Posted by: Debra Kolkka | March 20, 2020

Peony patrol

Day 11 of isolation and I did my usual peony patrol. I have about 70 peony plants at Casa Debbio and they are almost all on the move. Tree peonies bloom much earlier than the bush type.

Some of the tree peonies already have buds.

Some of the other type are still just shoots.

Others are zooming along.

A couple have not yet shown themselves. There is one, in particular, I have been watching. It is in a row where all the others have appeared. I checked in the morning yesterday, nothing. I looked again at midday, nothing. When I went back at 4.00pm there was a shoot about 4 centimetres high and it was as thick as my little finger. This morning another shoot appeared. How does this happen??

Peonies are the perfect plants for Casa Debbio. The wild goats and the deer don’t eat them. They require almost no work, just a little pruning of the tree peonies and keeping weeds away from the others. They just come up all by themselves each spring and look gorgeous.

I found 7 tiny peony plants which have come up from seed. I have moved them to a pot where I can keep an eye on them. This morning there are 2 more…I love it!

The weeping cherry is now in full bloom.

We lose a few lavender plants each year for unknown reasons. This year I am filling some of the gaps with daisies for a change. They are not perennials, but most things in the garden are, so adding some annuals each year is OK.

I found some verbena at the supermarket.

Gazanias should do well in summer.

Some of the rhododendrons are beginning to open.

Things are gradually turning green.

I think these are grape hyacinth. They pop up all over the place.

I wish the nurseries were open. There is always room for more plants.

Yesterday I made pulla, a slightly sweet Finnish bread flavoured with cardamom. The dough just kept rising. I thought it would take over the kitchen!
It turned out well, but I think I left it in the oven about 5 minutes too long. Anyway, it tastes great and I sliced most of it and put it in the freezer. It will last until my next supermarket visit.

Today has been overcast and cool, so I am back inside with a fire. Spring came a bit early this year, but when the sun is not out it is not warm.

Maybe tomorrow will be better.


  1. Always love when your weeping cherry puts on such a pretty show. Waiting on next weeks peony sightings.

    • There should be some flowers soon! The weeping cherry is starting to get leaves. That looks good too. The real cherry trees should have blossoms soon.

  2. Oh, this is such (another) lovely post. You covered so much of your day; even that fab looking bread – your talents ARE unlimited! Your interior shot gave me such a smile, mischievous, love that vibe. The weeping cherry, sigh, others budding forth, no matter what. I believe those to be grape hyacinths as well, a wild version maybe….please be reminded what a wonderful salve this is to the ails the world is experiencing. I feel most fortunate in being able to ‘visit’ you and your day. Lovely photos and info to boot. Grazie di nuovo!

    • I like to cook and it gives me something to do. I also made some meatballs with green curry paste. The recipe is from Not Quite Nigella. They are delicious. I have frozen them and will make the broth soon.
      This is a good time to try new things.

      • Just a little P.S. here … mention Netflix, the Two Popes etc. We watched a great movie the other day, courtesy of a Public Library program here (Toronto) called Kanopy. Access thousands of films with your library card for free. The name is: The Secret Scripture, with Vanessa Redgrave, male actors from Poldark and Sanditon….you might want to view this, assuming it would be avail. on Netflix. Without giving anything away I would like to say….’A story of faith and hope’. Btw, we whipped up a rhubarb/strawberry crisp yesterday, which delighted when eaten warm, the great dollop of whipped cream crowned it off. Looking forward to your next post.

      • Thank you for the movie tip! I like the sound of your dessert. Next time I go down the mountain I will look for some frozen berries.

  3. Loving these updates. I’m meant to be in Lucca right now and these posts remind me how beautiful it is- I love Italy all year round but Spring is especially stunning. Hoping you and your community stay well.

    • So far there have been very few cases in our area. I hope it stays that way.

  4. Pulla looks good. Enjoy your solitude just hope it doesn’t go on for too long.

    • Me too! I am fine now, but we will see how I feel if it goes on for a long time.

  5. Thank you for your post Debra….. very uplifting in these difficult times, especially for beautiful Italy. Your garden is just so beautiful. Stay safe and healthy

    • The garden is looking better every day with new things turning up. The forsythia is beginning to bloom. It always puts on a good show.

  6. Your garden is looking magnificent……so pleased that the weather is trying to be spring. Stay safe and healthy.

    • The garden is growing daily. It is certainly keeping me amused.

  7. That weeping cherry is very beautiful. Hope you have a couple of good books to read while you are relaxing by the fire. Stay safe.

    • I have books and Netflix. I have watched the entire 6 series of Grace and Frankie, The two Popes, another movie which I have forgotten the name of and am now working my way through Orange is the new black. There is little else to do here at night!

  8. I would love to be able to grow peonies but we don’t get sufficient chill hours- i will be planting more daisies this year and now that i am not being forced to trudge around Europe !!! I will plant more bulbs. Your cardamom bread sounds fabulous- will you be making hot cross buns?

    • I’ve never made hot cross buns. I guess I could give them a try. Peonies need a cold winter to grow. They are my favourite flower. I am so happy to be able to grow them here.

  9. Hi Deb, thank God for technology!!
    Your garden will soon be in full colour
    As far as the bread goes we will all be huge while we are isolating
    Betty Ford and WW will be good stick to buy
    Keep well and keep posting


    • Why do you think I froze most of the bread! The garden keeps me amused. I do regular tours to see what is growing. It is full of bees now.

  10. Keeping busy Deb. Beautiful weeping cherry & flowers. Garden must be looking great!
    Pulla looks delicious…enjoy!
    Stay healthy & safe in difficult times.

    • I am lucky to have the garden to keep me busy and amused. It changes every day. This virus is causing huge problems every where. Look after yourselves and stay at home!

  11. Your garden is always an enchanted one.

    • It is starting to grow! I love it and I will be getting to know it very well this spring.

  12. Love your posts Deb. The photos are super..,,and the garden 🥰. Oh and the cooking😙. We cooked seafood marinara as a tribute to Italy. On the same day we opened your post with the gnocchi photo. Isolation doesn’t seem to worry you at all; very adaptable. Keep well. We are hoping to dodge Coronavirus too!

    • I hope you avoid the virus! I am happy with my own company…and that of my peonies. There are still a couple more to appear. The aquilegias are growing and should flower soon.

  13. You have the most wonderful garden, and I love the weeping cherry! At least you can be out in nature, without leaving your place Stay safe

    • I am extremely lucky to be able to go outside. Many people don’t have that chance.

      • You are lucky, indeed…

  14. Thank you for sharing

    • I love watching my garden grow. It is so different from Brisbane where there is little difference between the seasons.

    • I love watching my garden grow in spring. It is so different from Brisbane where there is little difference between seasons.

  15. Deb the saying is ” tomorrow is another day” we are all hoping it comes quickly! Your garden is so interesting and beautiful and must be a delight to you.

    • I can’t see this lockdown ending for at least 3 more weeks! I will know my garden very well.

  16. Ooh that weeping cherry!!!!

    • It is gorgeous! It looks great when the leaves come too. I planted 3 more last spring and they are all doing well

  17. A beautiful garden. I’m sure it must keep you cheerful. Just love your weeping cherry tree, weeping for all of us. Take care, Pauline

    • The garden will be at its best in about a month. I am guessing I will be here very day to check its progress.

  18. A lovely post Debra, thank you, and your beautiful images are always a pleasure to see.
    Peonies are a favourite of mine too.
    All best wishes in the midst of this worldwide horror.

    • Peonies are my favourite flowers. I was delighted to find that I can grow them here. The first one I put in is now about 8 years old. It was in a pot on my balcony but was not doing very well. I planted it at Casa Debbio 6 years ago and now it get about 60 blooms each year.
      This virus is causing untold problems. I hope it passes soon.

  19. Beautiful pictures <3

  20. Your bread looks delicious! I am trying to make my own bread as well since my family and I have been home for just over a week due to the pandemic. I live in Michigan in the U.S. and our governor just issued a “Shelter in Place,” which is somewhat like a mandatory quarantine. I’m trying to put a positive spin on this by indulging my love of baking and try to expand upon my novice bread-making skills. I also have a very hungry, rapidly growing 16 year old who is happy to taste test anything I put in front of him I Have been closely watching the grim news regarding my beloved Italy and am happy to hear you are doing well. Our thoughts and prayers are with you all!. Thank you also for continuing your uplifting and lovely blog. It remains a bright spot in my day!

    • As Casa a Debbio is a bit remote and when I am here I don’t like go up and down the mountain every day. I regularly make bread. It turns out differently every time, but it is always good.
      We all have to make the best of this difficult time…good luck.

  21. This is really great

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