Donna Fenice - Gardens of Tuscany

February 23, 2015 Meeting

Meetings are held at the Bonar-Parkdale Presbyterian Church, 250 Dunn Avenue, just south of Queen Street West. Doors open at 6:30pm. Meetings start informally around 7:00pm and the meeting starts at 7:30pm. Arrive after 6:30pm and enjoy coffee and cookies while you check out the Hort library, chat, and ask questions!

Starting in Florence, Donna Fenice takes us on a journey to some of this enchanting region’s most beautiful public and private gardens—including the first Renaissance garden, winery gardens, a Pope’s garden, a walled Medieval garden and an ‘English’ garden in a once desolate corner of southern Tuscany. Buon viaggio!


The next stop on this year’s unofficial ‘international gardens tour’ themed presentations takes us to Tuscany with tour guide Donna Fenice. Ironically, Donna’s most recent garden touring abroad was to none other than the Loire Valley that last month’s speaker enlightened us about. But her presentation this month is in keeping with her unflappable love for Italy. A couple of years ago Donna introduced us to Northern Italy’s giardini; this month, her passion will transport us a little farther south.

Considered the birthplace of the Renaissance and known for its history of art and culture, Tuscany is also a romantic locale of undulating landscapes awash in rich hues of ochre; best to take in the scenery while sipping one of its famous wines on a villa terrace. So while Donna will yet again introduce us to the gardens of the region, much of the history of the place will come through in the gardens.

Donna admits to liking such a variety and number of gardens that it would be impossible to pinpoint a favourite; neither was it easy to put together the presentation because of the editing required to fit the time allotted. We can trust Donna to choose the cream of the crop and pique our interest about what she left out.

Many of Donna’s photos can be viewed on the blog she continues to maintain, found at https://lovingitalysgardens.wordpress.com. She also continues to guide tours at the TBG and, during the winter months, at Allan Gardens. But her blog and her reputation continue to keep her on her toes in developing new presentations. Recently she was invited to speak at the Rose Garden Society. This was rather a surprise to her, given that she does not identify herself as a ‘plant person’. But neither the Rose Garden Society nor our Hort really minds. Donna’s focus on the design, history, people, and social aspects of the gardens she brings to light are just as valuable as a list of plant material.

So as the winter months come to an end, the snow begins to clear, and ideas for this year’s garden are already well under development. Come out to the Monday, February 23rd meeting for a late winter gardening pick-me-up and get the planning juices flowing with luxurious visions of the gardens of Tuscany.

Maria Nunes

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