ISSUE 42  |  Italian Masters

Landscape Architect Visit: A Hazy Dreamscape in Northern Italy by Cristiana Ruspa

October 21, 2015 9:00 AM

BY Michelle Slatalla

A native of northern Italy, Turin-based landscape architect Cristiana Ruspa of Giardino Segreto creates the sorts of gardens you see in a dream, with hazy swaths of color against a distant horizon. In designing a garden for a large villa surrounded by hills in the town of Reggio Emilia, she created a colorful landscape that feels painted rather than planted:

Photography by Dario Fusaro courtesy of Cristiana Ruspa.


Above: When late-day sunlight hits a planting bed in the middle of the lawn, it makes the fronds of ornamental grasses smolder and turns purple perovskia (Russian sage) luminous.


Above: Ruspa, who trained in Miami as well as in Europe, favors planting palettes that emphasize the use of water-saving plants that thrive in a Mediterranean climate.italy-cristiana-ruspa-garden-planting-beds-lawn-gardenista

Above: Cypress and cork trees anchor garden beds; mounds of silvery artemisia and lavender spikes of Perovskia atriplicifolia add texture and color. In the distance are geometric flower beds bordered with woven hazel edging.


Above: The hazel hurdles and planting beds are spaced in a precise, geometric formation to create a checkerboard effect against the lawn.


Above: Wispy grasses give the garden a sense of movement.


Above: A steel pergola is anchored to the surrounding landscape by a deck and walkway made of wooden slats. The height of a pencil-thin cypress tree plays off the pergola’s slim, vertical support beams.


Above: Breaching the boundary of the walkway, a border of ornamental grasses and perennials adds an air of informality to play against the clipped green turf grass.


Above: Silvery gray-green clouds of artemisia soften the edge of a planting bed.


Above: Artemisia, grasses, and seed pods from spent flowers create a colorful autumn landscape.


Above: Young trees are braced against the wind with teepee supports.


Above: From a distance, the silvery foliage of artemisia floats on the lawn.


Above: A rustic railing adds mystery to a wooden walkway bordered by a dry stone wall.

For another of Ruspa’s dreamscapes, see The Resurrection of a Medieval Nobleman’s Garden.