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Pierre and Cheryl visit Giardino Reinhardt

Giardino Reinhardt is one of the most unique and impressive gardens in Italy. Set amongst acres of olive trees and vineyards, it is located just south of the charming old city of Cortona on the border of Tuscany and Umbria.

The garden is the creation of Thomas & Martina Reinhardt. Thomas, born in CA, is the grandson of the great theatre and movie producer Max Reinhardt. Thomas and his attractive and engaging wife, Martina, are landscape designers who worked extensively in Eastern Long Island before acquiring the property in Italy. In addition, the Reinhardts co-authored one of the first American books on ornamental grasses, ‘Ornamental Grass Gardening’, published by HPBooks.

These two passionate gardeners have little formal training but a definite feel for the land. Their years of experience have enabled them to create beautiful and extensive gardens, using a sophisticated selection of plants and color combinations that enhance the surroundings, tying seamlessly into the landscape.

Giardino Reinhardt is quite massive. It is comprised of a tropical garden, an extensive perennial garden and a gigantic alpine rock garden. Beginning just 10 years ago, the Reinhardts laid out an area that was to become a tropical garden. Cannas were used to create a hedge, which would not only enclose the garden but also section off area, cleverly creating garden rooms. Inside each garden room, you will find interesting combinations of tropical and subtropical plants, with a discerning eye towards contrasting foliage and texture, culminating in a visual exuberance of color!

The next challenge was the perennial garden. A winding grass path leads you through the 200meter long perennial border, gently taking you uphill where at every turn a new vista appears. As you meander along the path, there is so much to see. Many American natives have found a home here along with new American and European introductions. The noteworthy combinations offer up-to-the-minute plant selections along with the added bonus that many can easily be translated into the average garden.

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Nearing the end of the perennial border, nestled off to one side, is ‘The Garden Under the Olive Trees’. This garden was created in an abandoned olive grove. Thomas sculptured the land creating valleys and berms; on the berms there are the olive trees, - some of them ancient with bizarre tree trunks covered with lichen and moss. To enter, you must duck down slightly and go through a bough of living plants. Coming through, you gaze upon small islands of olive trees gently buoyed by Lysimachia nummularia ‘Aurea’, reminiscent of a raked Japanese-inspired meditation garden. Here you’ll find Hostas, Hakonechloa and other shade loving plants carefully chosen to create a feeling of tranquility. Your mind and body visibly relax as you continue your journey upward through the beginnings of the alpine garden.

At the top is the alpine garden, the latest addition to Giardino Reinhardt. Here, you’ll find many choice and rare treasures among the olive trees and swaths of Liriope and Acaena lining the path. There is a selection of low growing Sedums, Sempervivum, low growing junipers and cotoneaster, roses, evergreen shrubs trimmed as pom poms, trimmed Viburnum tinus and so much more.

It’s a rare thing in this day and age to see the creation of a garden this size, developed in harmony with the landscape, providing a treat for all the senses. It is beautiful any time of the season. The Reinhardts determination to garden according to organic principals has produced incredibly healthy plants, which in turn provides a healthy home to the many birds, butterflies, pollinators and wildlife in the area. It truly celebrates the beauty of nature and the diversity and love of plants.

At this time, Giardino Reinhardt can be visited by appointment only. Contact them by e-mail or phone. Contact information is available at: www.giardinoreinhardt.com

For accommodations, there are several bed & breakfasts in the area. We really enjoyed our stay at B&B Locanda della Luna. Their website: www.bblocandadellaluna.com.