ANTONIO CARLUCCIO'S URBAN FRUIT GARDEN
Sometimes life brings along some real surprises. Being approached by the late renowned Italian cook, Antonio Carluccio, to design and landscape his garden was certainly one of those moments. It all came about through exhibiting my first small back-to-back garden, ‘Be Fruitful’, at the 2009 RHS Flower Show at Tatton Park and being featured on the BBC’s early morning news slot.
Antonio’s fruit garden was inspired by the ‘Be fruitful’ show garden as he liked many elements of the design. The show garden set out to challenge the way we perceive growing fruit, no longer relegating it next to the compost bins but bringing it to the forefront and mixing it with ornamental perennials, grasses and roses. The design was contemporary, with clean lines, white rendered walls to reflect light and raised beds to allow for easy maintenance.
Antonio’s garden embodies most of these features as well as fourteen different varieties of fruit. The brief included a number of practical requirements: a workshop; plenty of space for entertaining; an area for a barbeque and spacious raised beds. A variety of fruits, as much grass as possible and a ‘herbery’ were also on the wish list.
The ornamental planting is a mixture of perennials, grasses, bulbs, small shrubs and roses to give that all-important interest through the seasons. Many of the flowering plants have been selected to attract butterflies and bees, for example various Alliums, Achillea millefolium ‘Red Velvet’, Salvia nemorosa ‘Ostfriesland’ and Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’. Others have been chosen for their scent Dianthus Firestar, Lavender angustifolia and dwarf stocks; all with a colour palette of rich reds, purples, pinks and white.
The garden features three half standard specimen fruit trees, a Cox Apple, Quince Vranja and Oullins Golden Gage, planted in the main raised bed to give height to the garden and to act as a screen to neighbouring houses. More espalier/fan trained fruit trees including another apple; a peach and two double U cordon pears are being trained along stainless steel cables. Soft fruits include strawberries, blueberry bushes, rhubarb, gooseberry, raspberry, tayberry, blackberry and a grapevine.
The raised ‘herbery’ bed includes a number of herbs Antonio is particularly partial to … Italian flat-leaf parsley, Petroselinum crispum var. Neapolitanum, garden sage Salvia officinalis, rosemary and wild garlic, Allium ursinum along with many more.