Gardenproud Blog

The Italian Connection – George Sykes


George is a determined chap, he boldly claims his plan is to take over Gardenproud! Which probably means I’d better watch my back and mind my P’s and Q’s if I’m ever to enjoy my retirement!!!!

He’s currently at Hadlow College studying Horticulture, about to embark on his second year.

One day a week he works for Gardenproud learning from the ground up the skills he’ll need to work with our team of gardeners. Every weekend he’s also been working for a local nursery, so he’s also been brushing up on his plant ident and customer skills.

Most recently George along with a number of other students were treated to a trip to Rome to be inspired by the sights and visit a number of the most famous Italian gardens.

Italianate Gardens are a personal passion, in fact I’ve been involved with one particular UK garden that is currently undergoing a renaissance.

This is also a passion of BBC Presenter Monty Don.

Thanks to my sister I’ve just been bought his book “ Great Gardens of Italy” – published by Quadrille as a birthday present. I can thoroughly recommend it.

Anyway turning back to George. He found the trip to Italy fascinating and was particularly struck by the structure and architecture of many gardens.

His favourite gardens were Villa d’Este, Villa Lante, and Sacro Bosco.

“ Villa d’Este is really impressive, of particular interest are the many fountains and pools fed entirely by the gravity water system,” comments George.

So you can see from his response immediately that the guy is into hard landscaping!

This is so true to form. I can remember vividly that George as a 4 year old would as his favourite past-time dig trenches in our garden in Essex and lay land drains!

The gardens at Villa d’Este, based in the town of Tivoli, were created in the 16th Century. Originally conceived by Architect Pirro Ligorio the design on the face of it is comparatively simple with a central pathway leading past a series of fountains, with steep steps leading you through a number of diversions. “Like a kind of horticultural fairground made of stone.”

The money that must have been thrown at these projects was incredible.

Villa d’Este, is a masterpiece, it is included in the UNESCO world heritage list. Its impressive concentration of fountains, nymphs, grottoes, water features, and music. A much-copied model for European gardens in the mannerist and baroque styles.

Outside of gardening George is like most other teenagers, he’s out till the early hours, never seems to have any money, and never answers his phone to his parents!

Favourite  Plants: Dogwood, Bleeding Heart

Gardening Dislikes: The early start

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