Flowers, succulents and croaks

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As spring arrives in the garden in our part of Scotland in this pre-Easter week, and flowers and shrubs blaze out in sunny yellows, joyous pinks and creamy whites, I think back to our visit a few weeks ago to the Botanic Garden in Funchal, Madeira.

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A lovely afternoon for a stroll amongst flowers and trees.

It was officially still winter in Madeira (though difficult to remember that given the mild weather) so we couldn’t expect vast arrays of flowers blooming their hearts out. But we weren’t disappointed by what we did see. There were plenty beds of flowers in bloom. This is, after all, a climate where bananas grow outside all year round and where the temperature rarely dips below 14°F even at night.

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Frilly trunks and an array of leaf shapes.

The Botanic Garden, like most things on Madeira, clings to a steep hillside. It borders the ravine down which fire raged during the bad forest fires in summer 2016. So it was fascinating, and heartening, to see blackened tree trunks with fresh new growth sprouting from the tops.

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Even after many month the ravages of the fires are still visible, and in may places will be for decades. You can just make out the cable car that runs from the waterfront to Monte.

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Blackened trunks, though happily these trees have survived to tell the tale. Others obviously weren’t so fortunate.

Much underplanting looked relatively new, so what was there was most probably also a victim of the fires, as was the nearby orchid garden which was sadly destroyed. Orchids are now readily and cheaply available in supermarkets here, but there’s something glorious about seeing them grow outside during months which, to us, mean short days and freezing temperatures.

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From one edge of the garden you get a grand view of one of the viaducts and tunnels which carry the main roads around the island.

I photographed the geometric area of planting in ruby reds and lime greens that all garden visitors snap, the photo which invariably appears in brochures, on websites and TripAdvisor.

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Winter but not as we in Scotland know it.

We passed on a path above and didn’t go down to try and identify the plants. Whatever they are, they make quite a stunning, and colourful, design against the backdrop of the Atlantic Ocean.

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The colour comes not from flowers but from leaves.

A favourite part for me was the area with succulents.

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Even here there were plants flowering in unusual colours.

I loved their size, the varied leaf shapes and often twisted forms of plants that I’ve only previously known as house plants, or rather succulents, prone to death by over-watering and chilly draughts, or growing leggy and sparse in search of Mediterranean sun.

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You can see how dry the ground looks due to lack of rain.

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You can judge from the man in the red shirt how tall these cactus are.

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These always remind me of Westerns watched when young on TV.

Wandering around the garden is a lovely relaxing way to spend an afternoon, though the bus journey is fairly hair-raising with narrow roads and hairpin bends, but the drivers are used to it.

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Lots of industrious spiders here obviously.

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Trapped in spiders’ webs, I assumed these were seed pods from trees, but I read recently about baby spiders congregating in webs. Don’t see any legs, though, so maybe they are seed pods or dead leaves. Anyone know?

Before leaving don’t forget to do as husband and I did and enjoy a half bottle of white wine and a couple of generous slices of delicious cake at the café while listening to the croaking of frogs in nearby ponds and taking in a view across Funchal to the ocean.

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Blissful way to round off the afternoon.

And then a pitstop before making our way to the bus stop.

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Male and female toilets were separate, but wash hand basins were all in this glass-fronted area looking out over the garden.

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Some privacy is provided by these rampant grasses.

And in case you thought I’d forgotten about the croaks, then this was one fine frog specimen in one of the ponds. Maybe if I’d kissed him he would have turned into a prince!

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Unbelievable how much noise they make.

Lovely afternoon amongst plants.

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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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2 Responses to Flowers, succulents and croaks

  1. carol1945 says:

    I love all these photos. I am now using the Reader rather than email for WordPress. I still really do not know how to navigate it very well. I have been missing you, and had to scroll through a bunch to find you. How are you?

    • Hi Carol, I’ve been quite busy catching up after being away. Things in the UK are quite exciting what with Brexit and Scotland being dragged from the EU against its will, and now a surprise general election which will run through the local government elections. So lots to keep abreast of on Twitter which I’ve just recently started using.

      Still more stuff to post about Madeira, so keep a look out. Hope all is well with you.

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