I’m back. I’ve been away in Sicily, testing out the Italian food, exploring markets and finding hidden gardens. By far my highlight was the tiny island of Isola Bella (beautiful island) only reachable by wading through the sea. It’s now run by the Italian branch of the World Wide Fund for Nature, but was originally planted by the English eccentric Florence Trevelyan (1852-1907) an orphan who married the Mayor of the nearest town, Taromina. Florence created a total fantasy garden on the island, complete with grottos and underground passages. She died of pneumonia due to her obsession with taking baths in the freezing sea water in winter. Now that’s my kind of woman! For more info visit: www.italiannotebook.com.


Beautiful. Too hot for English rose type gardeners like myself though. Over thirty six degrees. I melted at the thought of lifting so much as a watering can in that heat.

Back in our lush tiny pocket of England it was straight into harvest, sowing and planting. The rain while I had been away has softened everything beautifully and actually soaked into the soil. I was reading that at Woottens nursery (also in Suffolk) the gardeners were literally dancing over the Iris fields with joy at the rain. We really have had drought conditions here.

Here are some of the harvest pictures. I love the vividness of colour that we are growing here:


Custard squash. Great frilled edges. I love this old tray too.


‘Catching’ the runner beans…


Bee blending in with the hot zing of our marigolds.


White currants. Sharp flavour. Not like frog spawn at all. Honest.


Green abundance as the microherbs line up awaiting harvest. In the background the wise BE chairs -resident since time began – sagely discuss the latest new-fangled ideas.


One of our purple potatoes. Yes, they really are that bright inside. Even the mash is purple!


Raffe with a cargo of marrows. I think they’ve been Raffe with his cargo of marrows. Avid listeners of classical music, they won’t be lounging like this for long once they get a slice of Novikov’s nightlife!


All the Italians were so certain that my friend Claire and I wouldn’t want to return home. As our plane came in to land, we hovered above the fat cumulus clouds, straining to see our first strip of England’s green.

‘Look!’ said Claire.

There was the crisp reflection of our plane and around it, in a perfect unbroken circle, a rainbow.

Within seconds of landing the woollen scarves were out. Yep. Feels like home.


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