Beyond high walls which conceal and embrace whatever is behind them from view, as if in a tight hug, are heaps of crawling weeds bursting out in every direction along dilapidated columns and over stone walls reduced to nothing but rubble.
Random plants crowded around in a boisterous fashion, somehow breaking the silence that hung in the air, hid the outlines of what was once a tree-lined road. Here, once upon a time, there must’ve been a series of quaint little walking paths spreading out along the ground, and there under the pergolas an intense aroma must’ve wafted through the air during coffee time, like illusive clouds of pleasure.
Then a long period of silence ensued, and a door which safeguarded the place’s charm remained locked, in a sort of magical oblivion. That is until the most recent owners, who decided to unlock the old lock, fuelled by their desire to restore the space to its ancient beauty, invited us to enter.
This project that Spezyale is working on, in a beautiful corner of Puglia, really does seem like “The Secret Garden”, the enchanted place depicted in Frances Hodgson Burnett’s novel
This is the site of a historic villa with its own garden preserved on the premises, dating back to the end of the nineteenth century, which waits only to be taken care of, with a touch of imagination, so it can return to being the pulsing heart of the estate.
Our work began with the study of the original spaces, in light of the fact that there was a desire for the “sentimental environment” to be restored; a place intended for people to stroll around in, to play games in and where they might enjoy moments of rest and relaxation, with the aim being to bring its ancient charm back to life again while having it dialogue with the needs of the new millennium all at the same time.
The work, which started at the beginning of September, requires that the columns and walls be removed temporarily, stone by stone, in order to consolidate the structure, only to have them be put back to their original position. Meanwhile, we retrace where the tree-lined roads intersect in order to map out their directions.
But the work that excites us most has to do with something else, with the old protagonists of the garden: the plants.
It is with their colours and their scents that we would like to write a new page of poetry for this place. Next to the monumental olive trees, flowerbeds separating walkways will spring forth, while new, climbing vines will grow to ensure pleasant shading for the days that get sweltering hot during the Apulian summer. Another pergola will be created with climbing lemons, a fragrant and highly suggestive essence of which we have already experienced its beauty in several of our other projects.
In the end, however, the new heart of the “secret garden” will be roses. We have found a large number of ancient and almost unknown species in Titti Giacovelli’s nursery which she cultivates with hand-crafted passion. She has chosen a few varieties of these to add to our garden, all strictly white. We like the idea of pure whiteness invading the space while contrasting with the iron trusses they will climb up, like natural brambles free to clamber towards the sky.
The garden project will end within a couple of months. After that, there is nothing we can do but wait for spring in order to see our work finally in bloom.