Blooming cheerful

IMG_6685In case my view of Madeira’s mountains have given the impression the island is austere and bleak, it is far from it. And although we were there in December a surprising number of plants were flowering in bright, cheerful colours.

Eyeing you up

It does look like an exotic bird strutting around, eyeing up the passers-by.

Have a banana

Bananas growing in our hotel garden.

Bird of paradise flowers bloomed abundantly including in our hotel garden (where bananas were also growing), and the local market was radiant with containers of them. We almost expected these distinctive flowers to flap their petals and utter parrot-like squawks as we passed.

Yellow ochre trumpet

Not sure what this is. Might it be a datura? Anyone know?

Hydrangeas are said to be plentiful. Very probably. But beyond several bushes, with flowers fading, in the garden of our hotel, I wasn’t aware of other plants, though without their distinctive flowers I probably wouldn’t have noticed theRed and purple

The hydrangeas were really finished flowering but I found this flowerhead with wonderful colours.

Flowers of the agapanthus, though the strap-like leaves of these pest-hardy perennials can be seen everywhere, were few and far between. The wrong season, no doubt. We were told they had been copiously planted beside roads and on verges around the island as their proliferous, deep roots and their invasive habit bind the earth and stop it leaching away in rain, leaving road edges vulnerable to crumbling. Not what is wanted in roads clinging to mountainsides. So a useful as well as a beautiful plant, though I was surprised to learn that in some countries agapanthus is classed as an environmental weed.

Blue Agapanthus

I love these. With much TLC we have even managed to get a few to flower in our garden.

Red hot stuff, Madeira style

I think these are Red Hot Pokers, though looking at the leaves perhaps not. These grow in most parts of Madeira too.

Orchids, which in Scotland are quite definitely house or hot-house plants, grew in profusion in the garden at Monte, and we also saw a wonderful display in a sheltered area of a hotel garden — and this was in December. It seemed unbelievable to us.


Orchids growing at Monte

Though, given the Japanese nature of the garden, with its red bridges and structures, the orchids didn’t seem totally at home.

Pink camellias

Camelias to me have an air of the exotic though they did grow in our garden in Argyll.

A purple by any other name

The nameless but nice flowers.

Blue history

Not a flower but adding colour to the garden where the walls were decorated with azulejos covering the history and culture of the island.

Our December holiday obviously only provided a hint of Madeira’s floral treasures. In conversation with a member of the travel agent staff, she told us that in May the whole island bursts into a riot of colour and perfume. One year, she bet a friend she could find her way from the hotel where she worked to her home blindfolded (though accompanied by her friend), using the heady scent of flowers and shrubs to guide her. She won the bet.

Blowing their horns

Trumpets at the ready.

White trumpet

Pristine white tinged with green light filtering through trees.

Palm branches against the sky

A filigree canopy of greenery.

Those of you who stay in warmer places will probably recognise many of these flowers, but I stay in an area where only the hardiest of plants survive. The winter jasmine has flowered profusely this winter as, so far, rain has supplanted the usual frosts and snow. But beyond that we have the green of conifers, the russets of beech hedges, but nothing in the way of flowers until the aconites and snowdrops decide to peek through.

trees and pots and flowers

A scene to raise the heartbeats – thousand year old olive trees, pots and flowers.

So seeing such a plethora of bright blooms on holiday is enormously cheering. Blooming cheerful, in fact.


About jingsandthings

I am me. What do I like? Colour Shapes Textures Paintings, photographs, sculptures, woven tapestries, wonderful materials. The love of materials probably comes from my father who was a textile buyer, and I grew up hearing the names of mills and manufacturers which sounded magical and enticing. Glass in all its soft and vibrant colours and flowing shapes, even sixties glass which makes its own proud statement. A book I can immerse myself in. Meals with family or friends with lots of chat and laughter (and probably a bottle or two of wine). The occasional trip abroad to experience the sights, sounds, food, conversation, quality of light and warmth of other countries. To revel in differences and be amazed by similarities. I like to create and to experience, to try and to achieve. And then there are words – read, heard, written at my keyboard, or scrawled on sticky notes, or along the edges of dog-eared supermarket receipts excavated from the unexplored nooks of my handbag. What do I dislike? Cold Snow Bad design Fast food Condescension
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6 Responses to Blooming cheerful

  1. bebs1 says:

    Oh wow, I love all the flowers! They must have a climate like Southern California. So colorful but I don’t know the name of the plant you are wondering about either.

    • The climate might well be like California’s. Must be great to have little snow and cold weather. On a cheerful note, though, our snowdrops are making an appearance — always a welcome sight that holds out thoughts of spring.

  2. carolee1945 says:

    I have thoroughly enjoyed how you have dished out Madeira to us in small doses. I was simply amazed by the Christmas tree made out of madeira wine bottles in a post of yours way back. It really stayed in my head. Then we had more wonderful photos of this lovely place, and now today, even more. Your photo of the filigree canopy of greenery is just beautiful, and I really like your use of the word “filigree” — it captures the feeling of those overhead ferns. (are they tree ferns??)

    • So glad you liked the Madeira stuff. This time of year for me is always a bit of a blank. Cold and wet, nothing much to do or places to go so no photographs to take. So it’s good to have had the holiday photos. Not sure whether the ferns were tree ferns or some kind of palms or a mixture. Not much good on tropical vegetation but I did like the delicate pattern against the sky. I once had a silver filigree bracelet and I suppose it reminded me of that.

  3. Dorothy, these flowers and trees are so gorgeous! You must have been in heaven! Our home base is on the US Atlantic coast in Georgia and we’re fortunate to have all these flowering plants (and for us the seasonal allergies that come with them). When April and May roll around the air is totally saturated with their lovely scents. I have so enjoyed your posts on Madeira, and thanks ot you we plan to work it into our travel plans this year. ~Terri

    • Thank you, Terri. I realise others will be fortunate to live with these plants, but they were such a welcome sight for my husband and I on our brief escape from the cold wet weather here. Even in summer most of these plants wouldn’t grow here, though some do on the west coast of Scotland. One of the delights for us of a holiday during the winter months is warmer weather and the sights and vegetation that go with that. The food, too, of course. Hope you make it to Madeira.

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