Ingredients of a dreamy garden on Torcello

Torcello – once a thriving center in the lagoon, with more than 20,000 (!!) inhabitants and nine churches in the 11th century AD. Today, less than 20 people live here permanently.
Welcome to the giardini selvaggi of Torcello – dream-like gardens capturing the essence of fragrant spring flowers, from lilies and pittosporum to jasmine, oleanders, acacia and flowering herbs, tucked away against the backdrop of pale pink blossoming tamerix shrubs, pomegranate trees, cypresses, pines and magnolia. If you have ever been to Torcello, you might have been thinking: If only I had a garden like this at my home.  A house and garden tucked away into the many different shades of green…

Your first impression of a Torcello garden in May
This is the canal-side walk towards the center, with the two churches of Santa Maria dell’Assunta (built in 638 AD) and Santa Fosca. And to the left …
… you can see gardens hidden behind pittosporum walls …
… plus a few private homes and restaurants, whose gardens are worth discovering … and maybe copying at your home
… the gardens are interspersed with meadows, wild and neglected gardens, but also vegetable fields, where red poppies grow alongside many other edible herbs
And the good news is – you could create gardens that look very similar to these lush ones in Torcello, and here I would like to describe what you need to do that. Still, the Veneto is not so very much south of the Alps, many plants growing here in the lagoon can be used in gardens in northern climates. Other plants, as they are not hardy, you would have to grow in pots and take into the house or winter garden during the cold season. And now take a look at what a typical Torcello garden looks like.
Pittiosporum, tamerix trees, oleanders, magnolia, pomegranate trees, stone lions guard the house and garden, perched upon red brick walls. The wooden garden door is painted dark green.
This overgrown garden has great potential …
The first house you encounter, you can see it in the two pictures above, is located just before one arrives at Ristorante Al Trono di Attila, I have always called it the “Enchanted house”. Looking like a breed between a cottage garden house and a Venetian palazzo, painted in rosso veneziano (see my blog post about this particular color), there is an overgrown garden where pittosporum, vines, oleander and pomegranate trees abound.
Another green-painted entrance, wild roses, red fragrant roses, olive trees, vines, oleanders, wisteria, and the typical lily flower beds below the pittosporum shrub – see below
Another glimpse into these gardens lining the road towards the two churches in Torcello, oozing peace and quiet. You can see a yucca planted in a round flower bed framed in by red bricks, simply tucked half-way into the ground
Another glimpse: fig trees, roses, pittosporum, pomegranate trees

The other gardens look like the ones in the last few pictures you have seen above. To me, the essence of a flower garden in Torcello is flower beds framed in with bricks or stones, where herbs like chamomile, laurel or mint are planted, or succulents like agaves and yucca. Pomegranate trees frame the entrance, jasmin, pittosporum, wisteria, a lot of roses and oleanders and blue lilies as well as lilies of the valley, hide in a wet corner amongst the high grass. This selection of plants in my mind represents the flower essence of Torcello – if I had to create a perfume capturing the fragrance of Torcello in spring, this is where I would choose the ingredients from … 

Blue lilies, hydrangea, palm trees, lavender, daisies dotting the lawns
A sunny spot where chamomile blossoms grow next to lilies and pink flower carpets
Natural stone terraces frame in the flower beds …
Cypress trees, pines and pomegranate trees, alongside with cherry and apple trees
You arrive at the island of Torcello on the ACTV vaporetto leaving from Fondamenta Nuove where you have to change at Burano if you want to procede to Torcello. Or, if you would like to take a tour of the lagoon, you could also opt for a guided boat tour organized by Alilaguna (Linea Verde) which takes you to Murano and Burano before you visit Torcello. It takes about an hour to reach Torcello from Venezia Fondamenta Nove.

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