|Ottilia Iten, in hat, talks with some of the many visitors to her garden on the Giudecca|
One of the most beautiful is the Giardino di Ottilia, whose dark unadorned metal door opens up to what seems very much like some fairy tale reward only after you've braved a long narrow sunless calle from the Palanca vaporetto stop, suspecting ever more the further you walk that perhaps you've fouled up the directions and taken the wrong path, as how could there possibly be a garden here amid so much pavement and brick?
Once inside the enclosed "giardino naturale", with rose blooms profuse and fragrant all around, you may wonder why you didn't simply follow your nose to it. The garden is large but, fortunately, not palatial, which is a good thing because all this abundant and wild beauty is the work of one woman and it's hard to imagine how she could possibly manage any more. The woman's name is Ottilia Iten and while she can tell you anything you'd like to know about each different variety of plant and flower in her garden (and in Italian, German, French, Spanish, and English, no less), the basis upon which the plants in her garden are selected, placed and nurtured is not simply out of some scientifically-minded conventional handbook.
Her gardening follows energetic rather than theoretical principles, and as important a tool as any spade, shovel or rake in her garden is her pendulum. Ottilia says she uses her pendulum to "choose the plants that want to come into the garden, find out where they want to be planted, on what day and at what hour they want to be planted, and how and when they want to be cared for. I may sense that something should be changed or done, but then I check with the pendulum to find out exactly what it should be."
Ottilia's interest in gardening this way was inspired by her reading of Peter Tompkin's and Christopher Bird's book, Secrets of the Soil, and Tompkin's The Secret Life of Nature. The former book devotes a chapter to Perelandra, a nature research garden in the United States founded by Machaelle Wright, whose own books (such as Perelandra Garden Workbook: A Complete Guilde to Gardening with Nature Intelligences) also form the core of Ottilia's approach. But, she points out, one can now find a great deal of information about all this online.
www.wigwam.it/)--the "open doors" are intended only for individuals, couples, friends, families, not large groups or tours.
Ottilia says that she finds gardening in this way to be an "adventure," one that keeps her continually interested and satisfied, and, judging from the many visitors I observed two Sundays ago, I think her guests would describe their experience of her garden in the very same terms. It's a magical place.
|Ottilia is an excellent guide for visitors of all ages--and many tongues|