Posted by: Debra Kolkka | June 4, 2022

I’m going home

After almost 2 and a half years in Italy I am going home to Australia. It has been a bumpy ride with lock downs, cancelled flights and a broken ankle. Despite the speed bumps I have loved my time in Italy, but now it is time to go home.

I managed to do some travel, despite the ever changing restrictions, visiting new places and revisiting favourite places. I have written posts on most of these trips.

Lots has happened at Casa Debbio with the garden growing ever larger. We have had some new dry stone walls built on the steep slope in front of the house. It has always been a difficult area, hot, exposed and with rocky soil. Ugo, from the village, built the walls, with the help of the wonderful Filippo.

I have planted low growing plants on the wall. They are beautiful and I don’t want to cover them.


The walls have only been built for a few weeks but the plants are growing.

I painted a small sign to dedicate the wall to Ugo and Filippo. I will get a permanent one in marble when I have more time.

The path to the wall got a bit trampled but the new grass is starting to grow back.



There can never be too many frogs in the garden.

Filippo had a great idea for the wisteria I wanted above the walls. He suggested rostre, semicircular metal frames often seen over old doors in Italy. We scavenged 6 and the wisteria is growing well on them.

Wisteria in other areas didn’t do as well as other years, but still put on a good show.

Now the leaves have grown and give us shade under the pergola.

Peonies bloom for a couple of months at Casa Debbio. I love them.

Aquilegias come up every year all by themselves and self seed, the perfect plants.

Verbena comes up in spring for a few years.

The weeping cherry blooms briefly in early spring.

Its leaves now almost reach the ground. I have put a chair underneath and actually sat quietly there for a while.


Lavender flowers are starting to grow.

We have artichokes growing.

The acanthus plants all have long stalks of spiked flowers.

Wild fennel is growing beside a huge sage bush.

There are different wild flowers every month.

I planted hostas in autumn last year under the chestnut trees and they finally reappeared long after I thought they had given up.

The ricotta, or snowball flowers came and went.

The roses in front of the house are stunning.


The old table which Filippo turned into a planter is looking great.

I grew nasturtiums from seeds. This one in the pot must like its home.

We have lots of these wonderful lizards in the garden. They can grown to be quite long, mostly tail. I love to watching them scuttling in and out of the rocks and sunning themselves on warm days.

The wall with painted chairs was looking a bit tired so I repainted it. I was a bit pushed for time at this stage so I did something simple. It will do for now.

It isn’t easy to leave my garden, but I know that Filippo will do a great job looking after it. I hope our guests this summer enjoy it as much as we do. I will miss my life in Italy, but I will be back in September to pick up where I left off.



  1. Stunning photos. I had a lovely sad/happy emotional feeling reading your post and looking through your photos. Your garden has certainly benefited from your long Covid stay.

    • In the first lockdown I spent almost 3 months in the garden. I even managed to get a bit of a suntan. My plants seemed to enjoy my company. It is always difficult to leave my garden, but particularly after it has been such a great place to be in an awful covid time. I felt very lucky to be in such a beautiful place.

  2. Your garden is beautiful! Have a safe trip home..,,you’ll be back before you know it!

    • I can’t believe it has been so long since I was at home. At times the days seemed to drag but now time seems to have disappeared in a flash.

  3. It must have been quite a wrench to leave your magnificent garden. Safe travels home to Oz. xx

    • It was hard to leave but I know it will be cared for. A few months at home will be great.

  4. Your garden is stunning, a work of art. You have always been creative and stylish.

    • I haven’t done it alone and it is now the result of almost 10 years work. It is a delight to wake up each morning and walk along the paths to see the changes each day brings.

  5. Golly that’s lovely and the new walls are marvelous. Your garden always makes me think of the movie Enchanted April. The bees must love your garden too. Safe travels

    • I love that movie. It was filmed not far from where our house is. Gardens are such a delight, particularly in spring when everything comes to life.

  6. Well, your return to Australia will be an adventure too! We look forward to it and trust we see some lovely work of yours in West End as well!

    • I am excited to be coming home. I have lots of plans for my time in Australia, including sewing. I have suitcases full of fabric.

  7. There’s no end to the beauty of your garden. You and Filippo are the ultimate team for sure! Definitely overdue for a visit to Brisbane tho’. Safe journey Deb.

    • A garden is a lot of work, but so rewarding when you see the results of the digging and planting. I am happy to be going home for a while.

  8. What journey it has been for you over the last couple of years. Your garden has certainly grown in the time you have been there, and looks fantastic. I love the new stone walls, they look amazing.
    Have a safe trip home, I’m sure family and friends will be looking forward to seeing you.

    • Our new walls are beautiful! I hope the new planting works. Each spring is an experiment, some things work, some don’t. I might try something different for the walls next year.
      I can’t wait to rediscover Brisbane. There are lots of new things to see,

  9. Hello Deb, so good to see that you are traveling home after the long and uncertain Covid break…

    Your beautiful photos remind me of the stressful time we had during the lock down days and how I used to spend hours spending in our garden.

    I resorted to macro photography and it was the best way to relax and de-stress my mind.

    One of the few virtues of the Covid break was, many could get connected with nature and appreciates its beauty and the soothing effect.

    Wish you a welcome break in Australia and your beautiful garden will be calling you back to Italy even more loudly than before 🙂

    • My garden was a wonderful place to be through the lockdowns. I felt very lucky to be in a beautiful place where I could be outside and able to work in the garden. Last year I broke my ankle in the garden and was in lockdown in a wheelchair…not so much fun. At least I had a lovely view.
      I am happy that you had a garden too. Lockdown must have been very trying for people trapped inside. I felt a bit guilty that I had open space to enjoy.
      Australia is calling me right now, but it won’t be long before I am keen to return to Italy.

  10. The dry stone walls are magnificent & suit your garden beautifully. Love the sight of your peonies & even the nasturtiums look wonderful tumbling out of the terracotta head. Am sure you will miss your beautiful garden & hope our Queensland weather improves for the time you are here. As predicted we are still experiencing a lot of rain & would like some sunny days to dry out. Your time here will go quickly so hope you enjoy it all.

    • We are delighted with the new walls. I wish I could see how they will look with the new plants and the regrowth of the grass below. I hope there is some rain this summer. It has been a job to keep the water up to everything. Casa Debbio needs some of the rain that has fallen on eastern Australia.
      I am happy to be coming home.

  11. What a great job you have done with stunning results. Can’t wait to visit again.

    • It looks a lot different from when you were there last time.

  12. Debra
    Another wonderful post. We spend about 3 months every year at Granaiola. i saw you on your balcony at Ponte 2 days ago and went along to call out to you but you had gone inside. I just thought , ah well another time but I may miss you again Next time I’ll ring the bell.

    • Please do that. I will be in Ponte in September and again next spring.

  13. Did Filippo and Ugo make the sign for their well done stone wall wall?

    I can’t believe so much time has gone by since you were able to come back to Australia.

    • I painted a temporary one. I didn’t have time to order a marble one. I will do it in September.
      I find it difficult to believe I haven’t been home in ages. It will be a bit strange for a while I think.

  14. I am a “silent” reader and haven’t posted before ! Initially I assumed you were going home to Aus permanently and was going to ask if you would keep posting about your life there ! But now I see that you are just going for an extended break !
    I love some of your English style country garden planting. There is a lot of hard hard work in those photos.
    We are here at our 2nd home in Italy and due “home” home next week. We, and our beautiful Cocker Spaniel, miss our garden there. Safe travels and thank you for all your blogs !

    • Thank you for comenting! Gardens are hard work, but so worth it. I love seeing things appear in spring, especially things I have forgotten about.
      I will be posting from Australia. I have some plans for travel there too.

  15. It has been so wonderful to watch the evolution of this garden. The weeping cherry! Oh my goodness. And the walls are just so perfect. I wish I had a Filippo in my life. I hope you adjust to life back home. The ocean is still warm enough for swimming. Xxxxx p

    • I am looking forward to that first dive into the surf…Noosa here I come!

  16. I understand the pull of “home.” We left nine grandchildren for our life in Italy. It isn’t easy but we had to do something for ourselves for a change. Your garden is lovely. Hope we can meet one day when you return.

    • I will be back in lovely Italy sometime in September…coffee in Lucca.

  17. Such a very beautiful garden and house. I love ❤️ it.

    • Thank you! Our garden delights us and it continues to evolve.

  18. I have have only resently been a fan, since we visited the area in 2019, it was such a pleasure seeing your pics thank you

    • Thank you! It is a stunning area. I never grow tired of the views.

  19. Stunning… how blessed to be able to go between two beautiful countries.

    • Exactly! I love my life in both places.

  20. We just returned from our short stay I. Bagni di Lucca. We have spent two summers there in ‘14 and ‘18. We loved it and needed to spend more time there and eat in our favorite restaurants…Pian di fiume and Cavallino Bianco in Benabbio. After a visit in Rome with family, we are spending a night in Caserta before heading to our rental near Ostuni until the middle of August.
    Did you plant the flowers on the bridge? Do you still have your other home by Ponte a Serraglio?
    We looked for at Caffè Italia hoping to see you.
    Your flowers and garden are magnificent. Have a safe trip back home and return re energized.

    • We still have our apartment in Ponte and I still plant the flowers on the bridge. I think of the bridge as my front yard. Friends water them when I am away.
      We divide our time between the 2 places and like both equally. I know I will miss Italy and will be happy to return in September.
      Enjoy Ostuni!

  21. The garden is truly stunning and uplifting . Safe travels .

    • Thank you. I am home in Australia now ready to enjoy different things.

  22. Wow, those walls are great! I have serious garden envy. Safe travels back to Oz, and I hope you thoroughly enjoy being there (finally!) again.

    • I am home now, it is nice to be back for a while. We are delighted with the new developments in the garden.

  23. I am just speechless. It is so stunning!

    • You need to come back and see it again.

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