Posted by: Debra Kolkka | May 17, 2023

Goodbye Casa Debbio until autumn

Our guest arrives at Casa Debbio soon for her 3 month stay. It is difficult to say goodbye to the garden but I know it will be OK in Filippo’s capable hands. I will be back in autumn to see how it has survived the summer.

This spring has not been kind to the garden. It has been cooler than usual after a warm start. At least we have had good rain after the last 2 years of drought. Most of my peonies are still to bloom. The ones that have opened have been attacked by bugs. I hope they all survive.

Here is what has been happening in the garden this spring.

These were the last daffodils to come up.

Daffodils offer some great colour in early spring.

The weeping cherry tree was pink for a couple of weeks.

Hellebores have been excellent this year. They are spreading under the chestnut trees and a cherry tree.

Tree peonies bloom in early spring.

The herbaceous peonies are just beginning to open now.

These are the bugs that are ruining my peonies. They are around every year, but this year there are huge numbers of them. The burrow into some of the buds and destroy them before they are open. In others they attack as soon as the flower is open and ruin them within a day or two. Other flowers are left completely alone. I hate the miserable little critters!

Our dry stone wall that was built last year is coming to life. Some plants, mostly alyssum, have come back. I think it will look good when we get some warm weather.


Wisteria bloomed and began to fade.


We have artichokes this year.

Acanthus flowers are popping up.

The low plant at the back of the house is thriving, along with the aquilegias mixed in with it.

Lavender flowers are poking up.

Little clumps of wild flowers grow on the old walls and the side of the hills.

An iris I planted a while ago shot up beside a tree peony. It is about a metre tall.

There will be figs this summer.


…and mulberries. We also have apples, pears, quince, pomegranate, persimmons, olives, cherries, almonds, plums, raspberries (deer have  just eaten the tops off the plants) a blueberry plant, gooseberry, kiwi, tomatoes and wild walnut, hazelnut and chestnut trees.

We have planted the old bed on one of the terraces above the house with vinca ((periwinkles). It doesn’t look much now, but when it grows we should have a green cover with blue flowers like what is growing under trees on the edge of the property.

I am also digging up bits of vinca and planting them in gaps in the gardens on the side of some of the terraces.

We are trying to get grass to grow on the driveway up to the house and on a terrace below with some success.

These are the last photos I took before leaving the house.

People ask how I can leave the garden when it is looking its best, but for me the fun is watching it come to life after winter. I like to get it to this stage and let someone else enjoy it.  I know it will be looked after and I will get to see it all again in autumn and see which plantings have been successful. Autumn is also a lovely time in the garden with falling leaves and fading plants.



  1. WoW everything looks so beautiful- you have done such an amazing job! What a lucky lady to be staying there for 3 months

    • The garden is a work in progress. We started from scratch. The whole property was covered with brambles. It gets better every year.

  2. Incredible beauty…..definitely magazine worthy… spring for sure I want to see first hand again.

    • I look foreword to giving you a garden tour.

  3. OH dear I felt so sad to see you are leaving your beautiful garden so soon. Gardens do break your heart sometimes when waiting to see it blooming & then lousy critters attack it. Plus some years are just wanting more (or less) rain. You are lucky to have Fillipo keeping it good to welcome you back.

    • It is sad to leave. I love seeing how it blooms every spring. We have an array of animals who like to eat and destroy the garden and I accept a certain amount of damage every year, but it is disappointing.

  4. Just the best pictures ever! You have a great knack for where to put things!

    • Thank you. It is trial and error. Trying to select plants the animals don’t eat is interesting. They don’t like peonies, lavender, rosemary and wisteria, although one year something decided wisteria was worth a try.

  5. What a magnificent garden you have Deb. I do hope I get to experience it one day soon.

    • I marvel at how the garden has turned out. I love to walk around in the morning to see the changes. It is amazing how quickly things grow when spring comes.

  6. Love when we see Casa Debbio in firstly her spring dress and now her gorgeous early summer floral dress. The lady who comes to stay will love and enjoy it too . This garden is a credit to both you and Fillipo. Keep on having fun in BDL 🇮🇹

    • This year, despite the crummy weather, the garden is looking good. I was happy to hand it over to our guest, she loves it too. She comes every year, but this is the first time she has come in spring.

  7. Looks pretty awesome to me – it’s gorgeous

    • Despite the weather and the destructive animals it puts on a good show. I love it.

  8. Your garden still looks beautiful after weather inclemencies, bugs, and other assailants.
    Have a safe trip back home.

    • The garden gets better every year, despite setbacks because of the weather.

  9. Love the green glass bottle at the base of the weeping cherry tree, the wisteria, the peonies, and daffodils. Lovely details everywhere. Nature is heartbreaking in its beauty. Thanks, Debra!

    • It has been fun, and hard work, to make this garden. The property was covered with brambles when we started. We are now at the stage where it should be just maintenance with just a few adjustments each season.

  10. Great photos of an artistically designed garden. Looking forward to your return!

    • I am still in Ponte a Serraglio for a couple of weeks. I have the summer flowers to plant on the bridge soon.

  11. Your beautiful peonies have inspired me to finally plant some.

    • Excellent! Despite looking fragile, they are quite easy to look after. I hope the bugs don’t come back next spring.

  12. It’s sensational Deb, will be hard to leave one day

  13. With the low cloud and mist it looks enchanted

  14. Sigh… your garden is an absolute dream! It has really developed and matured so beautifully! 🙂

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