Glory in the flower

Florence is a city that celebrates all the seasons. In May, the weather moves immediately from the high spring of April to high summer. Daytime temperatures soar to 27C and stay there.

Right now, on the gently sloping hill around Piazza Michelangelo, with its spectacular views of the city, there is a glorious iris show. The annual event, first held in 1957, showcases thousands of specimen plants. Stone pathways lead past mounded beds exploding with the familiar blue, white, purple, and yellow blooms in various combinations but there’s also black and chocolate and a triple iris that’s as big as the late Queen Mum’s hat.

The prize-winners from other years have lyrical names – Honky Tonk Blues, Kilt Tilt, Babbling Brook, Spun Gold, Sable Night, Shipshape, Dream Lover, Before the Storm, Silverado, Pink Taffeta – from an alphabet of countries, Australia to the United States.

But there aren’t just iris. There’s also redbud and roses, a pond of pink water lilies, unusual orange poppies, bridal wreath, deutzia, columbine, wispy French tamarisk, and white rock cress so thick and prolific it almost forms a hedge. This is a garden that appeals to many senses: the sight of the colors, the smell of their perfume, the sound of trilling blackbirds, and the touch of warm sun and a light breeze on the skin.

Other smaller sites also offer their beauty. In the city, wisteria falls over walls and in the walled garden at the Palazzo del Vivarelli Colonna, there are lemons in abundance, purple and yellow pansies as well as azalea bushes in pink, red, and orange.
We enjoyed our stay in Florence and we’re happy to be home, close to family in Canada. But at times like these, when overnight temperatures fall to 4C and frost threatens our Toronto garden, you pine for Florence and its carefree climate.

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