Alex Ramsay

And finally, my latest book has just been published, The Gardens of Venice and the Veneto. Lots of pics, of course, and a luminously beautiful and perceptive text by Jenny Condie. As a reward for those of you who’ve scrolled down this far, I’m offering one free copy via Goodreads – see below to enter

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Gardens of Venice and the Veneto by Jenny Condie

The Gardens of Venice and the Veneto

by Jenny Condie

Giveaway ends November 05, 2013.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

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The Blog is Back

The summer seems to have passed in a long soggy flash, if you can imagine such a thing. I can’t believe I’ve not blogged since March – I plead far too much travel in mitigation. Repeated trips to the Veneto, to Sicily and Malta and a long visit to Japan resulted in an appalling deluge of pictures and an unwillingness to spend further time in front of the computer. I’m just back from Venice having completed my part of Gardens of Venice & the Veneto. A lot of fun to shoot thanks to the huge efforts of the author, the talented and beautiful Jenny Condie who has tracked down some extraordinary new places for our book, as well as the usual suspects. Among them are a Masonic garden with a skull-shaped grotto, a subterranean aquarium, monasteries, mazes and, this being the Veneto, more stone dwarfs than you can shake a stick at (if that’s your idea of a good time, as the great Groucho used to say). All this is just to whet your appetites – no pictures until nearer publication, I’m afraid. Well all right, just one –

Palazzo Soranzo Cappello, Venice

During my time off I found it impossible to take many photographs in Venice. Too many familiar views, too many cameras (and iPhones and iPads), too easy to take a quick snap instead of looking. I rather agree with those tribes who are said to believe that photographs steal their souls, and I begin to think that it may be true of places as well. I did succumb on occasion, though, particularly as one visit coincided with the annual Regata Storica.

Racing gondolas on the lagoon

the regata storico

Racing on the Grand Canal

the regata storico

A fanfare for a Doge

Further afield I’m working on a book on Zen temple gardens. I begin to understand a little more about these remarkable places, and how to look at them. The Japanese passion for stones became clear to me when I found this specimen, whose textured surface reveals a whole landscape.

Stone at Myoshinji

My last trip to Kyoto coincided with firefly season. Above the stream near my hotel the air was full of them, whirling up like sparks from a bonfire

Firefly

Shoden-ji, Kyoto

Todai-ji, Nara – the largest wooden building in the world

And finally, for those of you who are local, I’m sharing a small exhibition – In Our Empty Rooms – at the Sidney Nolan Trust of work made in collaboration with the sculptor Justine Cook, from the 13th-20th October. It will be a pleasure to see you at the opening on Friday 12th October, 5-7 pm. More information at www.sidneynolantrust.org

A new feature – more Italian gardens

In tomorrow’s Telegraph Magazine (Saturday October 9th), the first extracts from Italy’s Private Gardens. I imagine this means it’s now officially out there in the wide and savage world – please be gentle with our latest infant. The Telegraph has chosen to feature some of the Sicilian gardens we visited – a good choice, as they’re not often visited and completely different to anything you’ll find elsewhere in the country.

 

stena paterno

An expectant Stena Paterno next to a Chilean wine palm in the Paterno garden

 

 

garden photography often requires patience

 

 

Behind the scenes at San Giuliano

 

 

helena attlee

The author at San Giuliano

 

I’m just back from a few days in Oslo, shooting a gigantic building in the city centre for The World of Interiors. Less than straightforward, having to shoot on film with the most mixed collection of light sources imaginable, most of which could not be turned off. The building was the size of a young power station, and it also rained continuously for three days. Not an unmixed delight, all in all.

 

laughter

actually it read 'slaughter', but I was feeling optimistic that day

 

A new feature – Bramafam

A new garden feature in this week’s Country Life magazine (29th September issue), written by Helena Attlee. It’s about the clifftop garden of Italy’s most distinguished landscape architect, Paolo Pejrone.

Paolo Pejrone's garden at Bramafam

The villa in the mountains of Piedmont

Paolo Pejrone

Paolo Pejrone and young friend

gardeners

topiary work

By The Time We Got To Woodstock . . .

. . . we were roughly fifty strong. I’m speaking of course about the Woodstock Literary Festival, where Helena Attlee was ‘in conversation’ with Victoria Summerley of The Independent, talking about our latest production, Italy’s Private Gardens, (out in a couple of weeks). The interview went well – you can read one blogger’s views here.

helena attlee

Helena faces the gentlemen of the Press

It was a bit of a race to get to Woodstock, as the previous day we had driven back from a brief holiday in the Limousin – river swimming through autumnal woods and much reading.

starry night on the Creuse

Garden photography for the next book is starting to wind down, though not quite complete yet. I paid a flying visit to the Eden Project this week (horrible grey light and drizzle, sadly), Northern Ireland next and hope for a brilliant autumn to finish. (Though perhaps we won’t get one this year – don’t we need late summer heat to produce good leaf colour?)

Biome at the Eden Project

The Eden Project

dahlias

tidying up at Wisley

Finally, a film to recommend – Morris, A Life With Bells On. Very funny indeed, whether you love or hate this most peculiar of English customs.

Journey to the Bottom Left Hand Corner

To the Isles of Scilly last week, to shoot the Abbey Garden on Tresco. We took the ferry this time, in preference to the helicopter, to try to get some small sense of the isolation of these islands. After 35 miles of heaving grey-green sea and ditto passengers, you’re impressed by the determination of the Victorian garden visitors who travelled this way in huge numbers, and (at first) by sail.The Scillonian ferryThe islands were as beautiful as ever. Thick fog and drizzle had shrouded much of our journey from the mainland (and grounded the helicopter), but to our huge relief it cleared soon after our arrival, and dazzling Scillonian weather made its appearance.

rainbow over samson

Clearing weather over Samson

The garden looked great, a skilfully managed profusion of plants from both hemispheres. It’s the only place I know where agapanthus is considered a weed – it has spread itself across the dunes, where it looks amazing against silvery marram grass and the turquoise seas.

agapanthus on tresco

Agapanthus on the dunes

tresco abbey garden

The middle terrace

leucadendron argenteum

Leucadendron argenteum, the Cape Silver Tree

And finally, today saw the delivery of advance copies of Italy’s Private Gardens (actual publication date is the 7th October). A pleasure and a relief to see it at last – only elephants, I think, gestate for longer than publishers. In any event Frances Lincoln have made a beautiful job of it, as always, and Helena and I are delighted.

A new feature – La Foce, Tuscany

wisteria at la foce

Wisteria tunnel at La Foce

An appropriately spring-like feature in the current issue of Country Life magazine  (21st April edition) is Helena Attlee’s piece about the garden of La Foce in Tuscany, made by Cecil Pinsent for Iris Origo and her husband in the 1930’s. One of its major features is the wisteria tunnel, which we were lucky enough to find in full flower when we visited it last May.

I’m just back from a short trip to Cornwall, where I went to photograph the amazing magnolias at Caerhays Castle, some of the trees being as large as a full-grown elm – an astonishing sight, though so high that I really should have brought a field camera with me. Nikon make a couple of good lenses with a fair range of movements – may have to be this summer’s expensive acquisition.

magnolia

Magnolia at Caerhays Castle

The Gardens of Japan continues to do reasonably well – the French edition has now sold out so they’re reprinting there too, and it had a good review from Robin Lane Fox in Saturday’s FT – you can read it here.

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