ISSUE 4  |  Garden Envy

Rehab Diaries: The Resurrection of a Medieval Nobleman’s Garden

January 27, 2015 5:00 PM

BY Michelle Slatalla

The site: A medieval nobleman’s summer retreat, a palace in ruins, in the Piedmontese hills of northern Italy.

The challenge: Create a modern garden to complement a renovated complex converted into a luxury hotel and spa, Rocca Civalieri.

The solution: Turin-based landscape architect Cristiana Ruspa of Giardino Segreto created a hardscaping plan to create discrete outdoor spaces–a circular driveway, a shaded terrace, and an inner courtyard with a bleached wood pergola–unified by a single plant palette of colorful and hardy low-water ornamentals and perennial grasses suited to a Mediterranean climate.

Photography by Dario Fusaro via Cristiana Ruspa, except where noted.

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Above: The color palette of the garden plants–moody purples set off by the silver and gold leaves of ground covers and perennial grasses–complements the color of the metal-clad tunnel architects Baietto Battatiato Bianco designed to reinforce existing structures and to connect buildings from the medieval complex to one another.

In this garden bed, plants include silvery Artemesia ‘Ponis Castle’, perennial grass Stipa tenuissima, and purple spikes of Russian sage.

Before

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Above: Photographs via Baietto Battiato Bianco.

Shells of buildings and no evidence of a former garden, save a few spindly trees.

After

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Above: In the large driveway circle is a mix of grasses and ornamental flowering plants.

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Above: Plants include grasses miscanthus, stipa, and festuca, as well as flowering plants verbena and euphorbia.

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Above: Existing trees were pruned and shaped to provide dappled light. The arched branches of the tree in the driveway echoes the shape of the hotel loggia’s archways.

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Above: Says Ruspa, “The inner court of the hotel has a bleached wood pergola, designed in conjunction with the renovation architect, with gravel walks under the pergola and a lawn in the open central section.”

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Above: Mixed borders of perennial grasses and hardy flowering plants similar to those in the driveway circle are in garden beds at the base of the pergola. Climbing roses (Iceberg) and clematis vines will eventually grow up and over the wooden structure.

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Above: The plants are low-water, hardy perennials that thrive in full sunlight. The hotel Rocca Civalieri is located in the countryside, an hour’s drive east from Turin, Italy. For more information, see Rocca Civalieri.

For more of our favorite Before & After garden rehabs, see Before & After: A Grande Dame in LA’s Hancock Park.