Famous Flowers in Provence
Located in the South of France, the flowers of the Provence region have helped make artists such as Monet, Van Gogh and Cezanne famous. Also home to the vibrant, extensive Nice flower market, Provence is a popular destination for tourists and flower lovers. Because of its cool, mountainous Mediterranean climate, many wildflowers flourish in this area. Lavender is the most famous, but you'll find plenty of colorful blooms throughout the region, particularly in late spring to early summer.
The most well-known flower of Provence, lavender is featured in paintings by famous artists including Monet and Van Gogh. English lavender (Lavandula angustfolia), the classic lavender used in sachets and perfumes, and Spanish lavender (Lavandula stoechas), which has tall stalks and dark purple flowers, are two of the more prevalent species in the region. English lavender can grow to 4 feet and, according to the 1997 "Sunset National Garden Book," is the most widely painted species. Spanish lavender can grow to 3 feet and has large, showy blooms. Both bloom late spring to early summer.
Grape hyacinth (Muscari neglectum) and tassel hyacinth (Muscari comosum) both grow throughout Provence, particularly in olive groves and in vineyards. The grape species has stalks of about 1 foot with clusters of purple, grape-shaped blooms while the tassel species has a unique, branch-like flower that is green-brown near the bottom and purple on top. Both are started from bulbs, prefer full sun to light shade and regular watering. The grape hyacinth is the more popular and is available as a cut flower at flower markets throughout Provence.
Flanders Field Poppy
The poppy, which is prevalent in Monet's works, grows as a wildflower throughout Provence, providing a colorful backdrop in cool summer areas. The Flanders field or Shirley poppy (Papaver rhoeas) is available in a rainbow of colors, ranging from red to orange to white, and there also are bi-color varieties. These poppies grow to 5 feet and make good cut flowers. Poppies thrive in full sun in cool-summer locations and may be planted from seed in mid-spring.