Dispatches from Italy: Spectacle and magic in the gardens of Verona

Written by Doug Oster on .

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Sometimes the stars align to make a garden visit magical, that’s what happened at Giardino Giusti in Verona. The spectacular views standing on top of the towering "Mascherone" were sweetened by songbirds hidden in the spires of cypress trees. At noon, the city’s church bells sang in concert with the birds creating a natural symphony performance. Just when I thought it couldn't get any better, the uplifting music of a piano accompanying ballet dancers drifted out of the windows of an adjoining school as I worked my way downhill on a winding stone path.

blog mascheroneThe Mascherone -- This is the first thing you see in the distance when entering the garden. Should it breath fire?What’s a "Mascherone" you ask? It’s the first thing you see when walking in the garden and was built to emit tongues of flame from its mouth.

Giardino Giusti was the first major garden we’ve seen since getting to Italy and it’s simply spectacular.

The cypress trees reach for the sky creating axis points for long paths which are bordered with perfectly trimmed shrubs. There are mazes and topiary, everything an Italian garden should have.

Even though most of the garden is perfectly formal, one of the things that makes it so wonderful are the edges, which are whimsically planted with an assortment of innovative and fun combinations.

Ordinary orange lantana is allowed to intermingle with tall, stoic anemone with tasteful results.

Soft pink begonias are permitted to go wild along an ancient rock wall.

The hillsides are filled with drifts of blue plumbago which were constantly being visited by several hummingbird moths. Even though we only had an hour to explore the garden, it was imperative to watch the moths work their magic searching for nectar.

One of the things many European gardeners embrace is to let beautiful weeds bloom freely too, it's something I admire. The tiny flowers of wild, yellow mustard were the perfect foil for the blue blossoms of the plumbago.

Only in Italy would you see a long line of clay pots filled with lantana perched single file along a weathered rock wall. The display drew visitors to it and made gardeners smile.

In many ways, this was the perfect Italian garden, mixing formality with chaos and doing it with a sense of humor.


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Above: Italian gardens are filled with the most interesting details made from stone.

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There are many stunning views from the top of the garden.

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These pink begonias are allowed to go wild along a rock wall.

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The formality of the garden in the center works perfectly here.

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Walk up to the top of the garden to be rewarded with a beautiful view of Verona

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Common lantana is allowed to intermingle with beautiful, tall anemone.

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Only in Italy would you see something like this and it makes me smile.

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Climb to the top of the "Mascherone" for an amazing view of the garden and Verona.

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Wild yellow mustard is set off by blue plumbago.

(Top image: The beauty of a formal Italian garden is unmatched. Doug Oster photos/Post-Gazette)


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