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