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ITALIAN GARDENS by JONATHAN RADFORD

Wild flower meadows in Italian gardens

Using ecology to save both work and cash must be the utopian dream of many of the world's nature lovers and bringing that dream to fruition somewhere, anywhere in Italy must be the quiet daydream of many a housewife. Many of us are migrating to warmer regions and Italy has become the Mecca of the modern nature lover, or rather, natural thinker! This dream has also been realised by many, however the standard of their modern gardens often leaves me somewhat perplexed. I often see rolling 'English style' lawns that require hours of maintenance and, more importantly, thousands of gallons of water being wasted to sustain a green turf throughout the summer. I find this whole state of affairs both confusing and rather sad, considering I have an alternative for dealing with those large areas of land that aren't really used for agriculture anymore yet still need to be presentable to visitors.

WILD FLOWER GARDENS

'Wild flower meadows', the term that was on the lips of many at the Chelsea flower show last year, along with a sentiment that attitudes were finally changing regarding living in harmony with your garden and your gardens relationship with its surrounding environment. Finally talk of this kind is not considered just a New-Age riff-raff but actually worth considering, as its rewards far out-way any initial investment and amazing gardens can be made from nothing by using Mother Nature to do the work and allowing her to really show off...!



What is a Wild flower meadow?

Wild flower meadows are formed when areas of soil are encouraged to sustain local plants that in turn maintain the delicate ecosystems, on which they depend. Wild flower meadows can also provide us with many healing plants (piante officinalis) such as wild thymes, a cure for breathing problems and wild- garlic, which is not only an amazing medicine but also a fantastic plant! A wild flower meadow provides us with one of the most stunning and eye-catching colour spectacles that nature has to offer. Reds and yellows battle, pinks and blues blend to create a natural harmony and greys and whites illuminate shaded angles of grassland, as if by magic! Butterflies flutter over thousands of flowers and towards evening the glow flies emerge to charm anyone who sees them with their sorcery.

There are many types of wild-flowers for many types of soil and there are many expensive wild-seed mixtures on the market and confusing suggestions as to where best to plant them. Unfortunately, when planted, these farmed seeds then often set about destroying the native wild flowers and subsequently the indigenous ecosystem by using powerful, underground enzymes to destroy the delicate root systems of the weaker native wild flowers. Such seed is often farmed in areas with completely different soils, wild flowers and ecosystems to those found in the host environment.

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