Sitting still is one thing that Uli Frei could never do. She’s a doer: Having completed a course in horticultural studies in America 1988, she went on to study ornamental plants in Berlin in 1989, worked in exports for a plant nursery in Veneto in 1993 and two years later, came to work for a plant nursery in Alto Adige/South Tyrol. Uli is originally from the Ruhr region and intended to return to Germany in 1997, “but then my husband Hanskarl happened along,” she says with a smile.

With her perennially itchy feet, it was a long time before Uli looked on Alto Adige/South Tyrol as her home. Today, when she stands in the blossoming apple orchard of the Prechtlhof in Merano/Meran and looks out at the snow-blanketed mountain peaks, she knows that she is where she wants to be. The fact remains, however, that she cannot sit still for a second.

Mother to Alina, Lukas and Julia, Uli is an apple ambassador and hiking guide, point of contact for holiday guests, housewife, garden designer and apple farmer. She looks after the rabbits, hens and dogs and tends the vegetable garden, the berries and the pitted fruit growing around the house, mows the lawn and cooks the meals. And of course, whenever necessary, works in the orchards. Her favourite job is weeding the garden. “That’s when I forget about time and can really relax,” she says. In the evening, when the work is done, Uli sits back happily. And sorts out the paperwork.