Hallway displays

Here’s one of those stuck-indoors-on-a-hot-day posts. Bear with me.

Long, long ago we went to Tuscany for two friends’ wedding.

Lavish. Utterly lavish. And the location was one of those places which you will never forget and bore everyone witless trying to describe its opulence.

It was at Sting and Trudy’s home outside Florence. And the two friends were actors; the guest list being one where you spent the whole weekend gawping and marvelling at being so close to so many famous folk.

I didn’t take my camera.

Curses. It just didn’t seem polite.

But my regrets aren’t that I didn’t snap Kate Winslet and Sam Mendes dancing.


Two completely different scenes remain with me to this day.

One was the sight of the staff on the morning of the wedding wiring lemons onto the lemon trees in pots in the garden.

They probably didn’t expect a wedding guest to be up at that ungodly hour.

It was surreal.

The other was walking into our hotel entrance and marvelling at their display of plants.

There were so many people at this wedding we took over all the 16 bedrooms in the villa but also at an hotel which was a good relaxed stroll away.

Or a not so relaxed late at night trot when you hear wild boar rustling in the fields beside the road and put on a burst of speed.

I have never forgotten that feeling of coming in from the heat and being confronted by an archway between the reception rooms which was cool and shady and just dripping with beautiful plumbago in decorative pots climbing up an old wooden table.

You probably know plumbago.

Delicate blue, modest but robust. I have never dared have it here on our mountain farm as it needs to be brought inside for winter.

But I bought one at les Vans market last week. My first ‘dare I recreate that long lost image’ in my gardener’s mind.

So I have the plant. But looking around I can see that all my best cache pots (decorative pots) are full of not plants but pens.

That was the image I always kept in my mind.

Rather blousy decorated pots and a delicious pale blue climbing plant working its way up the cool walls of the hotel.

I could have a good rummage in my china cabinet and repurpose those rather useless soup tureens. They would only be useful for vats of gazpacho right now.

Instead I have done what all people with a good internet connection and a cat on one’s lap do during the siesta hour. I went hunting for the original picture of the hotel on my phone.

It took a while. First I had to find the link to the villa. And then laboriously hit on all the hotels within walking distance of the location.

I think this was the entrance way I recalled. The hotel is called Palagina la Dimora.

And then all a quiver I set off looking through the endless photos of the hotel interior.


They have remodelled the entrance way.

Gone is the giant table and plants. And in its place chic but rather uninspiring black planters. Way too neat.


I did find this picture from someone’s blog from years ago. [It was a long afternoon and the cat was so happy I didn’t dare shift her off.]

Is it close to my memory? Is it even the same entrance way? It looks like a very humble entrance compared to the one above.

Am I even in the same building?

That will teach me. Take a photo when you can and then you will save hours of toil in twenty years time.

So I am going to have to recreate the atmosphere myself.

Our hallway is on a much more domestic scale. (Dozens of boots, slippers and shoes anyone?). And very bright. (thank you sun tunnel.) It ought to be gloomy if I want that wonderful contrast of bright then cool. But it’s a devil to put on your workboots in the poor light of winter. And surely this heatwave won’t last forever.

At least I have a glam collection of Andrew Wilkie hats.

If I’m to try and recreate the scene, out would go the huge allium stack in the grey pot.

And the plumbago will definitely make an appearance, once I have potted it up.

Lifting that heavy pot and the plant might be a devilish job when I need to photograph the bouquets. That is my photo screen (Farrow and Ball Sap Green) when I want to photograph the flowers before they go to town.

We shall see. If all else fails the plumbago can go up to the potting shed and make friends with the citrus grove.