I am working on a page for this website that is a little off-topic. It is about wildflowers in Tuscany. The new page is partly for the couple-of-hundred Cobb County Master Gardeners who love Italy, especially Tuscany, and most-especially Montepulciano, where we have stayed. The page is also partly to provide an easy way for me to help people who are curious about the flowers they see next summer, when we go back to Italy for Joe’s job one more time.
One of my favorite activities of the past couple of summers has been walking through the countryside around Montepulciano, passing vineyards and olive groves, to see the local plants/flowers and their associated insects. Plants growing within the hilltop towns, which are nearly completely paved and have very little exposed soil, have also been a source of amazement.
While in Italy, I studied the ways container plants in front of buildings can tell about a building’s purpose. I paid attention to the mix of flowers along roadsides and in meadows, and considered how to recreate similar-looking mixes in the rainy, humid Southeastern U.S. I watched the pollinators, and saw a lack of diversity in the butterflies, but also an abundance of flower-flies and solitary bees.
The biggest surprise has been how many plants I can identify on-sight, without even thinking hard, because I have seen them here in the U.S. Dandelion is an easy one, but elderberry grows all over Tuscany, too. It turns out that many common weeds here in the U.S. are not native here. They are classified as being “introduced,” and they came from the Mediterranean region of the world.
This is not all bad news for the U.S., since many of these weeds either are edible or they have medicinal properties. They are useful plants.
You can see some of them now, on the new — but incomplete — Tuscany Wildflowers page of this website. I will continue to update the page over the next few months, so check back occasionally to see the new content.