A Garden Worth Preserving

The Italian Garden Project is thrilled to be documenting the amazing garden of Bruno Garofalo of Pittsburgh Pa. Bruno’s garden will be archived in the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Gardens. We will visit the garden monthly for up to a year, photographing, videotaping, sketching the layout and plantings, and learning as much as we can from this knowledgeable, kind, and generous gardener. Several photos of the initial visit are shown here.

Bruno Garofalo

Bruno was born in Petrella Tifernina, province of Campobasso, Molise, Italy. He immigrated to the US in 1962.

Double dug garden

His garden covers the backyards of two adjoining properties. He digs all of the beds by hand each spring.

View from balcony

This is a view of half of the garden looking down from the from the balcony of his home.

Terraced garden

Bruno created two large level terraced gardens from the steeply sloped backyard of one of the properties.

cold frame

Bruno starts all of his plants from seed that he has saved from season to season. He starts many of his tomato seedlings in this cold frame that he built.

tomato seedlings

He grows more tomato plants and other vegetable seedlings in containers on his balcony and near the garden.

damaged fig tree

Bruno’s prize fig trees have been badly damaged by the past two extremely cold winters. He brought the trees as small rooted shoots from Italy when he came to the US in 1962. They had grown into large and productive trees over the past four decades. He wrapped them every winter to protect from the cold, but even with his extensive winter protection they did not survive intact during the past two winters. The photo shows small shoots growing from the roots. Let’s hope these thrive and grow into the beautiful and historic trees they once were.

Click below to learn more about Bruno:

Meet Bruno and his family

A visit to Bruno’s garden in 2012

– See more at: http://www.theitaliangardenproject.com/preserving-garofalo-garden.html#sthash.xHjoTGhr.dpuf


Mary Ellen DeVito

How I wish I were his apprentice! I am a hamfisted gardener: I plant things haphazardly, pray for something to grow, and then rejoice when it does. Yet I dream of doing the things Mr. Garofalo does. Where does he get the stamina???

Mary Menniti

Much of his stamina comes from a lifetime of hard physical work, his early years working on his family farm in Italy, then later in construction in the US. But I think his stamina when gardening also comes from being engaged in something that brings him great joy and satisfaction and makes him feel truly alive.

Sam Webb

Mary, I love your website, and always marvel at the cleanliness of all of the Italian gardens in Pittsburgh.

Would you know the variety of tomato that Brono grows? Or, is it an heirloom whose name has been lost to time?

Sam Webb

Mary Menniti

You’re right, Sam. Rarely a weed in sight. This is one of the visible ways that demonstrate how much their gardens mean to them. They are so lovingly cared for and bring great joy to the gardeners. Bruno starts his tomatoes from seeds of varieties brought from Italy, but like most of these heirlooms they may never have been given commercially recognizable names. They are generally referred to descriptively by the shape or size.

Joan Saverio

Wonderful work Mary! Been watching your project for a while now. It is inspired. These immigrants and their gardens are so familiar to me. Your documentation is a a gift to all of us who had family members like these folks, to us as present and future gardeners, and to the gardeners themselves who I am sure appreciate the attention (having interviewed many an elderly person). Forza!

Michael Fitch

The size and quality of all the plants in Mr. Garofalo’s garden is very impressive. I was wondering if Mr. Garofalo use any fertilizer in his gardens?

John Garfold

Bruno, the amount of figs you grow is amazing ! I have adopted a fig tree care of my late father-in-law and not sure how to care for it. Any advice would greatly be appreciated. Ciao!


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