I have always found Italian gardens alluring and romantic. In particular, classically styled gardens such as Villa Carlotta off Lake Como, whose gardens incorporations shrubs and trees which produces colorful masses of stunning flowers year-round in addition to manicured hedges and woodland areas and Villa d’Este Gardens at Tivoli, which features interlocking walkways, pavilions, grottos and rooms that showcases a myriad of water fountains (some cascading).
Although, most of the original Italian gardens are immense, smaller versions can be created for the home gardener and can equally be breathtakingly beautiful if planned properly. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
Uniformity – Shapes such as triangles, squares and rectangles are essential when creating garden beds or rooms. Generally, Italian gardens were created for security or to showcase wealth, but over the ages, their functionality turned leisurely.
Water Features – A central, large, well placed fountain (with or without a pond) usually ties the garden together along with interlocking walkways. Strategically, placed wall fountains or basins can also make the garden more welcoming.
Statuaries – Statues incorporated throughout the garden enhances the historical value of the Italian Renaissance area.
Planters – Large concrete or terra cotta planters can be filled with citrus or olive trees, shrubs or ornamental herbs and placed throughout the garden to enhance the garden’s appeal and sooth the senses of garden visitors.
Structures – Architectural features were widely used in classic Italian gardens; columns, pillars, grottos. A pergola can be used in their stead to bring a sense of symmetry to the garden in addition to bringing a bit of shelter on a hot, sunny day. Allow, vining plants to grow against the structure to provide shade or a sense of privacy.
I have included my version of an Italian-themed garden as an example of what can be created in a home garden. I have added plants such as:
Algerian Ivy – Hedera Algerian
Boxwood – Buxus sempervirens
Citrus Trees – Lemon – Citrus x limonia, Kaffir Lime – Citrus hystrix, Sweet Orange – Citrus sinensis
Italian Cypress – Cupressus sempervirens
Junipers – Juniperus communis, Juniperus media
Mandevilla Vine – Mandevilla splendens
Scarlet Trumpet Honeysuckle – Lonicera x brownii ‘Dropmore Scarlet’
Trumpet Vine ‘Monbal’ – Campsis radicans ‘Monbal’
Variegated Tree Ivy2 – Fatshedera lizei ‘Angyo Star’
Yew – Taxus x media ‘Viridis’
My favorite classic Italian Gardens (links attached):
Villa Carlotta, Como
Villa d’Este Gardens at Tivoli