Orchids and other wild flowers

Ermita del Fraile and the cortijo with the Sierra Nevada in the distance

Ermita del Fraile and the cortijo with the Sierra Nevada in the distance

Today we walked along the path from the old gold mines, Minas de Avalan, that hugs the mountainside overlooking Cortijo del Fraile. It has been a beautiful, sunny day and we could clearly see, behind the ruins of the old ermita, the snow-capped peaks of the Sierra Nevada in the distance.
The path with wild thyme, rosemary and lavender  growing alongside

The path with wild thyme, rosemary and lavender growing alongside

This is one of the best walks for observing wild flowers in the Parque Natural de Cabo de Gata, but spring is not as advanced here at this altitude as it is in the valleys and ramblas.
Flower of the white gum cistus

Flower of the white gum cistus

Pink cistus

Pink cistus

Soon, the shrubs of cistus which grow in profusion along the path will be full of white and pink flowers. We saw only a few blooms, but wild thyme, rosemary and lavender are all in flower, making this walk a very fragrant one.
Arenaria

Arenaria

The pretty white flowers of arenaria can also be found up here. This plant likes altitude and shade.
Sawfly orchid in the shade

Sawfly orchid in the shade

The wild orchids, though, are the botanist’s delight and we found quite a few splendid examples of sawfly orchids.
Sawfly orchid amongst the grasses

Sawfly orchid amongst the grasses

However, these orchids are often difficult to spot and hard to photograph as they tend to hide amongst the grasses and are often in shade.
Mirror orchid

Mirror orchid

Lower down near the mine workings we found some tiny mirror orchids.
Barlia robertiana sand its habitat

Barlia robertiana sand its habitat

Also along the path, near the old mine workings, are some wonderful specimens of the largest of the orchids, Barlia robertiana. This is spectacular example.
The flowers of Barlia robertiana

The flowers of Barlia robertiana

The photographs show both its flowers and its habitat.

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About Margaret Merry

I grew up in Falmouth, Cornwall, England where, after leaving Falmouth High School, I spent a year at Falmouth School of Art. Then followed three years at Hornsey College of Art in London where I obtained a Diploma in Art and Design. I then spent a post-graduate year at the West of England College of Art in Bristol where I gained an Art Teacher?s Diploma and a Certificate in Education of the University of Bristol. I lived and worked in Truro for over 30 years and became one of Cornwall's most popular artists. My paintings have been exhibited in New York, Tokyo, Paris and London and have been bought by collectors from all over the world. I have published 4 books which became local bestsellers - 'The Natural History of a Westcountry City', 'Margaret Merry's Cornish Garden Sketchbook', 'Sea & Sail' and 'Tidal Reaches'. In 2002 I moved to Spain and now live in the little coastal village of Las Negras in the heart of the Parque Natural de Cabo de Gata. I now get my inspiration from the dramatic scenery of Andalucia and its old cities, towns and villages which I usually capture in watercolour. I also enjoy figurative art, particularly nudes and dancers. For these paintings I use artists' soft pastels. I have written and illustrated 3 children's books - The Wise Old Boar, The Lonely Digger and The Adventure of Princess The Pony - which have been published in the USA.
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