YOUR ITALIAN COUNTRY CHIC PICNIC WEDDING

 
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Searching for an idea for an original and stylish wedding? A picnic wedding could be just the thing!

Imagine a beautiful 16th century Italian country house, Relais Corte Guastalla, surrounded by Custoza vineyards, just a short distance from stunning Lake Garda and romantic Verona, the city of Romeo and Juliet and eternal love.

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An exclusive picnic wedding in the shade of majestic trees, amidst bouquets of peonies, roses, lisianthius and many other hand-selected spectacular flowers. Only the finest china, crystal and original French silverware will be used to make your special day absolutely perfect!

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Our team of highly qualified professionals will help you create your unique picnic wedding with an unforgettable magical atmosphere in a stylish setting.

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A typical picnic wedding package for 25 people includes:

•    3 nights accommodation including international breakfast at Relais Corte Guastalla in a double or triple room

•    Exclusive use of Relais Corte Guastalla location for 3 days

•    Wedding Photography service  by Marco Bravi

•    Floral design and decorations by Tania Muser

•    Wedding Planner: Cristiana Sarego of My Perfect Day

•    Place settings by Manuela Piccoli

•    Food and drinks for the picnic

We create made-to-measure packages according to your special requests.

Get in touch with us!

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@ Marco Bravi

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A peak behind the scenes of a country chic picnic

 
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A country chic picnic is  an unusual way  to celebrate  your wedding reception, a birthday or a bridal shower. I’d been thinking about this ideas for quite a long time. Then when I met Orietta at Relais Corte Guastalla I knew that I’d found the perfect  location. So a couple of days later  I decided to organize an inspirational picnic shoot with: Orietta, Cristiana, Manuela an Marco.

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Let me introduce you to this wonderful team:

Orietta and her husband who welcomed us in their fabulous park and villa.

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Manuela Piccoli a romantic interior designer who’s passionate about shabby chic! She spends most of her time at antique markets in France searching for unique pieces. She turned the park into a magical setting with wrought iron lanterns, floral patterned armchairs and soft mauve velvet cushions. She laid out a white linen tablecloth on the grass with floral bone china dishes, French silver cutlery and crystal glasses.

@ Marco Bravi

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Marco Bravi and his son always manage to capture incredible emotional moments.

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Cristiana, a very capable wedding planner coordinated the whole day magnificently.

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My job was to organize the flowers. In keeping with the country theme I chose delicate wild flowers paired with luxurious peonies, elegant roses together with olive, rosemary and seasonal greenery.

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The mood was: fresh and sparkling, romantic and elegant with a retro feel about it.

These were some of the behind the scenes moments.

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Check my blog tomorrow for the picnic package details.

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Thanks to Gaiadi for the stationary!

 
 

discovering hellebore

 
 

Today I’m going to tell you all about my morning with Laura the owner of “The Unsual Garden” where I had the pleasure of discovering new varieties of hellebore. I met Laura in September in Mantua where she was showing off her recent crop of tulip, daffodil and iris bulbs. I immediately bought some colorful tulips and daffodil and so now I can’t wait to see them bloom. In the last few months I’ve been keeping in touch with her in order to know when the hellebore was ready to blossom. Usually they start blossoming in December but this year it was delayed due to lack of rain and the intense cold. Finally the message arrived and so I jumped into the car and went to see her.

Twenty years ago Laura and two families bought a piece of land where they built their homes. They left the garden unfenced so as to enjoy the countryside at its best. On clear days they have an amazing view over lake Garda and the nearby mountains and it’s a haven of peace and tranquility.

In spite of the greyish day, the garden had a magical atmosphere. I was immediately attracted to an impressive tree boasting tiny red apples and to delicate bunches of Viburnum dawn foresi. Laura was the perfect host accompanying me to explore her garden, pointing out the different varieties of hellebore scattered all over the garden. I even discovered some uncommon ones such as: hellebore picotee with delicate burgundy veining, a polka dot variety, a doubled petal one and even a blue one (I couldn’t resist buying one of the blue ones and I can’t wait to see it bloom).

Having spend a wonderful morning with Laura I’m anxious to return in April when the garden will be in full bloom.

Just a word about caring for your hellebore. It’s a hardy perennial, rustic plant and starts blooming at the beginning of winter until April. This plant likes half shade, and in April when it finishes blossoming it’s essential to keep it in the shade until autumn. In the Uk and northern America it‘s also known as the Christmas rose as it was traditionally used as a Christmas decoration. The most common variety is the Helleborus niger with its pure white flowers.

Hope you’re keeping busy in the garden as spring is on its way!

See you next time!

 
 

inspiring home decorations

 
 

Last Saturday I found inspiration in the beautiful greenhouse of Villa la Valverde. I started choosing the flowers and vases to use in the decorations the day before.

I combined a range of different berries with Norway pine, moss and hyacinth bulbs. Berries are an absolute must for any Christmas decoration for their amazing colours and textures. I decided to resume a Swedish Christmas tradition. In December in Sweden all homes have bulbs and when the flowers blossom, the scent spreads through every room. Bulbs are very easy to take care of. You need to water the bulb and the flower every 3 to 4 days. When kept indoors they blossom after 10 days. When the flowers wither, cut the leaves and the flower and store them in a paper bag in a dark, dry place. You’ll be able to plant them either inside or out next year.

As you can see from the photos, I used different types of bottles, small vases and other things that I found in the greenhouse to create interest. Always try to use at least 3 elements and dare to be different by making unusual combinations. For examples I put a succulent in a simple pottery pot together with an old wooden tool box which gave an unusual twist.

Don’t miss my next post about Christmas table decorations!
Have you put your decorations up yet? Send me your photos!

Notebooks and gift wraps from Lino’s & Co.

 
 

3 tips for a centre-piece with flowers from your gardens

 
 

Looking at the gardens so full of blooming flowers I thought about making a simple centre-piece with what nature offers us. I decided to create the arrangement working with just one colour and its different shades and consistencies.

The hue that I chose was the glorious red of my geraniums. You’re probably asking why I started with the colour and not the flowers. The reason being it narrows down the variety available. It’s essential to stick to one shade or a colour scheme when choosing the flowers you’re going to use. Keeping in mind this rule allows us the freedom to select the flowers and focus on the variety of shades, shapes and texture. I finally decided to match the geraniums with some oleander flowers and roses all with different hues of red.

Yesterday while I was on my way home, a blooming blackberry bush caught my eye. The graceful and tiny flowers seemed to have being drawn by children and are a pleasant reminder that summer is nearly here. I decided to use these to add lightness and frivolity to the centre-piece.

Fruit is also very useful when decorating a table. Shiny red cherries were the perfect choice that echoed the essence of summer. For movement and texture I added a sprig of rosemary, vine with tiny green grapes and some airy fennel bloom.

I use 3 small vases for this floral arrangement. Why 3? As the Latin saying goes “everything that comes in 3 is perfect”; a floral arrangement composed with 3 looks more natural and less forced than an even-numbered collection. Don’t be afraid to play around with the symmetry and asymmetry. Remember to use a simple vase if your composition is of a bold colour. For this centre-piece I used simple glass vases.

In a nutshell

  1. Decide on one colour

  2. Create a floral arrangement with 3 vases (glass or white ceramic or terracotta for a more rustic setting)

  3. Add fruit to give an extra special touch

  4. Enjoy and let yourself be transported by the colours

 
 

peonies

 
 

I’m always seduced in May by the majestic peonies. Being deeply in love with this flower I decided to give it my full attention with a shoot. First of all I started to look around my studio to find some objects to go with the peonies. I found some romantic little glass vases, some hand-made paper bags by Dutch stylist Ilvy Jacobs, an antique cake dish ... While I was deciding the best place for the shoot I came across the bright emerald lettuces growing in my vegetable patch. I thought it would be an unusual backdrop for some photos.

I selected one of my favourite variety of peony, the Sarah Bernhardt; with its delicate pink hue with some splashes of intense red near the stem. The metamorphosis of this flower always fascinates me. The peony bud starts out like a tightly closed fist, and then slowly becomes a flower rich in petals, a little bit ruffled and with that kind of crumpled look which I love so much. Plunging my face into the petals I feel their softness and freshness brush me. I don’t think you can find anything softer or more delicate. While I was buying them I just happened to find the peony Eventide which I saw for the first time. This peony is a single flowered one with its coral pink colour which fades until it becomes nearly translucent white. Only the single flowered variety opens in the day light and close at night.

The Sarah Bernhardt peony belongs to the herbaceous perennial plant, and was known in ancient Greece for its medicinal properties. It originally came from China where it was called the Queen of flowers. During the past centuries became more and more important and was an iconic flower. In 1903 The Qing dynasty declared it the national flower.

Enough small chat take a look for yourself!

If by any chance you are near Turin at the moment, go and visit the Commande nursery. This place was born out of passion for the peony. They have many different varieties of this magnificent flower.

 
 

May blossoming in my garden and terrace

 
 

May is an awesome month for my garden and terrace, every day there is surprise awaiting. I’ve been watching the peony bush for some days and just yesterday the first white flower blossomed. There is such a lot of life within it, ants are running up and down its branches and insect are nestling among the petals.

A poppy with its delicate red petal has just blossomed and I really don’t know where the seed came from.

The plants that we chose for the terrace are growing very well.

The green wall that we created is fully blossomed: in April the Osmanthus plants were a perfumed white cloud and now all the roses are opening up. There are different rose plants and each one has its own distinctive colour and perfume. The huses range from pale white to deep purple. The perfume from the white roses is very delicate whereas that of the deep purple ones is so rich and timeless. These roses remind me of the English garden ones which I really love.

The seeds that we planted in early March are growing beautifully. We planted some sweet peas, nigella and cornockles, but we have to wait patiently to see them bloom.

The herbs are coming on splendidly and the first strawberries were delicious.

Yellow, pink and red roses run along the garden fence. Like paint from an artist’s palette splashes of colour brighten every corner of the garden.

On Sunday afternoon I was sitting on the terrace in the shade reading an article about the use of the rose in the cosmetic industry. I discovered that the rose it the most studied flower by biologists and botanists. The only two roses that are used in this sector are the antique cabbage rose and the damask rose. The cabbage rose is cultivated in the South of France and Morocco in the valley of roses and I strongly recommend that you go there! The damask rose comes from Turkey and Bulgaria. Elisabeth de Feydau, professor of the Ecole of Perfumiers of Versailles, describes the scent of the cabbage rose : as herbaceous, poudrè and gourmand. The damask rose however has a fruitier scent with notes of litchi, raspberry, geranium and verbena.

Still on the same topic have a look at the video about the “Rose of Grainville” which was coultivated for the first time in Grainville in Normandy by the Dior. The villa and garden became a museum in 1997.

That’s all for now. I’ll be back next month to tell you how white lavender and seeds are coming along.

 
 

DECORATE A TERRACE ON THE LAKE #1

 
 

We are off to the garden market with Giovanni, a botanist and a garden designer. We are choosing the most suitable plants for the terrace on the lake.

This terrace will become a relax corner, a heaven of peace and tranquility.

Giovanni and I decided to create two green areas. On the terrace there were already some plants: hellebourus, nadina, skimmia , roses, tulips bulbs, muscari and hyacinth. We chose some perennials, herbs, shrubs, grass family and some flower seeds.
Our aim was to have flowers all year round. All these plants like sun and half shade, need general topsoil and are very easy to take care of.
We selected some herbs with different foliage: variegated thyme with small green/gold leaves, red mint whose leaves are nearly marsala red, lemon balm, basil and oregano.

Not forgetting a small presents for elves: wild strawberries...

Lavender was a must so we picked two varieties: the wild pink lavender which is already in bloom and the white edelweiss. I’m very curious about the white one as it’s the first time that I’ve seen it.

It was love at first sight with the wild Stipa bush with its flowing dancing mane (I noticed that Hermes used it in a recent advert).

In the last few decades the grass family has become more and more and popular. Many international garden designers love these shrubs as they need little care and water. They are exuberant all year around and breathtaking in winter when covered in frost.

If you happen to go to Lake Iseo this summer, the village of Paratico has a beautiful area of dancing grasses near the lake front. Don’t miss the “The Floating Piers” created by the Bulgarian artist Christo From the 18th June to the 3rd July.

We thought of integrating some Osmanthus shrubs with the roses to create a green wall. The Osmanthus is a frost resistant, perennial plant, with a white spring blossom.

We added a touch of China with the Rosalita Moscata which has 5 petals and an amazing light perfume.
With our treasure of plants and seeds we headed for the lake to plant them.

We put the Bacsac pots near some old ones of different sizes. A few red pots were added to give it a splash of colour.

See you next month!

 
 

first floral design workshop of this season

 
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In the last few months I’ve been concentrating more on my floral workshops and so I decided to introduce some new ideas. I wanted it to be a relaxing carefree afternoon, away from duties and meetings. A slow afternoon amidst nature, colours and flowers.

I was so excited about my workshop of the season which was being held at Villa La Valverde.

Maria Giulia, the owner, took us on a stroll to discover the surroundings.In the small wood there was an awesome blossoming Pruns with a cloud of little white flowers, that took our breath away. Then a bright yellow bush of forsythia appeared. Hidden behind old stone walls lies a magical secret garden where a beautiful climbing clematis with white flowers now reigns. The lawn was scattered with wild spring flowers form fresh daisies to pretty little violets.

After our refreshing walk and full of enthusiasm we got stuck in to the course.

For the table decorations we created an elegant floral garden arrangement and a more rustic one with bulbs, moss, foliage and flowers.

I decided to have a palette with white, different hues of pink, fuchsia, violet and coral red. The foliage was olive branches, rosemary and eucalyptus. We only used spring flowers: fuchsia and pink ranunculus, double tulips “Adore”, white, violet and fuchsia anemones, coral red sweet William and bulbs of white hyacints and yellow narcissus.

Mid-course we relaxed with a cup of tea and homemade biscuits.

I love sharing ideas and tips about decorating the table with what we’ve got in our homes.

A few possibilities could be: a small bunch of herbs, a napkin ring made with an olive branch or a small cone made with a green leaf.

Remember that you can decorate a table very nicely and colourfully using seasonal fruit, or a floating blossom in a glass or even using a coke bottle with flowers in it.

For Easter what about having some hyacinth bulbs wrapped in rustic paper tied with cord, or a small olive branch with a chocolate egg for each guest or a tulip on every napkin.

When I saw all the creations lined up I thought that each one was the mirror of the person who created it. 

I’m always very surprised to see how each person expresses themselves with flowers.
 

Don’t forget our next workshop will be on the 16th April where you can create a natural boho bouquet and an unusual wreath.

 
 

Flower Design Course at the Villa La Valverde #1

 
 

March 29th, 2014 was the date that Floral Design Courses covered the subject of floral spontaneity at the Villa La Valverde. Splendid bouquets were created when mixing cut flowers with flowers and plants found at the Villa.

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We have gathered some photos of the welcoming flowers we found as well as the creations we made.A warm thank you to all of the participants whose energy and passion translated into the optimum results displayed.

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