Has anyone else had problems with their comments recently? For some reason I'm not getting E-mail notification of mine any more ( I won't blame Blogger for that - I probably clicked on the wrong button and blocked the address instead of cancelling the message or something), but I'm also having trouble publishing them. In particular, the system "ate" one message from Lou Laz, so I thought I'd answer her question here.
Lou Laz wrote saying that she was going to be in Milan and wanted to buy seeds while she was here. It's not that easy. As you'll see when you arrive, Milan is all apartment blocks - almost no-one has a garden, and consequently all that the garden centres, supermarkets and street markets stock are fully grown plants, houseplants and in summer balcony plants mainly. If you go to the outskirts and to the roads leading out of town, you'll find more garden centres catering also to people with gardens, but in town the only place that I know that has a really good stock is Fratelli Ingegnoli of Viale Pasubio (they have another centre too, in Via Mecenate - depends which area you're staying in). Their website is here.
Back to the balcony ..... The mild weather has really made a difference this year. By now, I usually have everything stacked against the wall of the house and covered in fleece, but this year not only has it not been necessary, but also everything is still flowering in a way unheard of for December. All the photos here were taken during the last few days. It was the warmest November for thirty years - so warm that they weren't even able to use artificial snow on the ski slopes of the Alps until just this last week or so, let alone hope for the real thing. The four day weekend which we had last week is usually the start of the ski season, but this year there was no chance. As the whole economy of that area depends on the ski trade, it's a big problem. The temperature has dropped a bit now - we had our first frost the other day, though it's back to 7° today - but still nothing like usual.