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What are the Different Types of Plants to Use in a Tuscan Garden?

Tuscan gardens are a symphony of textures and hues, featuring hardy evergreens, aromatic herbs, and silvery foliage. Cypress trees, lavender, rosemary, and sage are quintessential, creating a sensory delight and a Mediterranean vibe. Olive trees and grapevines add authenticity. Curious about crafting your own Tuscan paradise? Discover which plants will transport you to the rolling hills of Italy. What will you plant first?
Margo Steele
Margo Steele

Tuscany, in the central part of Italy, is famous for its great natural beauty. Blessed by a benevolent climate, it is home to a large number of beautiful and useful plants. Fruit trees and evergreen trees and shrubs are characteristic of a Tuscan garden, as are cooking herbs and multitudes of colorful flowers and climbing vines. When planning a new garden or renovating an old one, a Tuscan theme is easy to achieve with plants that are available from local nurseries or home centers.

Italian cypress trees and evergreen shrubs, such as juniper and boxwood, should be featured in a Tuscan garden. Tall, slender Italian cypress trees can be tucked in almost anywhere. Even courtyard gardens have room for them because they can grow against a wall or fence. A row of Italian cypress trees across the back of the property or down a side boundary will afford privacy and noise control while firmly establishing a Tuscan theme.

Many people grow basil and other herbs in a Tuscan garden.
Many people grow basil and other herbs in a Tuscan garden.

Fruit trees are common in a Tuscan garden, especially citrus varieties. A local garden center can offer advice on selecting the correct variety for the area. If citrus trees are not an option, substitute fruit trees that grow well in the area; any type of fruit tree will provide the Tuscan look and ambiance. Residents of warm planting zones can consider planting one or two olive trees which are staples of Tuscan gardens. They require weather similar to their native Mediterranean regions.

Olive trees are quite common in Tuscan gardens.
Olive trees are quite common in Tuscan gardens.

Herbs are signature elements of a Tuscan garden. Number one on the list is fragrant rosemary, which seasons so many savory dishes. An attractive evergreen shrub with needles similar to those of a pine tree, rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) will grow three to five feet tall and can spread out to a similar width. Rosemary is easy to grow and drought tolerant, which makes it an ideal choice for a novice gardener. A patch devoted to companion herbs basil, oregano and thyme will reinforce the garden’s Tuscan feel while providing useful seasonings for the cook.

Any flowering vines will contribute color and casual charm to a Tuscan garden landscape, but wisteria, bougainvillea and climbing roses are particularly good choices. Old World gardens are filled to overflowing with vines and flowers climbing on trellises, arbors and pergolas and the houses themselves. Select hardy varieties — preferably a few fragrant ones — and plant with abandon. Exuberance and a touch of horticultural chaos will add to the lush look that captures the vibrant spirit of a Tuscan garden.

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Discussion Comments


@KoiwiGal - The sensory aspects of a Tuscan garden are wonderful for more than just people who no longer have their eyesight. And they look gorgeous as well. I'm particularly fond of the field of wildflowers, including poppies which might be included in Tuscan themed gardens that have enough space.

But I also like the fact that you can plan your whole Tuscan garden around cooking and still have a gorgeous looking place to hang out in the evenings.

The herbs and the fruit trees are lovely of course, but you can also plan to include enough olives to make some oil, or table grapes, or certain vegetables like artichokes (which also provide a beautiful flower if they are allowed to go to seed).


A Tuscan garden is the perfect theme for a blind garden, since many of the possible plants are tactile, edible and lushly scented.

They also attract bees and birds which can even add an audible element to your garden.

There aren't huge numbers of totally blind people in developed countries now, as medicine is advanced enough to treat many of the traditional ailments which can steal sight.

But people can still lose their sight as they grow older, or from complications from various diseases like diabetes.

So I can imagine a blind garden would be more than suitable for places like hospitals or rest homes.

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    • Many people grow basil and other herbs in a Tuscan garden.
      By: Barbara Pheby
      Many people grow basil and other herbs in a Tuscan garden.
    • Olive trees are quite common in Tuscan gardens.
      Olive trees are quite common in Tuscan gardens.