Of Romanian origin, Jeanne Catherine Ghyka was the daughter of Colonel Peter Keshko and Princess Pulchérie Stuzdza. She was a prominent figure not just on account of her family’s status (her sister was Queen Natalia of Serbia), but because of the cultural and artistic milieu to which she belonged. When studying painting and sculpture in Paris, she met the Countess of Montebello, who introduced her to some Florentine friends of hers. One of these friends would help her negotiate purchase of Gamberaia, a Villa that had belonged to the Capponi family before she bought it in 1896. Little is known about Catherine beyond the fact that she devoted her life to the garden she created, replacing the former parterrewith a water garden. Villa Gamberaia was for her a safe haven, a place for the princess to tarry and meditate. She spent her time at the villa with Florence Blood, a painter she met in Paris and a friend of Gertrude Stein’s. Her home was open to her many friends who appreciated the garden’s beauty and evocative feelings. Mary Berenson was one of the first visitors to Gamberaia in 1896; her husband, Bernard, called Ghyka a narcissist. Another woman, Edith Wharton, described the garden as “Probably the most perfect example of the art of producing a great effect on a small scale…” The princess would not have been able to achieve what she did without an exceptional gardener: Martino, father of Pietro Porcinai, with whom she shared a love of flowers and colours, in particular the blue of irises and plumbago. She would be forced to move away from Gamberaia in 1925: after Florence died, and after the war, the world had become a different place.
Look at the card of Villa Gamberaia