From the Gold Coast Heritage Rose Group Letter, May 2008 (vol.XXXII , n°2)
"“LA PIETRA ROSSA” (The Red Stone) – a garden among Sardinia’s granite stones
July is that time of the year when the gap between me, my little garden and the horde of “green areas” that surround us, becomes more striking.
When the summer heat becomes harsher, the seaside gardens lit up with the garish colors of dozens and dozens of Bougainvillea, Hibiscus, Lantana, Oleanders, among endless groves of Canary date palms. This seems to be the main vocation of gardens scattered along the Coast of Sardinia Island, right in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, the other one being that of a overwhelming mass of stone pines, acacias and Eucalyptuses intersperse with barren earth. It is to such a fate that I decided, from the start, to rebel. I was only a teenager then, and I cannot swear on the amount of self assurance I had then, but I felt from the start that “my” garden should never become a copy of that boring mix of colors and shapes which was pleasant only during those two months of the year, when the powerful heath forces people to escape the sun and seek refuge in the coolness indoor. I was immediately fascinated by the English gardens, abundant with plants of every shape and kind that emanate a feeling of harmony, freshness and grace. Therefore I decided, against every logic, that I would have an English garden right there, in the middle of my hot granite stone hills [...]
The adventure started in 1997. After having experimented for years, at the venerable (!) age of 17 I managed to convince my father to leave me a small portion of garden, on the back. Here I planted the first Old Fashioned and English roses – the first ones I ever saw! I visualized the flower profusion of British gardens, luxuriant with the colours of roses and hardy perennials. Needless to say, the hot and dry Mediterranean climate, the opposite of your typical British climate, forced me to an endless sequence of adjustments, to select ruthlessly only those plants that were able to give the results I wanted. This part of the garden was widened and refined through the years, through many trials and experiments and is called today the Rose Garden. [...] For many years the garden was limited to this area, and only in 2001 I started a new development and conquered new garden spaces, where I could satisfy my collector’s passion and try to find a balance between plant lust and the need for composition, architecture and design. [...]
During the years the planting style evolved into what could be called an Anglo Mediterranean style, and many ideas I owe to the careful study of the natural landscape and plant associations of these areas. In 2003 I managed to convince my father to remove a 25 years old Pinus canariensis grove, to create yet another garden room. Here, in the driest and hottest corner of the garden that offers a poor and light soil, I started the Blue & White Mediterranean Garden. [...] The most recent big project was the completion, just in front of the house, of a water feature. I wanted to create a sort of stage setting, where borders and shrubs would be the frame to a water surface, and the natural landscape would be the background. This open, smooth area, has an altogether more graphic and sober feeling than the former ones, with many ornamental Grasses that shine under the sun rays in the afternoon, and many South African and Australian plants mixed with silver foliaged shrubs and various Teas and Chinas. [...]
More projects are waiting , and my garden will continue to be this, what it has always been, an endless experiment in the pursue of quietness, harmony and beauty."
Maurizio Usai, July 2007)