The backbone of the San Pietro garden is a long pergola that stretches roughly east to west, providing a shady stroll from the house to a swimming pool. Sunny, open flower beds and gravel walks range down either side of the pergola. Leevers' design is basically formal in plan, with the garden space arranged in an unfolding series of outdoor rooms unified by the diverse but distinctly informal plantings. Each flower bed is stocked to overflowing with plants selected for scent and drought tolerance.
San Pietro had been uninhabited for several generations before Lucy and Marvin arrived, and their earliest memories include a lack of attractive trees and the coarse, desiccated remnant of a failed lawn. After the installation of a computer-timed drip irrigation system, the couple planted many ornamental trees-particularly cypresses and olives, without which no Italian garden is worthy of the name. And then, under Leevers' plan, the lawn was replaced with flower beds filled with dianthus, lavender, salvias, myriad herbs, and shrub and climbing roses.
Now, more than a decade later, the garden provides Lucy and Marvin with exactly the home they set out to create.
Compared to Tuscany, Umbria is much less crowded. And with its hilltop site, San Pietro is extremely peaceful-"the only sound you can hear is the distant ring of cowbells," offers Lucy.
"We spend up to a third of our year here," she adds, contemplating what San Pietro has meant to their lives. "My daughter was married here, we've had several major family gatherings, and friends come and go. It is another nest for Marvin and me, and we count ourselves blessed to have found it."