In a Vase on Monday. The Colours of Corsica.

I have been on a blogging break for a couple of weeks in Corsica. Up in the mountains where we were staying there were beautiful views but no Wifi. I posted September’s GBFD  which I had prepared in advance, but I haven’t been able to to reply to anyone or catch up with blogs.

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So we did lots of reading on the balcony and spent lots of time enjoying the incredible views, swimming , walking and eating, of course.


I can never resist a jug and the one I bought and used for my arrangement captures the colour of the Mediterranean beautifully. I love how the sea is turquoise in the shallows, darkening to lapis lazuli as it gets deeper. In the late afternoon it takes on a sheen of mother- of- pearl. The one colour it is not, is wine- dark as Homer described it. This has puzzled scholars for centuries; were the Greeks collectively colour blind, or is it because there was no word for blue? If you have no word for a colour are you unable to perceive it?

I waited ages for this one swimmer to move so that I would have an uninterrupted sea photo. She had clearly decided to spend the whole afternoon wallowing there and who can blame her?
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I digress; here is my Corsican vase filled with the brightest colours I could find.

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The first thing you notice when you step off the plane in Corsica is the wonderful scents of the maquis. When Napoleon Bonaparte was in exile on the remote island of St Helena he imagined he could smell the scents of the maquis of his homeland.
It is made up of the silvery-leaved herbs such as the the curry plant, Helichrysum italicum, cistus, rosemary, fennel and many other beautiful herbs.

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The flowering period for the maquis is June but all over the island the yellow-flowered Inula viscosa is in bloom in September with its strange scent.

Inula viscosa

Inula viscosa

To give a taste of the fragrant Corsican herbs, I used curly Artemesia schmidtiana, Santolina, Oreganum laevigatum ‘Herrenhausen’ and Rosemary. A few heads of feathery Pennisetum villosum added to the effect. The bright coloured flowers are the colours you see in gardens in Corsica, not growing wild of course. I used some dark blue Caryopteris x clandonensis, Heliopsis helianthoides, dahlias, zinnias coreopsis, marigold, eccremocarpus and the yellow, shiny bells of Clematis tangutica.

I will finish with a couple of Corsican butterflies. There are so many beautiful ones native to the island. The first is the Corsican Swallowtail, Papilio hospiton . It has lost a bit of its tail with the distinctive red dot. I am not sure of the second one, I wonder if anyone can identify it?

Papilio hospiton

Papilio hospiton

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Thank you Cathy for hosting In a a Vase on Monday. I am now going to see what she and everyone else has been up to in their gardens whilst I was away. It may take a while to catch up with everybody.

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54 Responses to In a Vase on Monday. The Colours of Corsica.

  1. snowbird says:

    Lucky you getting to stay in such a beautiful place, I just love the mountains, especially in that first pic. It sounds like you had a terrific time!
    Your corsican vase is a beautiful shade of blue and the vibrant plants set it off perfectly.xxx

  2. Isn’t it amazing how we still want to fill a vase even when we are on vacation…what a wonderful spot and vase.

  3. Christina says:

    I thought you might be away at the moment. I’ve never visited Corsica it looks like I should! I’m sure you noticed that in your images of the natural planting that many of the shrubs have been moulded and rounded by the wind in just the way I want my garden to be. I love the colour of your new vase, not easy to describe so perhaps one can forgive Holmer. I remember Rick Stein quoting this too, I think it was either very early morning or just before dusk, anyway he thought the colourful of the sea was wine-like!

  4. Gillian says:

    Looks like you had a wonderful holiday. Having a break from all technology/wifi etc. is good for you now and again isn’t it? Your new vase and bright flowers are gorgeous.

    • Chloris says:

      It is lovely to have a complete break, we could get intermittent WiFi if we hung over the edge of the balcony but it was much more relaxing to forget about it and read instead.

  5. bittster says:

    You have both an excellent vase and a wonderful excuse (not that one is needed).
    A new vase with a story behind it is always a nice thing, and the setting for your vacation looks fantastic. Glad to have you back though!

  6. Kris P says:

    What a wonderful way to spend a holiday, Chloris! I love your floral and foliage homage to Corsica, especially the Artemesia, which is the first thing that attracted my eye when I saw your vase. Best wishes with re-entry into the blogosphere.

  7. rusty duck says:

    Well that looks utterly divine. Glad you had a wonderful break 🙂

  8. Cathy says:

    You have captured that Mediterranean look perfectly with the vivid colours, silvery foliage and the blue of the sea itself – wonderful!

  9. mattb325 says:

    What a lovely looking spot – lucky you! Those mountains make a wonderfully dramatic backdrop

  10. Corsica! Delightful! And it’s perhaps a good thing that you took a break from the Internet and computers. I’ve been a little sporadic with my posts and blog visits lately, too, because we’ve had an extended patch of perfect weather and I don’t want to miss it! Anyway, your vacation spot looks fabulous. The vase arrangement has the bright colors and beautiful ceramic pot look that I find most attractive. The Swallowtail looks very similar to the North American Tiger Swalowtail, and the other butterfly reminds me of a Painted Lady. Lovely images, all around!

  11. Cathy says:

    Amazing views indeed. Glad you were quiet because of holidaying and nothing untoward. Personally, I am with Homer on wine-dark as an adjective – to me it suggests a deepness both of colour and physical space, something you can immerse yourself in as you would if you were enjoying a pleasant glass of wine, or a warm sea, or a colour so deep you could not see through it… so who said anything about blue…? But anyway, your vase… it seems to sum up all the heat and colour and brightness of your holiday, but recreated from the pleasures of your own garden back home. Thanks for sharing

    • Chloris says:

      I see what you mean, wine dark does suggest depth but still I don’ t feel it is the right word to describe that particular shade of glorious blue.

      • Cathy says:

        Ah, but would people still be discussing the merits of the poem all these years later if he just called the sea ‘a glorious blue’….? 😉

  12. Welcome back . Corsica is looking very inviting in your photographs. The balcony and it’s view are rather wonderful. . I had forgotten how mountainous the island is and reading about the scent on the air makes me want to go back. Good vase too!

    • Chloris says:

      You have been too! It is so beautiful, I have never been before and I was bowled over . Where did you stay on the island? We were in a village called Corbara near Ile Rousse in the North West.

      • We visited more than 20 years ago and loved the rugged landscape. We stayed on the outskirts of Calvi and I recollect lots of rather sharply dressed men in kepi hats. I have no idea if the foreign legion are still based there?
        We should like to go back but fear it maybe too euro zone these days.

  13. homeslip says:

    Looks like you had a wonderful time. We took the children back in May 2001 and in those days you couldn’t fly direct so we had the fun of getting across Paris with luggage and a five and seven year old. The two hour drive from the airport to Piana was terrifiying and I’m used to coastal mountainous driving, just not with tired hungry children in the back. Eventually we made it to our hotel at Les Roches Rouges which was superb and we had the best holiday: delicious food, wonderful butterflies and flowers (experts were in residence in the hotel which made for an interesting week), siestas and lazy afternoons on the beach. We must go again and you’ve given me an idea for an October holiday, if we can find the time! I love your blue pottery vase and its bright flowers.

    • Chloris says:

      I dodn’ t realise that you couldn’ t fly direct in 2001. We flew to Ajaccio and stayed in a village near Ile Rousse in the north west. We loved the fact that we didn’ t hear an English voice the whole time we were there. The roads are really scary and the Corsicans love to overtake on a blind bend. But what a beautiful island.

  14. Hannah says:

    What a lovely warm island getaway, it looks like scenes out of a movie or novel, so picturesque. I looked up the Vanessa butterflies, and yours is V. cardui, the Painted Lady, which I didn’t know is the world’s most widely distributed butterfly! I love your blue jug you found, what a marvelous memento. Your flowers are such pretty colors, I particularly like the coral Zinnia. The Artemesia and other silvery plants are a great accompaniement. I’m looking for some for next year.

  15. pbmgarden says:

    Have a wonderful holiday. The flowers are amazing and wow–I love the zing of that blue vase.

  16. I’ve always wanted to go to Corsica, and I want to even more now. If they have beautiful ceramics, and in particular jugs, then that’s decided. I equally love them, for flowers, in the kitchen, as a stand alone ornament….whatever. Thanks for sharing your photos; I can almost smell those herbs from here!

  17. Julie says:

    What a lovely jug, I hadn’t heard the term Maquis, you make it sound so wonderful, I’d like to go to Corsica just to smell the fragrance. Interesting how colour is interpreted, I wonder what time of year Homer was there and maybe he witnessed times when a particular hue was cast. But I still cant imagine a wine colour. You have me wishing I was more widely read this morning, as always your posts are thought provoking and fun to read.

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Julie, what a lovely thing to say. I always enjoy your posts, you are so knowledgeable about wild life and insects and your photography is stunning.

  18. What an evocative post, you capture the spirit of the island so well that reading it I almost felt I was there again. The vase is a lovely moments of a wonderful holiday, the images of your lovely vase of local flowers is better than a postcard. What fun!

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Kate and you have been too. It is surprising how many people have been. I didn’t hear a single English voice whilst I was there. Sarah at Homeslip said you couldn’ t even fly direct when she went in 2001. She had to go via Paris.

  19. Sam says:

    Late summer sunshine in the Med is heavenly. I can almost smell the breeze from your evocative words. I love the colour of your jug and the lovely arrangement. Glad you had a good holiday.

  20. Well, now I want to go to Corsica, it looks fabulous, still ruminating about the wine dark sea…………

    • Chloris says:

      Corsica is a wonderful place to visit. But wine dark sea? No, it is very, very blue.

      • I have given this sea color thing some thought. Do you remember Hurricane Sandy of a couple years ago – it went by here about 200 miles offshore, I think. The sea was ominously dark and if the light had been right – probably wine dark. The only time I have seen it like that.

  21. Flighty says:

    I’d guessed that you were away as you had been blogging or commenting. A most enjoyable post and lovely pictures. It certainly looks like a wonderful place to visit. xx

  22. gardenfancyblog says:

    What an exotic setting and bouquet! It sounds like you have enjoyed a wonderful vacation in Corsica — thanks for sharing your experiences with us. -Beth

  23. Tina says:

    Looks like a gorgeous place to visit–glad you had such a good time. Beautiful photos and I’ll second Beth at Plant Postings-the second butterfly looks like a Painted Lady, Vanessa cardui. Yours might be a slightly different species. Insects do that.

    • Chloris says:

      Indeed it is a Painted Lady, I should have recognised it. Corsica does have its own butterflies but as you say the Painted Lady appears in many different countries.

  24. I love the smell of maquis. I’ve visited Corsica once and remember bringing back a huge bag of herbs. I was very sorry when I ran out. Hope that you had a lovely time there.

  25. Peter/)utlaw says:

    I’m so glad you enjoyed your time in Corsica. Autumn here has bought cold nights and viewing your pictures and beautiful arrangement made me feel warmer! Thanks for that.

  26. How beautiful!! I will have to add Corsica to my list of places I want to visit. 🙂

  27. Chloris says:

    I can certainly recommend it if you like wild mountainous places and blue, blue sea.

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