Chiara Adele Balsari
Freelance, she has worked, with her mother architect Elena Balsari Berrone, for more than forty years, in Italy and abroad , for different types of landscape architecture: Urban development plans and green, Parks and Public Spaces, Private Parks and Gardens, Industrial areas, Offices, Historic gardens. In 2004 she was awarded with Torsanlorenzo accolade for Landscape Design and Protection.
Gertrude Jekyll is the one that inspired me the most (not an architect but a garden designer).
The garden where I spent my childhood: the garden in Ischia. My passion for all mediterranean gardens comes from that garden .
Garden on the lake
We are on the Garda Lake: this garden already existed but has been completely transformed together with the house restoration. A new oval swimming pool with changing rooms and a technical equipment room was built. The swimming pool had a particular shape and when it was being constructed it was like a boat. The owner is a sailor so he liked that idea of the swimming pool’s particular shape. The entrance to the swimming pool is like a ramp and resembles a beach, the color inside and out of the swimming pool is like sand. I used synthetic materials: pvc to line the pool itself and resin to pave the surrounding. The first thing we set out to do when planning was to open up the sweeping views over the terraces, the meadows, the òlive plantations and the lake by removing, wherever possible, plants typical of the villa garden. So I reshaped the land in a more natural way and planted along the borders mixed hedges of holmoaks, laurels and hornbeams. On the slopes were planted a lot of Lavandula, Euryops, Salvia, Vinca, Rhincospernum mixed with Clematis montana, Pitosporum tobira nanum, all used as a ground cover. Some Rosa chinensis mutabilis were planted at the beginning of the new entrance staircase while a large group of white hydrangeas revives the dark border hedge and cypresses.The new paving around the house and the new paths in the garden were made with cotto bricks. A new big terrace at the upper floor was paved with wooden slats and the owners wanted a whirlpool outdoor bath. I planted around this little pool some Chamaerops and blue and white Agapanthus. So you can be in the water watching the lake among the flowers.
Garden where once lemons grew
We are inside the area of the “limonaie”, citrus greenhouses that became widespread here in the 17th century. The “casello”was restructured using historical shapes and materials and local craftsmen. For the “limonaia”, Balsari decided to simply leave the area below as a lawn in order to highlight the value of the structure’s history in its entirety. In the highest terrace, rows of grapevines were replanted and reconstructed, occasionally interrupted by climbing roses (Iceberg, New dawn, Compassion Pierre De Ronsard Golden Showers, Chinensis mutabilis, Banksia alba). The lower terrace is used as a végetable garden and orchard. The roof garden, which is over an old water tank transformed into utility rooms, is only partly paved with wooden slats The rest is made up of a large irrigated flowerbed
hosting a collection of perennials. On the ground floor the paving is made like the old paths of this country : in pebbles laid on sand.
Her parents bought a house on the Ischia island in 1950. Her mother wanted a place with a sea view and a big garden and they found this old house surrounded by vineyards. Her mother planted along with grandmother Adele a lot of uncommon mediterranean plant species. The terrain of the island is of volcanic origin and therefore very rich in nutrients; the plants grow very well. In fifty years the trees planted have become giants: Maritime pine, Jacaranda mimosifolia, Olive, and a unique example of Eucalyptus ficifolia whose seeds came directly from Australia brought by her grandmother. Until not too long ago the Eucalyptus ficifolia was the only specimen on the island. Its beautiful red flowers bloom in July. Under the Eucalyptus near the “Belvedere” a collection of aloe and some agave attenuata cover the ground and survive the summer months’ dryness. The wall of the courtyard is completely covered by the splendid Bignonia unguis-catithat blooms in spring. Several Camellias bloom in autumn or spring and are a reminder of the wonderful Neapolitan gardens. In summer the garden is full of abundant blooms such as Oleander, Hybiscus, Lantane and Canne indica. My mother also brought from England some seeds of Ipomoea that has literally invaded the garden and has a spectacular bloom of blue color. Now I’ve also sown and planted White Ipomoea fragrant that opens at dusk. Many shrubs are part of the mediterranean bush: Acanthus, Philliree, Feijoja, Arbutus, Mastic, Myrtle,Rosemary, Rhaphiolepis, Calliandra twedi,Solandra maxima. The Acanthus plants grown wild in all the garden. Nature is the mistress in this garden and, if you let it free, it offers splendid surprises. Jasmines intertwine in bougainvilleas and with the branches of the fig trees The sweetness of the flowers mingle with the sweetness of the sea. In this garden were filmed some scenes from the film “The talented Mr. Ripley” with Matt Damon, Jude Law and Gwyneth Paltrow.