June (late May early June) – A Tuscan garden in bloom (gremlin-free I hope!)

Serge Image
06/02/2009 - 12:38

Five years after having tamed a hillside with an excavator (ruspa) and having created 6 levels, the borders and slopes are now coming into their own.  These are the flowers in bloom in our garden in Tuscany (600 metres above sea level).  As the garden is still evolving it would be nice to hear from members about other plants that are in bloom in their own gardens.  I am very keen to plant some alpines on the slopes to flower at this time of the year.  I hope to post here each month the names of the flowers in bloom in our garden. Broom (Ginesta) It. Ginestra: yellow flowers with an intense perfume.Rose (Rosa): a variety of colours in the Hybrid Tea, Floribunda, Climbers and Ramblers, and Shrubs groups.  They line some of my fences, grow on a couple arches and as specimen standards and in a rose bed.  My favourite here and in the UK is the Iceberg (white floribunda).  An amazing rose that flowers continuously and in abundance.  Black spot is a problem in our garden as the air is so pure, but it is not a problem in London.  I have yet to find a weeping standard in any of the local nursery.  I may have to visit Vivai Margheritti in Chuisi. They have a great website and publishes the best plant catalogue I have come across.Philadelphus (Mock Orange) It. Filadolfo: white flowers with a lovely perfume! It took some time to establish itself.Jasminum (Jasmine) It. Gelsomino: perfumed white flowers growing on an arch and a structure near the idromassagio.  With the ginestre and gelsomini flanking the spa we do not find the need for aromatherapy in the tub at this time of the year.Potentilla (Shrubby Cinquefoil): small white and yellow flowers in the shrub border.Spiraea: plant with pinkish flowers given to me by the guy doing the excavation.  A lovely specimen plant.Aquiliegia (Columbines): all sorts of colours doing ever so well now in the herbaceous borders, 3 years after planting.  They self-seed.Campanula: violet flowers in the borders!Lonicera (Honeysuckle): perfumed white and yellowish flowers growing against a fence.Field poppy (Papaver): intense red flowers growing wild in the olive campo.  It is easy to mistake the plant for a weed when not in bloom.  What a mistake that would be!Alium: assorted varieties growing in the borders.  They were purchased from Broadleigh Gardens in Sommerset, UK.Alstroemeria (Perivian Lilly) (Lilly of the Incas): an outstanding plant growing in the borders.Rhododendron: I have finally found the right place for my 2 plants!  It was worth the hassle.Cotoneaster: white flowers growing freely on the slopes.Geranium (Pelargonium): different colours around the garden but I prefer red on the patios and the terraces.Pansy: in tubs and growing in abundance and on their own in a border underneath a Xmas-tree-shaped holly tree.Viola: in a variety of colours in vases hanging against the stonewalls.Rock Rose (Cistaceae) It. Cisti: white and pinkish flowers grown as specimen plants on the slopes.  My neighbour grows it against a fence.  What an outstanding show!Foxclove (Digitalis) It. Digitale: yet to reach their full potential in the borders, but they are still beautiful.Petunia: in low and wide terracotta vases by the pond next to the Willow tree.  They love their water crystals!Santolina (Lavender Cotton): yellow flowers growing on the slopes. All my plants were sourced locally in Montepulciano, with one exception: the Aliums.  The owner of the nursery knows all the latin names.  I frequently visit him armed with my Royal Horticultural Society encyclopedia of plants and my "Il grande libro Orto Frutetto Giardino (Giunti).  Although my Italian is only passable we certainly manage to sort it out in the end!  Finding an Italian nurseryman who knows all the horticultural names is certainly a good first indication of plant knowledge. I hope very much to hear from some members.   Now that the sun is out it is time to tender to my plants: they got a battering from the torrential rain during the last two days! Happy gardening!     



Great to get your review of what grows here - very usefule. You are lucky to have found a local vivaio that has a good range of plants - most of us spend all our days driving around looking for new varieties!You are welcome to visit vivaio Margheriti but be warned - it is a vast vast place and the prices are sky high. Also they often don't have the plants in stock that they show in the catalogue. Nonetheless their catalogue is extremely useful and their plant comments are tuned to the locals growing conditions. But i would suggest that if you are going to travel over to the Chiusi area then you might try a much smaller and specialied vivaio where the owner is onsite and can help you in person: Salto del Prete, Canale, Città della Pieve 0578 294506. Lucia Scrovacricchi helped me plant up the terraces around my pond - do take a look at my blog to see the project. Happy plant hunting!

 Hi Serge, I lived in Australia for many years and I loved bottlebrushes. I am glad to see that they are now sold in Europe, together with many other useful natives. Some "purists' will not like the introduction of foreign flora; however, many species that we consider to be European are only adopted plants from other countries and continents. I love eclectic gardens, with a bit from everywhere. In the old times, this couild be considered an exotic garden.Regarding callistemons, I guess that the one you have is the classic "Endeavour" or Callistemon citrinus "Endeavour", a beautiful plant with characteristic bottlebrush flowers in red. It usually flowers in early summer and then again in autumn. Prune just below the flower heads after the flowering season and careful with caterpillars (worst enemies). Otherwise, it is a hardy plant.Other varieties for callistemons which are worth looking for would be:Callistemon viminalis "Captain Cook" (Dwarf red bottlebrush), a very dainty red-tipped shrub with arching branches that flowers very liberallu in spring and summer.Callistemon pallidus (Lemon bottlebrush), with pale yellow flowers.Calothamnus (sic) sanguineus (One-sided bottlebrush or Silky-leaved blood flower)Callistemon salignus or Willow bottlebrush, a small tree which blooms with cream-white flowers that can grow up to 3m in 5 years or up to 9m at maturity. Used for decorative purposes in many Australian and New Zealand gardens.There are more species, it all depends on what you can get through local nurseries.Happy gardening!

Yes come on Serge - a full gallery to make us all even more envious. We would love to do more but unfortunately we are still only visitors and have to think when happens to the plants when we are in the UK.

You obviously love your garden, and have done a lot of work.I am tyring to tame one one the edge of the Casentino (400m up) and have been planting plants that the deer won't eat, so have gone for aromatic or poisonous - curry plant which also grows wild, lavender, santolina, oleander,rosemary, alliums, daffodils. They don't eat the aqueligia, but they have munched the sunflowers. The deer don't eat the iris, but over the winter the boar ate all the tubers! Fortunately I had a few in a cold frame, so I have started again.I can grow roses near the house, but the deer love the wild ones so much I don't dare put any in the garden. You are probably thinking- why not put up a fence but  I am reluctant to fence, though my neighbour has just fenced his land, as one of the attractions was the view, and a deer proof fence has to be 8ft high. The deer are lovely to see as well.Rosietat

In reply to by rosietat

Normal 0 Normal 0 I used to have the same problem when I lived in a country cottage in the UK.  They used to come in the back garden of the cottage over the field gate.  This was the only way in, as the edge  surrounding the back garden was thick and quite high.  Every year the edge was coppiced.  This way the fawns could not get through and the edge would be too tall for the deers.   The trouble was I never found a solution for the gate!  The advantage of  this kind of managed edge was the array of wild life it harbours!   It takes years to achieve this!  In Italy, my property at the front abuts a thick wood with deers, wild boars, porcupines, hares etc.  I have put up a low metal fence (1.5 metre). The metal wire netting is nailed to the round treated pine wooden posts which I have driven into the ground (without concrete).  The wire netting is buried about 50 cm underground to prevent boars and porcupines from entering.  A metre in front of the wire netting I planted a a laurel edge (I am told laurel is bitter and is not attractive to deers).  About 1 metre in front of the laurel edge I have planted olive trees of the 'siepe' variety.  They grow quite tall and do not need pruning.  In between the olive trees and the laurel I have planted daffodils.  There are at present some 3000 naturalised bulbs, they start to flower from February onwards and go on until May.  At present I am looking at my bulb catalogue for late spring and summer flowering bulbs.  For September I am looking at saffron crocuses: there is a place in Val D'orcia that sells them.  This system  has kept the animals out, but I can still enjoy them when I go walking in the woods!  The spaces beween the fence, the laurel edge and the olive tree edge were put in to facilitate  the management of each.  The bulbs create interest all year round! Ps sorry about the gremlins at the start of this post! 

It is difficult to combine the two, but you are doing very well, Rosietat. It is great to have advice from someone who is successful at it as there are quite a few members who have the same problems. And I agree with you, the deer are lovely.