After Eight

I don’t know wheter ‘After Eight’ still exist or not, they are fine black chocolate with a mint cream inside, I used to eat a lot of that supergood stuff when I was a teenager (teenagers always find the way to feed their pimples…) but this post (unfortunately) is not about chocolate, I took all the pictures in the evening, just before the sun set, after 8 pm indeed.

A very big poplar in the neighbor’s field casts its shadow over the grass garden from late afternoon. The bench by the pool becomes a very refreshing spot and colours and shapes of the perennials and the grasses can be appreciated. I wish the grass garden could have been backlit at sunset but you can’t have anything perfect in this World, can you? (that stuff splattered over the gravel is Tigre, and yes: she’s still alive).

We are having a very hot and dry summer this year, even dryer than last year, I’d say. I wonder how the plants are holding up this drought and heat, there are deep cracks in the ground and as soon as I water some plant, moles arrive from anywhere and dig the soil like Swiss cheese.

I’ve also painted white an old bench. I still bother about the colour, maybe I should have picked a sage green or a dusty light blue but I had white paint at home, so there weren’t a lot of choices really… I am pleased with the place where I positioned the bench by the way. A little shady in the afternoon, thanks to the birch and it gives me a brand new point of view of the house and gardens.

The veggie garden is holding up too, yet I am watering it almost every day since I’ve lost all my salads (they grow and flower all in a few days and leaves are no good to eat). Tomatoes are producing like mad, I have cherry tomatoes, pachino tomatoes (they are little but pear shaped and sweeter than cherry tomatoes) and rame tomatoes, the bigger ones. I even tried and made sauce out of them. I’m no good in doing such things, normally I pick them up and bring them to mum’s. After a while I go back and find tasty canned tomato sauce ready to use, why bother then? Anyway the sauce was nice and tasty and the kitchen… well it seems I have another room to paint. Again.

Aubergines are doing surprisingly well too, and my chilies are full of hot fruits, ready to be dried and stored. As you may know this is my first real experience with a vegetable garden but I’m quite pleased with it and I think it could be addictive: I want more salads, more vegetables, more stuff to grow. At the end of the day a vegetable garden is not that different from a perennial garden: you nurture plants, see them grow, water them, you check for pests and diseases, you hope them to flower and fruit (unless they are salads!). I guess I should not grow summer salads here, it’s too hot and dry. I should grow only spring salads and fall salads (like chicory and escarole). Well: you live, you learn. I should post some more detailed pictures of the veggie garden maybe in a few days. There are also great news to come soon… they are now building the pergola on the gravel garden (just out of the kitchen door). It looks exactly as I wanted and I’m thrilled. Pictures in the next post.

Meanwhile if you wanted some shocking news here we are:

Oh yes, bitchy Mina is pregnant. Oh yes, again. Oh yes, honey, get ready to say goodbye to your fallopian tubes or whatever they’ll take you away or knot or sew (ok, I don’t know how it works). Her belly is not as big as the other time though, I hope there’s only one or two puppies this time. I know what you are thinking: I should have watched more carefully over her, but in this house we believe in freedom and self control. Now we firmly believe in castration too.

I’ll leave you folks with a picture of the closest thing we had to rain:


52 thoughts on “After Eight

  1. OH no again….Mina just is not practicing safe sex….I love the old bench and all the gardens…lovely in the setting sunlight. Your flowers are beautiful in the dry weather…mine are not so much as I did not water them…but my veg garden is also producing…you are right Alberto, it is addicting growing veggies! Your view of rain has been mine until just last week…but we continue to need more as the ground is still cracked even with rain.

    • I bet I am lucky I have heavy soil that retains damp in the deep. But it’s not going to last forever… Mina could have all the unsafe sex she wants, after castration.

  2. Your gardens look wonderful especially considering the dry weather. I especially like the verbena and hollyhocks ,,, I don’t grow hollyhocks anymore because of rust. I’m also finding this to be a good year for tomatoes.

    • Hi Jason, althalcea Park Allee is a perennial cross between a lavatera and a hollyhock or something like that. It’s very drought tolerant and very disease free, flowers are smaller than hollyhocks but equally beautiful I think. You should try it. My dad is not growing good tomatoes this year, they make a black rotten ring at the base of the plant and die. Where he lives it rains almost every day though…

  3. Yes, Alberto, After eight chocs do still exist, still enjoy them, but not as often these days! Love the photo of your garden in the evening light, quite magical. Every garden needs a bench and yours is in a lovely spot to survey the garden, make sure you use it, most gardeners are usually too busy! As for Mina, what can one say, except you are doing the right thing!!

    • It was easier to watch over her in my previous small and fenced garden. Here it is almost impossible, especially in summer with all the doors left open… You are quite right I seldom use that bench… And the other one by the pool… I use to sit there in the night, with a cold bottle of beer, waiting for some refreshment. And sleep.

  4. Alberto, your garden is looking amazing. I am kinda wishing for clay soil (no, not really); but here it has been so, so hot (42°C at 10am today) and very windy; I only venture out very late to see what has died! Christina

    • Hahaha not really… I guess every soil has its bad and good sides. It is very windy (Bora) here as well, which is even worse than heat. We didn’t reach 42 degrees here, thanks God.

  5. Alberto, these photos are lovely…your garden is beautiful! Here in northern Michigan, USA, we are having a very hot, dry summer, too. Tomatoes, peppers and eggplant thrive in the heat, though, as you say. I’ve had luck putting a shade covering over my salad greens, to extend their season a little bit. Just a length of cheesecloth, knotted over bamboo stakes and suspended over the bed works quite well. Thanks for sharing your garden pictures!

    • Hi Cindy! At my dad’s eggplant never produced more than a couple of fruit per plant, so he doesn’t grow them anymore. He lives 180km away from me, but climate there is so different from here. That’s why I’ve been surprised when I saw a lot of aubergines hanging amongst the leaves and flowers.

  6. Your garden is beautiful, in the evening and in its prime. Your newly painted bench inspires me– I have one that needs paint –and you know how I have come to feel about painting–but perhaps I shall paint it, in solidarity with you and your bench.

    Don’t be too upset with Mina but it’s well you plan to save her from herself in the future.

    I need your mother’s email so I can tell her to quit spoiling you with her cooking.

    • And who is gonna save me from myself?! Tell me the truth, you want to call my mum and ask her to send some food over… Well I can understand, I bet Tillie doesn’t spoil you with her food…
      I know what is your position about painting but you should reconsider it. For your bench’s sake.

  7. Sorry to hear it’s been so dry there. But your garden is just gorgeous! I can just imagine sitting on the bench under the shade and admiring all the blooms. And your vegetable gardening looks like it’s been quite the success. Here, we only grow lettuces in the fall/early spring, it’s just too hot otherwise. Good decision on getting Mina ‘fixed’. So much easier than dealing with litters of puppies.

    • Oh my…fixed? I hope she won’t read this. 🙂
      Vegetable gardening is not that different from ‘normal’ gardening, and by the way I only choose easy stuff, that’s why I succeeded.

  8. più guardo le foto e più ho voglia di vedere tutto con gli occhietti miei!
    Ma quelle Alcalthee sono proprio belle, l’anno prossimo ne prenderò delle altre, se non riesco a propagarle da sola (per talea forse?)
    Se ho tradotto bene, quella Mina è un po’ scostumata, o sbaglio?

    • Ciao Ross! Si si hai tradotto bene: Mina è proprio una scostumata! Beh fammi sapere quando vuoi passare che ci organizziamo, mi farebbe molto piacere.
      Le alcalthee non producono semi, almeno non mi pare e per talea non ho mai provato ma magari a fine estate potrei fare un tentativo.

  9. You have created lovely vistas throughout. Despite the dry weather things look lush and views hold together well. I want to learn how to achieve that.

    • Thanks for your very kind comment, I wish I could give you some good piece of advice to improve but I have nothing smart to tell you, I’m sorry! 🙂 I like the way different beds in the garden combine together depending on the point of view. That’s something I didn’t plan at all…

  10. Hi Alberto,

    Mmmmmm, After Eight…. Tee hee. Generally only a Christmas treat in this house but still yummy regardless.

    Beautiful photos, you garden looks very tranquil and relaxing. I desperately need some shade here (well, that is when the sun shines!) because otherwise it’s just solid sun here until early evening when the hedge finally casts shadow.

    I hope you get rain soon, and I don’t envy your very hot and dry summer; although I do envy the sun you’ve had! I’m hoping our nice weather continues a little longer… They keep promising rain but so far nothing. Although I don’t doubt them when they say tomorrow will be solid rain.

    Well, we had a week of sunshine so I suppose I can’t grumble 😦

    • Dear Liz, I desperately need some more shadow here as well, pictures has been taken in the evening, until 4 pm those benches are burning hot! Indeed I think I’ve never been so tanned like this year and I use high protection when I go outside. Dad told me he’s not so sure I’m his son anymore, he said I’m too brown…

      • Hi Alberto,
        Strangely enough I have a good tan this year too – a very obvious watch strap line on my wrist; even after our severe lack of sun! Although I imagine I am a ghost in comparison to you.
        I even compared my arms to my boyfriend and I’m browner than her is – he’s Portuguese so naturally olive toned 🙂
        Here I cannot sit outside anywhere from 11:30-4pm because it’s too hot and there’s no shade. And this really frustrates me because I hate sitting indoors when it’s nice!

  11. I’m pretty sure they still make After Eight’s! And what a great title for your post. The garden is looking splendid, regardless of rain. You have created such a beautiful space there. Just beautiful!

    • Thank you Claire. There’s a lot of work behind and a lot of work still to do but I’m starting to see some results and and I’m pretty happy with it.

  12. You really have a wonderful garden there. It looks great despite the drought. Here in Ireland there have been some sunny days but now back to grey and wet again. What a non-summer we are having. All my Lettuce is running to seed this year too. So frustrating!

    • Really?! So what do you think it makes salads so bad? I don’t think you had drought issues or that it was too hit, right? I’d need your expert advice on growing vegetables…

  13. It all looks amazing, Alberto and if this is your first attempt at veg growing, well – I doff my cap to you. If I wore one. In fact, I shall wear one just to doff it. A bunch of puppies playing through all that lovely planting. Bet you can’t wait. Dave

    • A bunch of devils pissing on my sofa, you mean? Yes I can’t wait.
      As for the cap… Your beloved Queen didn’t teach you anything?!
      Thanks for your comment.
      PS: I grew tomatoes in the past, along with perennials as summer filler and once I tried purple cabbages because I liked their colour, then I gave them away because I hate the taste.

  14. Late afternoon is just the best time to enjoy a garden! Your garden looks wonderful; one would not know your weather is hot and dry. I am looking forward to cooler weather here so I can plant salad greens and other veggies that don’t do well through our summer. Even our tomatoes have given up in the heat. Only the peppers love it.

    PS. I think your bench would be fabulous painted a dusty blue.

    • My peppers are producing only little fruits that drop in the ground half rotten (or roasted on the sun) I’m waiting for some cooler days to see if they are going to ripen some decent peppers or if I have to get rid of them. They drink like mad by the way. Fortunately Chili peppers are doing alright.

  15. I couldn’t agree more, Alberto! That point of early evening is so magical, truly my favorite time of day in the garden, especially once the grasses start blooming…it’s just gorgeous. Your garden is looking fab, as always…I want to sit in one of those benches for a while 🙂

  16. Hey Alberto!
    Bene mi butto a commentare il tuo blog, cosa che non faccio mai (ti avevo scritto 1 mail tempo fa …), ma eccomi qua, c’è sempre una prima volta in tutto no?ehe, cmq mi piace tanto come sta maturando il giardino, Bravo, le perenni con tutto sto caldo sono molto belle e vigorose…e poi anche l’orto, io non ho molto spazio, però un paio di pomodori non possono mancare, buoni e mi danno grande soddisfazione quando me li mangio mentre bagno il giardino…Ciaooo

    • Ciao Giacomo, lo so che mi avevi scritto, ho un periodo che son diventato un pochetto orso e non scrivo più a nessuno praticamente. Prometto che ti scriverò presto. I miei pomodori stanno forse già finendo il loro ciclo produttivo e mi spiace tantissimo. Il caldo li consuma!

  17. Yes, you still get after eights Alberto, but if you have an Asda store their own version of these chocs are even better and less than half the price, I can tell you all there is to know about mint chocs. Your garden is looking fabulous in spite of the dry conditions, even your white bench is looking good

    • Hi Alistair! I didn’t imagine you were so greedy about chocolate 🙂
      Growing up I lost interest in chocolate and sweets in general, I prefer a hundred times more bread and salami than chocolate.
      Still waiting for some rain here and apparently we have to wait until September to have some… So bad.

  18. Ciao Alberto.Siamo a non molti km di distanza ma cmq da te sembra ci sia stata qualche goccia in più di pioggia quest’anno!Lo interpreto daI campi di mais ancora verdi!Io non vedo pioggia da fine maggio,non ricordo nemmeno il rumore che ha, i temporali ci sono passati attorno! Mai visto un’estate così torrida! Mi chiedo le piante selvatiche come tollerino! Il futuro è sempre di più orientati verso piante poco igrofile!!
    Buona idea per Mina!Anche noi dopo la prima sorpresa l’abbiamo fatta operare! Anche perchè ci dicevano che la prima cucciolata di solito sono di 2 o 3, invece sono stati 6!!!
    Ora abbiamo un’altra cagnolina ma abbiamo già prenotato l’operazione in anticipo…troppe gite a le paradise des papillons di cagnolini maschietti!!

    • Hey ciao Michele! In effetti più mi sposto verso sud (anche qui a Venezia) e più i campi sono secchi e rovinati. Addirittura interi campi di soia rovinati. Qui abbiamo avuto un pioggerella a giugno e due gocce (contate!) a luglio. Speriamo che cambi il tempo…
      Devo trovare il tempo per guardarmi i tuoi ultimi post, sono in ferie e non trovo il tempo per fare niente!!! 🙂

  19. Your Garden is breathtaking! I hope we both get some rain…Texas is dry too. The bench is darling and has a great view. Every garden should have a bench or two. Ours is near the chicken coop so we can watch their antics. Your puppies are adorable, I’m a sucker for a cute dog.

    • Hi Rebecca! I’ve heard that you have whole countries under a drought spell in US. Probably a thousand size of Italy entirely without rain, I can’t imagine how catastrophic it should look, even for people and their economies. You better watch your chickens’ naughties and don’t think about anything else! 🙂
      Thanks for your comments about the bench!

    • Hahaha! They really look like fatty hula dancers, don’t they? Now all the echinaceas are burnt by the sun, I hope it rains a little so I can have some new growth and flowers by September…

  20. Alberto, I cannot begin to tell you how peaceful and beautiful I found your garden. That shaded bench looks perfect for a sunset rest and a refreshing cocktail or an After Eight mint. Congratulations on your new batch of grandchildren.

    • Hahaha thanks Kevin, I hope they are healthy as Mina seems to have some issues lately. Looking forward to see my grand-puppies though! No chocolate on the bench actually, only a lot of drinks at the moment…

  21. Hi Alberto. Late to your blog again, as usual….. Heat. Please send some over! It was 10 degrees today. I’m getting ever keener on the garden swap next year, I can tell you. Tomatoes? Outside? Don’t make me laugh….

    • Really you couldn’t have tomatoes outside this year? I think we had the hottest summer ever here… Let’s organize all the details for the house swap next year! I mean it!

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