Flower Watching On My European Vacation

When gardeners vacation, they are excited to see flowers and plants they don’t normally see in their own backyards. If you are accustomed to seeing petunias, geraniums and marigolds, when you spot a tropical hibiscus or bougainvillea, you grab your camera and click away.

Recently, I was fortunate enough to take a big trip with my wife to the Mediterranean Sea, an anniversary cruise, visiting many ports and Old World cities.

On the cruise ship, we were surrounded by beautiful floral arrangements, and on land, we were treated to even more flowers.

During one stop, others took pictures of an old church while this flower guy snapped pictures of a lemon tree full of fruit in an abandoned lot next door.

In Verona, Italy, while most tourists’ attention were glued to Juliet’s Balcony, I noted the varieties of ivies, vines and tropical greenery surrounding the scene and answered questions from other tourists from other countries asking, “I wonder what kind of flower that is?” Or, “Wow, look at that vine, I wonder if it grows in Vancouver?”

Other travelers on our excursions soon sought out my knowledge of all things flora to enhance their (and my) sightseeing experience.

I appreciated local guides pointing out area highlights, but my focus was on flowers and plants, and how they related to the area, not only economically, but also historically.

Tourism brings in millions of dollars to these destinations, and the beauty of the landscape is part of the equation.

I especially enjoyed seeing how Europeans incorporate flowers into their everyday lives. At the flower markets we visited, the locals bought bouquets of fresh flowers along with their daily staple of bread and vegetables.

Window boxes overflow with ivy, geraniums and mandevilla vines, and tables at outdoor cafes are dotted with centerpieces, simple, but elegant, for the everyday alfresco diner.

The beautiful blooms enhance the European culinary experience and demonstrate the emotional impact and importance of flowers in their daily happiness.

I wish more Americans would take notice of this part of European culture and add flowers to their everyday life. Living with flowers is good for emotional health.

People feel more compassionate toward others, have less worry and anxiety, and feel less depressed when fresh cut flowers are present in the home, according to Harvard research.

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