venice biennale

Visiting the Venice Biennale this summer was an inspirational experience. The setting on the edge of this amazing city is a spectacular cool, green park. Some of the art pavillions are more botanically focussed and therefore suit this blog.

Outside the Scandinavian pavillion remain signs of the origin of the park.

Bienale park

This laquered plaster botanical sculpture by Natalie Djurberg is part of an extensive series which filled a large, dark room.

botanical sculpture

The wood panels in the Japanese pavillion surrounded an old water basin filled with aquatic plants;
wood panels along water basin

The Venetian pavillion, although reminded of the famous glass work of the Murano factory, is the work of Dale Chihuly, an American artist;

venetian glass garden

succulent cake

Sempervivums are on the top of my list of favorite plants. Their form and function, especially in containers, invaluable to any garden. I was amazed at this display at our rental house in Tuscany where they are happy plants in afternoon shade. Much like a frosted cake, they spill over the large cement container and require little besides a rare drop of rain. 


potted garden

I’ve heard people complain about not having enough room to create a garden. In this photo taken in a small medieval village in Tuscany, Italy last week, you can see that space nor soil is a requirement for creating a green welcome to visitors.

Taking into account the dryness, heat and lack of natural soil (and depth of less than one meter!), this resident has succesfully created what I’d consider a lush garden suiting to its limestone environment. 

Tuscan green

secret garden

The most wonderful garden discoveries are usually the ones behind closed doors and gates. Inner courtyards are full of hidden treasures and I often find myself inside these private spaces and pretending not to understand any signs or symbols regarding entry. Here I came upon such a treasure in Genova, Italy (that’s me in the center with my two eldest sons), amazed how such an elaborate terraced garden is used as a parking area for the employees of the surrounding bank building.genova, Italy

tree identification

I came upon these “tree boards” in a storefront in Bologna, Italy. They seem a simple, effective way to teach tree identification to children. They can be passed around from desk to desk or displayed in the classroom. Of course, these boards can be created with any plant material although some types could deteriorate quickly.

tree boards