April 9th 2016 Etruscan Places

I read D H Lawrence’s Etruscan Places when we moved to Italy in 2003.  The place where we live was Etruscan, and their presence can be felt all around us. I’ve even found tiny fragments of their pottery when digging in the garden.

“The boys went ahead across the fallow land, where there were many flowers, tiny purple verbena, tiny forget-me-nots, and much wild mignonette, that had a sweet little scent. I asked the boys what they called it. They gave the usual dumb-bell answer: ‘It is a flower!’ On the heaping banks towards the edge of the ravine the asphodel grew wild and thick, with tall flowers up to my shoulder, pink and rather spasmodic. These asphodels are very noticeable, a great feature in all this coast landscape. I thought the boys surely would have a name for it. But no! Sheepishly they make the same answer: ‘È un fiore! Puzza!‘–It is a flower. It stinks!–Both facts being self-evident, there was no contradicting it. Though the smell of the asphodel is not objectionable, to me: and I find the flower, now I know it well, very beautiful, with its way of opening some pale, big, starry pink flowers, and leaving many of its buds shut, with their dark, reddish stripes.”

I smile every time I reread this extract as on one of the firsts walks in the countryside we took with friends I asked the same thing; I was shocked when her reply was the same as the boy’s to Lawrence “It’s a flower”

The first Asphodels we saw were at the site of Etruscan tombs so that now when I see Asphodels flowering along the road we take into town I always associate the flower with visits to the tomb sites.

Asphodelus microcarpus

Asphodelus microcarpus

Asphodelus microcarpus

Asphodelus microcarpus

Asphodelus microcarpus

Asphodelus microcarpus

Asphodelus microcarpus

Asphodelus microcarpus

I did think they might be good to pick for a vase, their form is very vertical which I like in cut flowers but I agree with the boys Lawrence met, I think the flowers smell rather unpleasant.

On a different road I pass this beautiful clump of yellow Asphodels; the road is quite busy and the cars race along so this is the first time I’ve been brave enough to stop, get out of the car and take some photographs.

Asphodeline lutea

Asphodeline lutea

Asphodeline lutea

Asphodeline lutea

Asphodeline lutea

Asphodeline lutea

I was surprised that the flowers are much larger than the white/pink Asphodel.  I would like to have these growing on the slope.  I will look for seed; sadly these are usually cut down before they set seed although the clump is enlarging so perhaps I’m wrong about that.

Asphodeline lutea

Asphodeline lutea

Is there a wild flower that you would welcome into your garden?



34 thoughts on “April 9th 2016 Etruscan Places

  1. Those are really interesting and beautiful flowers. Wild Ageratum has landed in my garden. It blooms with small clusters of blue flowers in the fall. The plant really likes my garden and I need to thin it out every year.

    • I’ve never seen wild Ageratum, I think of it as an annual people buy in spring as bedding. As long as it isn’t difficult to remove it must be a good addition?

      • I like it, but I am not a really disciplined gardener. I always let plants grow here and there to see what happens. I find that sometimes plants find their own place to grow (writing a post about that). I find the wild Ageratum (weed to others) very pretty and the bees and hummers like it too.

  2. Etruscan places…how wonderful to live among them. And that wildflower is lovely…I think I like the yellow best. I am awaiting the first wild flower here…usually Bloodroot. With the return of winter everything is delayed but I bet by next weekend we may finally see them as we move from 30s and 20s to 60s. Crossing my fingers.

  3. I read Etruscan Places after visiting you and seeing the Etruscan tombs with you. How lovely to live amongst all this history, not to mention the wonderful wild flowers.
    The wild flowers I am enjoying at the moment are the wood anemones in the woods near here.

  4. I must see how our Asphodels smell, I’ve never noticed. I don’t think we have the Asphodeline lutea but I would not have recognised it as such if I had seen it. Amelia

  5. It must be wonderful to love in an area with such a rich history – although native Americans undoubtedly lived in my area hundreds of years ago, I can’t say we ever find vestiges of such inhabitants.

    The Asphodels are beautiful plants and I’d certainly be open to them in my garden, were they hardy (or available) here. I’ve been trying to introduce some of the lupine that pop up along the roads here but they don’t seem happy with my soil. Even California poppies take encouragement!

    • Some of the people here actually look Etruscan and genetically there is quite a strong group with recognizable Etruscan genes. Near us they carved the cliffs above their tombs, when we walk there next I’ll show you some photographs. It is wonderful to think of them using the hot springs that are all around us.

  6. They are lovely Christina. I think I have seen them here too, but not in large numbers. I also frequently see flowers from the car while driving on some treacherous curve or slope! Recently the Coltsfoot and Hepaticas, next it will be Harebells of all sorts, then Sage, then Chicory and Echium. I have tried these last two with little success, but I really should try to collect seed too. If you do stop there again for seed, do take care!

  7. Lovely post Christina. Enjoyed it so much and was excited to see you mention mignonette, which I just heard of yesterday in a talk at the museum about a garden on Isle of Shoals off the coast of Maine. They were favorites of the garden owner Celia Thaxter (Island Garden on the island of Appledore). The garden has been recreated.

    • I don’t think I would actually recognize a mignonette, they must be rarer now than in Lawrence’s time. It is funny how when you hear of something new often you hear about it from different sources at once.

  8. Fascinating post. I’m sorry that they’re not allowed to set seed–is that a decision by private owners or public entities? I think it’s amazing that you could find Etruscan pottery fragments.

    • I may be wrong about them being cut before they seed because the patch is getting larger each year. It is a road verge so it would be the local council to decide.

  9. Christina realmente vive en un lugar mágico. Escavar en su jardín y encontrar cerámica etrusca! Debe tener una sensación especial al poder tener en sus manos un trozo de historia. En cuanto a las flores me quedo con la Asphodeline lutea para un jarrón, si no huele mal!. Mi flor instalada en mi jardín es la millenrama en blanco que es la variedad silvestre. También hay helechos pequeños a medianos silvestres que ya están saliendo y me encantan. Saludos de Margarita. margarita141.

      • Sí Christina en la zona más fría del jardín. Los helechos están preciosos hasta en Verano con temperaturas de hasta 34 grados Centígrados que hemos tenido este pasado Verano de forma anormal, pero que con el Cambio Climático me parece que van a ser normales. También hay musgo en las sombras perpetuas y ahora por toda la zona de los helechos. Yo no tengo caminos como tú sino la hierba del campo la paso el cortacesped allí donde no tengo parterres. Saludos de Margarita. margarita141.

          • Christina por usted haré fotos de mi maltrecho y abandonado jardín. Ya vine mal con una pierna y la rodilla y el tiempo no permitía hacer labores de jardinería. Para estropear más la cosa, me caí hace tres días de una escalera de 5 peldaños de espaldas dentro de casa y tengo las costillas, una pierna y la rodilla muy maltrecha: a base de calmantes y muy mal en la cama. Además está lloviendo mucho. Y mi cámara de fotos es de aficionados. Pero no se preocupe que en cuanto amaine un poco la lluvia salgo y hago las fotos. Si es tan amable y me da la dirección de su blog mejor porque yo todavía no se muy bien como va esto de WordPress y como subir fotos a mi blog vacío. Porque mi dirección de WordPress la utilizo para guardar todos sus blogs. Muchísimas gracias por interesarse por mi jardín. Adelanto que una especie de ratones -no digo su nombre porque no se traduciría- se han comido cuatro lavandas que llevaban plantadas 6 años y estaban gigantes y hermosas y lo que queda está muerto, porque se comen las raíces. También se han comido un matorral vivaz de claveles rojos pequeños que florecían desde mayo a septiembre sin parar. Ahora esos ratones están invernando y no puedo echar veneno por los túneles. Tengo que esperar a que haga calor para matarlos y volver a poder plantar. Perdón porque me he excedido en escribir: me he dejado llevar. Saludos de Margarita. margarita141.

  10. Very interesting post – lovely to see the wild flowers. Lawrence’s observation of the boys’ attitude is amusing: just what you’d expect! I think I’d choose snowdrops for my favourite wild flower (I consider them plants of the hedgerows, rather than of gardens) but no chance here in Egypt!

  11. I once visited Volterra where, if I remember correctly, there is an Etruscan Museum, very interesting.
    I am very keen on Lungwort (Pulmonaria) which I believe is a wild flower (P. officinalis) in Germany. Our garden has also been colonised by wild garlic (Ramsons) and I have no idea how it got there!

    • Most of the towns that were Etruscan now have museums; the best is probably Tarquinia although all of them have interesting local finds. I always prefer small museums that have local artefacts rather than large ones where often everything is mixed together. The Etruscans formed city states and often followed quite different religious practices especially in the manner in which they buried their dead.

  12. I am all about wild flowers and weeds. haha. Loved the Lawrence quote. ty. I’ve seen the name asphodel in print but never actually saw the flower before. Very nice.

    • There is a similarity is the appearance of Camassia and Asphodel but they require very different conditions, so one of them is sure to find a place in your garden.

  13. Most interesting, Christina, and makes me realise I know nothing about the Etruscans other that than pottery remains are found which surely can’t be the only thing worth knowing – some Googling is in order! And again, I have heard of Asphodel but not what they looked like – so thanks for furthering my education…

    • I see you are catching up with reading posts, as I am at this moment. The Etruscans are fascinating; their culture was very advanced and their building of roads and bridges was outstanding; the Romans learnt the skill from them. women in their society were also equal to men and held property even as married women. Sadly the early Christians didn’t like them and much of the knowledge about them was destroyed under their influence.

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