Passing by the road sign that indicates “Le Commande” on the way from Carmagnola to Poirino you wouldn’t expect anything different from a typical countryside of the Po Valley: on both sides of the road that leads into the shade of a poplar grove the grazing cows are, unaware, part of folklore, but you wouldimagine, at the end of this spot, the same maize and wheat fields you have just left behind.
Instead, after the poplars and a sudden view of corn fields with the Mount Monviso on the background, you happen into a fine corner of acacias. Here “Le Commande”are indicated on the left, where a country road unexpectedly dares a shy gradient. Few metres afterwards a surprising landscape appears, where the plain finally rests on the first horizons of the Pianalto hills.
You reach the nursery passing along a small wall where the hoopoe builds its nest, just by the family house, of which you can breathe the homely atmosphere.
Then finally comes the lake, shining as a play of colours, the first to welcome guests.
The fields of peonies are just beside, a wonderful outburst of colours when in bloom, a delight when faded or still in bud. From far away you can guess the outlines of Ico, Mumi and Carlo at work, carrying out the daily fight of every gardener against weeds, parasites and moulds. They always welcome their visitors in a kind and friendly way, and even if they are busy they are ready to show them around, to tell about their plants and to give suggestions, sharing their own experience.
They live in a house on the lake that doesn’t seem real.
Torino, about 30 km from here, could be miles away. It looks as if you weren't in Italy at all, but in the countryside of New England or Maine, as you have always imagined it even if you haven’t been there. You feel like in another world, where characters from a film are enjoying on the terrace and the lawn the view on the lake, the herons, the bubbling of fish and the flying of ducks.
In the nursery everybody does everything, including education.
If it's Carlo turn, he will gently smile to the laymen interrupting his work, ready to be their guide. The botanical path winds up along a road towards the greenhouses and the big field where in May the herbaceous peonies all together offer visitors a wonderful sight.
Herbaceous peonies every year have a different use: some are sent to customers, some are potted for exhibitions, some are planted in order to have, 3 years afterwards, the roots to graft shrub peonies.
The field, where the parade peonies, herbaceous and intersectional hybrids, are hosted, is protected by high trees, displaying an antique dignity: one more detail, that, while allowing a little shade and a good draining of the ground, makes the spot more and more fascinating.The rows and the greenhouses nearby, perfectly kept in order, reflect Ico's meticulous nature, that doesn't admit any kind of disorder.
Suddenly you come across the hostas collection. Just like peonies they seem to belong to the nineteenth century and are somehow out of fashion. They have therefore been recovered by the gardeners of the third millennium with new proposals.
Plants of certain atmospheres, they used to be placed in those areas that are no more part of the house nor yet garden, such as balconies, arcades, halls. They are easy plants, that get used to any kind of environment: at “Le Commande” these modern plant hunters recommend them to adorn wide areas where no other plant can grow: they are poor plants that need little care but are always in shape, always beautiful.
You can easily create a moving impression by playing with the large number of Hosta varieties, leaf shapes and colour nuances.
Walking along the path, while from the fields around the peonies display their fine bearing, under the oak trees Mumi's personality peeps out of the big group of hostas wisely gathered together beside the pond, where a peaceful croaking of frogs greets passers-by.
Caterina Gromis di Trana