Lake Como – Villas on the Lake

Did you know Lake Como is only about an hour’s ride from Milan? There are numerous grand villas that line Lake Como.  Taking the slow ferry gives you a glimpse at a few!

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Villa on the lake
Lake Como villa
This screams Italy to me!

Villa Balbianello in Lenno is one of the most scenic residences on the lake and is famous for its terraced gardens.  It was originally built for Cardinal Angelo Durini and sits high up on a hill overlooking Bellagio and the lake. The Loggia Durini is a popular wedding venue. This location has made its way into a variety of movies like Casino Royale and Star Wars II: Attack of the Clones.

Villa Balbianello, Lenno
Lenno
Loggia Durini

Grand Hotel Tremezzo besides being a magnificent hotel has a floating pool! This historic property was recently renovated and very popular on the Lake. Enjoy the restaurants or the spa.  Terrace dining has you looking over to Bellagio. While here be sure to stop next door and visit Villa Carlotta. Built in 1690 it features a lovely Italian garden. Again, if you are taking the ferry to Bellagio or Varenna you can hop off in Tremezzo to visit here.

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Grand Hotel Tremezzo, floating pool

Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni is another lovely spot to stay, just lunch or grab a drink. The Villa was built back in the 15th century. The park is not part of the property and the Gardens at Villa Melzi are time better spent.

Villa Serbelloni

Villa D’Este originally had a female convent on this site but it was later demolished to make way for a private residence.  It too has beautiful gardens.  In 1873 it was converted into a hotel and it has seen the likes of many celebs!

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Villa D’Este in Cernobbia

Did you miss the beginning of this series on Lake Como? Here is a link to Part One- Lago di Como – a series

Lake Como – Bellagio – Villa Melzi

If you visit Bellagio be sure not to miss the famous gardens of Villa Melzi. The gardens are open to the public but the 19th century neoclassical villa is not. It is said these gardens were a favorite spot for Franz Lizst, the famous composer and pianist and quite possibly where he wrote one of his most famous pieces, ‘Dante Symphony’. This Villa was built to be the summer residence of Francesco Melzi d’Eril, one of Napoleon’s men.

As you enter you come upon this serene Japanese inspired garden and the Grotto.

Villa Melzi pond
Japanese Maples

Next you encounter the Moorish Pavilion with its sculptures and cypress trees. A pretty spot to rest a minute or just hop out of the sun. The views both north and south are lovely.

Bellagio Villa Melzi Moorish Pavilion
Villa Melzi Moorish Pavilion

Farther along towards the Villa is a lovely Plane (Plantanus x acerifolia) tree lined path with modern benches. A quiet spot to enjoy the views of the lake and the towns across.

Villa Melzi Modern benches arch
Modern benches arch

Right in front of the Villa is the Terrace and Lake Landing. The columns frame the views toward the Swiss Alps.

Villa Melzi
Terrace and Lake Landing looking towards Switzerland

As you wind your way around you link back to the beginning via a series of paths lined with specimen trees and statues.

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Ready for more Lake Como?

Bellagio- the “pearl” of Lake Como

This lovely village on Lake Como is known for its steep, narrow, stair lined cobbled streets with insane views of the lake. It is one of the most popular stops for tourists visiting the area along with the towns of Varenna and Como.

Bellagio is located at the junction where the “Y” shaped lake divides into two branches. Take it slow, walk around the lanes, stop for a spritz, check out the shops. Don’t miss Villa Melzi gardens or Villa Serbelloni or just walk out of town and explore. Be prepared though!!!! We did this and GPS didn’t work to well to get back into town and we really walked and walked and walked!  Dead end after dead end.

Bellagio road to Villa Melzi

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The old town center faces the west branch of the lake and is lined with cafes and shops at one end is Villa Serbelloni.

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Villa Serbelloni

Warning!!! Wear comfortable shoes as there are lots of stairs to access the higher part of the town.

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In the center of town you’ll find Piazza della Chiesa and the bell tower of the Basilica of San Giacomo, a Romanesque church that can be seen from everywhere.

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Harbor and Bell Tower from Villa Melzi

Even if you aren’t staying overnight you can have a very special lunch at many hotels.  We walked out of town and stopped in at Hotel Belvedere with breathtaking views of the east branch. Lunch was incredible!!!! Hotel Belvedere overlooks the eastern branch of Lake Como and the views here are towards Lierna to the south and towards Fiumellate to its north. Either the dining room or the adjacent patio provide breathtaking views. Hard to believe we had the patio to ourselves while a few guests enjoyed the pool and sun deck. Many hotels welcome non-guests for meals. It is a way I have found to experience a locale I might not be able to afford. Also I don’t know about you but I hate hotel hopping! This kills two birds with one stone!

We took a day trip from Como via the ferries that run daily from Como.  Bellagio is an easy day trip.  The slow ferry takes 2 hours and makes multiple stops along the way and you can hop on and off to explore. There is also a fast ferry.  We took the fast ferry back to Como late afternoon. Get to the docks early and make sure you are at the right one!!! Just sayin’! You might want to stop in Tremezzo to see Villa Carlotta or in Lenno to visit Villa Balbianello. There are many small lovely towns to explore.

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Studio Tecnico Architetto Stefano Catti
Studio Tecnico Architetto Stefano Catti

While in Como check out the silk! Como is one of the best places to buy silk in all of Europe!

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In upcoming blogs I will show you some other sights like Villa Melzi’s gardens and Villa Balbianello.

Did you miss the last 5 blogs on Lake Como? Here is a link to Lago di Como – a series, part One

Lago di Como, a series, part 5

There are so many things and places to experience on Lake Como that I could go on and on! Here are a few more sites from the city of Como located only an hour by train from Milan and perfect spot to call home base for visiting the lake.

 

 

Did you miss Lago di Como, part 4  

Lago di Como – Part 3; Lago di Como – Part 2 Brunate; Lago di Como – a series

Time to Order those Bulbs!

Okay I know you are thinking: WHAT!!! It’s still summer, but in many parts of the country bulbs go in the garden in the fall from late September until frost so start perusing those catalogs now and get your orders in.  If you have favorites, you’ll want to order them quickly in case those special bulbs get sold out!

If you are on Instagram you can’t miss all those lovely photos of fields upon fields of tulips just waiting to be sent to us 🙂

Here are just a few varieties and collections for you to consider when planning your spring garden.  Combine Daffodils, Muscari, Alliums, Hyacinths, Tulips, and Camassia for a long lasting display!

Moris Gudanov
COLORBLENDS- Moris Gudanov Tulip
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Allium Globemaster- my all time favorite!

 

Bulb Sources: COLORBLENDS     Old House Gardens   

White Flower Farm     John Scheepers

Daylilies – my secret passion “besides travel!”

Day Lily is just what it means! A new bud opens and then closes every day.  There are daylilies that start early in the summer and others that open later so it is completely possible to have daylilies for months! They are reliable, simple to grow, require no fuss and I have to say a favorite of deer in some yards, thankfully not mine!  I have had some deer damage this year but for the most part they have left them alone.

Daylilies are good companions to many perennials like Shasta daisies, Black-eyed susans, Phlox, Coneflowers, Liatris, Russian Sage, Bee Balm, Grasses, Catmint, Shrubs and annuals.

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Magenta Princess

Daylilies are great flowers for beginner gardeners as they are not fussy plants in any way! There are literally thousands of varieties in every color and form. The actual name for a daylily is Hemerocallis from the Greek words day and beauty. As I mentioned blooms last only one day but each scape has multiple buds!

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Passion’s Lunar Eclipse
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Sweet Aubergine
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Primal Scream
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Punk

 

 

If you are truly devoted you might consider becoming a member of The American Hemerocallis Society (AHS)  They recognize seven main daylily types, including singles, doubles, spiders, sculpted, minis, multiform and others.  New varieties are being hybridized daily by hundreds of gardeners who are truly passionate. There are nearly 90,000 varieties registered with The AHS.

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Olallie George Darrow
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Elmer Anderson
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Olallie Ethel Peters

 

 

 

Many gardeners start out as casual lovers but quickly get consumed with this lovely plant. Most can be grown in Zones 3 through 9 and vary in height, bloom size and basically prefer sunny locations.

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Olallie Perky Purple
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Pride of Wells

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A great benefit is that if you want more you can divide the clumps every 3-4 years either when they first come up or after bloom is finished.

Have fun and trade with friends! There are many daylilies to try beyond the reblooming daylily- ‘Stella de Oro‘ seen everywhere.

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Pardon Me -A great reblomming Red!

Day tripping in CT at Lavender Pond Farm

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In their effort to make the world a more beautiful place the owners of Lavender Pond Farm have created a little slice of heaven right here in Connecticut on 25 acres now filled with all sorts of lavender varieties.

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Located in Killingworth, CT the Farm caters to lavender and garden lovers alike.  Lavender typically blooms from June into August but can last later depending on the weather.  With almost 10,000 plants in the fields there are 12 varieties including: Grosso, Munstead, Edelweiss, Hidcote Giant and Provence.

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Children old and young enjoy walking thru the fields, taking their family photos and just enjoying the outdoors. Check out the Rooster and his harem or play some chess on the life size board.

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To help with the necessary pollination they have honey bees which play an important role.

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Honey bees hard at work!

Recently they built an authentic covered bridge on the property and there is a lovely gazebo to sit and just surround yourself in this sea of lavender! Stay tuned as they are planning to open a bed and breakfast!

Want to take some home? No problem, they sell lavender plants and a variety of lavender based products in their on-site shop, including sachets, soaps, scrubs, linen sprays, oils and lavender lemonade to name a few.

 

BUTTONWOOD FARM – SUNFLOWERS FOR WISHES

The Annual Sunflowers for Wishes is taking place this now! – This is a blog I wrote several years ago on this wonderful place supporting a wonderful cause.  Enjoy it again!

The event runs from July 21 – 229, 2018 this year and Buttonwood Farm is located at 473 Shetucket Turnpike in Griswold, CT.

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The fields stretch forever

Bring your kids or just the kid in you as there are hayrides, and a cow train ride, sunflowers for sale and cows to check out! The hayride and cow train rides run throughout the day and are about 25 minutes long going first through the cow pasture and ends up going through the sunflower field.  All proceeds from the rides go directly to Make-A-Wish! Since 2004 they have been able to raise a total of over $930,000.  This year will push them over the $1 Million mark!

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Happy Trio
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Reaching higher and higher

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Looking up

Sunflowers are available on a first come first serve basis.  Bouquets are $10 for a bouquet of five sunflowers.  Again, all proceeds from the sunflowers as well as T-Shirts and notecards which are for sale all go directly to Make-A-Wish!

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Close up before the birds east the seeds or the cows are let into the fields
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Not yet ready to party
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Just opening

 

Go Enjoy and support this great effort to support Make-A-Wish!

The Magic of Georgia O’Keeffe @ NYBG

The New York Botanical Garden was founded in 1891 and is a National Historic Landmark world renown for its plant research and conservation programs.

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Georgia O’Keeffe was an American artist known mostly for her paintings of oversized flowers from New Mexico and Hawaii.  She achieved worldwide acclaim for her innovative impressionist images.  She is widely considered the “Mother of American Modernism”.  Known for her paintings of Oriental Poppies, Cow’s Skull, Heliconia to name a few.

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Start your visit in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory:

Enid Haupt Conservatory

 

The Visions of Hawai’i exhibit reflects her depiction of the Islands of Hawaii while on commission for the Dole Pineapple Company in 1939 for their promotional campaign. Her works are a study in understanding the natural environment of the islands.

The exhibit highlights the flora of Hawaii both inside the Conservatory and outside in the Garden showcasing the flowers and fruit of Hawaii like pineapple, papaya and bananas. There are more than 300 varieties of plants including ti plants, frangipani, bougainvillea, heliconia, hibiscus, bird-of-paradise, ginger and other tropicals.

Hibiscus
Hibiscus
Red Ginger
Red-Ginger Alpina purpurata

In the Conservatory courtyard pool you will find aquatic plants like Water lilies and Lotuses.  The Lotus is a sacred plant symbolizing eternal life in Buddhism. Chose your color! You will see the lilies and lotus in yellow, pink, purple, and blue. Pineapple plants surround the pool.

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Lotus ‘Perry’s Giant Sunburst’

Water lily

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There is also an incredible collection of 17 paintings in the Mertz Library Gallery not seen together since 1940 highlighting the influence of Hawaii’s dramatic landscapes and exotic plants. The exhibit includes Heliconia, Crab’s Claw Ginger, Pineapple Bud, and Hibiscus with Plumeria to name a few. There is a short film featuring letters to her famous husband who was a photographer, Alfred Stieglitz. NO FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY ALLOWED! These are photos of her paintings only.

Native Plant Garden highlights plants native to the Northeast including trees, shrubs, wildflowers, ferns and grasses. The pool is fed by recycled stormwater as it flows over stone weirs.

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Rock Garden

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Rosen Seasonal Walk showcases perennials, grasses and bulbs highlighting their shape, structure and color throughout the season as emphasized by Dutch garden designer Piet Oudolf.

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Lily with Echinops

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Jane Watson Irwin Perennial Garden was just exploding with color and textures. The path winds through four themed garden rooms each with its own distinct personality. Here you will find daylilies, hydrangeas, black-eyed susans, nepeta, yarrow, begonias, caladiums, chives, salvia, crocosmia and amsonia to name just a few. Each garden room is devoted to a color scheme: The Fall Room: plants at their peak in autumn; the Bog Room: plants that love the moist and wet soil; the Hot Room: here bright flowers and foliage dominate like red, yellow and orange; and then the Cool Room: flowers and foliage in the silver, pink, blue and purple families.

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This garden changes seasonally so if you can try to visit during every season as you will never see the same exact landscape twice! I guarantee it!!!

 

 

 

 

 

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