Sitting on the bus to Padova, passing the hedgerows filled with White Lilac and Elder flower, I hoped that someone was out gathering the blossoms for Elder flower vinegar, champagne or cordial or Lilac Wine perhaps. The countryside dotted with old villas; some restored others in a state of dilapidation, small tended gardens others unkempt, the wonderful colour of the houses and unusual plants made a long journey enjoyable. Where else would you see Renaissance statues peering out, like long forgotten guests, from the overgrown hedgerows? The season was well advanced with fruit already beginning to set. Walking round the herb garden it was amazing to see the same plants grown twice the size that I can achieve here but ordinary plants, such as Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) and Plantain (Plantago lanceolata) struggling in the dry heat! Goethe’s palm planted in 1585 still stands in the garden along with a beautiful aged Ginkgo planted in 1750. Mine has a long way to go!

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