On Tuesday morning, our horticulture class took a trip to a local man’s garden and art studio. We were greeted by the man and his wife, who spoke a little about themselves and then showed us to his garden. We walked into his backyard to find rows and rows of different fruits, vegetables, and herbs. There were a variety of shapes and hues to the garden; some trees were tall and pale, while some plants were short and dark green. There were olive trees, been stalks, strawberries, grape vines, cherry trees, and many other varieties of vegetation. After touring his garden, we walked into his art studio, an adjacent building with an outdoor stair leading to a second floor. Here, we walked through two small rooms which were covered wall-to-wall with his original artwork. We also got to sit at his work tables and watch him paint a few instructional watercolors.
Historically, this experience felt very old. We’ve been learning in class about how old gardening is, and it was easy to see how this man’s garden could have been similar to one five hundred years prior. We also got to experience plant seasonality. When we arrived, the cherries had already been picked, the beans were ripe, and the grapes would have to wait until fall. Trellises were lined in rows to help facilitate maximum plant growth and development. We also got to experience some elements and principles of design firsthand. We watched our guide give us watercolor lessons, and the components of space, color, and proportion were integral to his painting style.
From the short time we spent in the garden and studio, it was easy to see that Italy and its natives are steeped in a culture that is very old, and being an artisan is part of that culture. This man, while tending his garden and being a professional painter, was a great steward of skill, patience, talent, and diligence.