‘My guilty weekend pleasure is plant shopping’

Fernando Mifsud is the head gardener and curator of the Grade I-listed Villa Frere in Pietà, currently undergoing restoration. His weekends include voluntary work, feeding chickens and family time.
Fernando Mifsud at work at Villa Frere.

The weekend starts? The weekend usually starts at Villa Frere, with me preparing a task-list for the volunteers. Although we’ve been working on this garden for 10 years now, there’s still a lot to be done. This includes planting more trees and plants, fixing some of the water fountains, and ensuring the structure and cosmetic restoration of the two historic buildings in the gardens, namely Villa Hay and the gardener’s cottage. There are also plenty of rubble walls that need restoring and rebuilding so, yes, it gets busy.                             

Are you an early riser? Yes, I am. I usually wake up at 6am, have breakfast, and then feed my chickens and animals – both at home and at my garden in Għargħur. 

During the weekend, I’m at my most relaxed when: It’s definitely when I’m gardening. In fact, on top of my voluntary gardening work at Villa Frere, I also tend my own garden in Għargħur and the one at my home. Gardens are important to me!

Do you prefer to go out or spend time in: I love going out, but I prefer to spend my weekends in my gardens… After a whole week spent meeting people, I like my quiet time with nature. 

My guilty weekend pleasure: My guilty weekend pleasure is plant shopping. I love going to garden centres and looking for plants I don’t have in my gardens!

Saturdays give me time to: Catch up with the long list of chores at Villa Frere. I tend to spend the whole day there, and it can be back-breaking work, but it’s so fulfilling that I wouldn’t change it for anything.

Sundays are for: My family and close friends. We tend to meet up and spend time cooking, eating, and gardening. Sometimes we also go for long hikes in the countryside. 

My childhood weekends were: Always spent with the family in our large home garden. I remember we used to play there, but I also helped my grandpa and dad in the garden and tended to the many farm animals in those days. They were great.

I close off the weekend with: With some time for relaxation at my private garden in Għargħur. This is a sanctuary I’ve designed and created for myself, and it feels like the whole world melts away when I’m there. 

You can stay updated with the works at Villa Frere on the official Facebook page. For other Sunday Circle magazine weekend features read all about Gerard James Borg‘s guilty pleasures or Madeleine Baldacchino‘s love of nature.

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