Kew Gardens Annual Botany Field Trip

In the rambla below our house

In the rambla below our house

Twenty-five years ago we organised the first annual field trip to the Parque Natural de Cabo de Gata for the professors and students of the Department of Botany at Reading University and Kew Gardens. Although the group is now only from Kew, they have returned every year since, staying in Las Negras, to study the wonderful flora in our Parque Natural.
Further up the rambla

Further up the rambla

On their first day they always walk up the rambla to Las Hortichuelas and we joined them as they passed below our house. Here, there is a great variety of interesting plants, including some which are found only in this area.
Umbelifer

Umbelifer

The more common plants include this giant yellow umbelifer.It favours dry, stony habitats.
Palmito flowers

Palmito flowers

The botanists were pleased to find a palmito in flower. The yellow blossoms attract insects into the centre of the plant.
Studying the flora

Studying the flora

Mediterranean tarantula

Mediterranean tarantula

Along the rambla, I noticed the burrow of a Mediterranean tarantula. Typically, it was surrounded by a skillfully constructed fence of fragments of vegetation and small stones. By inserting a stem of dried grass, I was able to coax the inhabitant, which defends its territory vigorously, out of its hole.
Lavandula stoechas

Lavandula stoechas

Flowers of lavandula stoechas

Flowers of lavandula stoechas

The strongly-scented Lavandula stoechas grows in profusion along the rambla. It has deep purple flowers, but here is a pink variety – not a colour variation, but a species in its own right. Kew Gardens have developed a variety in a lovely, smoky mauve called Kew Red.
White-flowered cistus

White-flowered cistus

After a while, we left the rambla and scrambled up the mountainside where a glorious display of white-flowered cistus cascaded down the rocky slopes.
Gladioli

Gladioli

We found several wild gladioli flowering here and ….
Caralluma europaea

Caralluma europaea

…. most exciting of all, an excellent example of the very rare and elusive Caralluma europaea and, for the first time, I was able to see one actually in flower.
Caralluma europaea

Caralluma europaea

This curious plant mimics not only cactus, but also its long, narrow fruits are identical in every way to those of the cornical bush.
Floe de plata

Floe de plata

The Spanish call this low-growing, spreading plant ‘flor de plata’ (silver plant).
Wild Flowers of eastern Andalucia

Wild Flowers of eastern Andalucia

The botanist, Sarah Ball, in the centre of the first photo has just published this invaluable field guide to the flora of Eastern Andalucia. You can buy a copy from http://www.nhbs.com/wild_flowers_of_eastern_andalucia_tefno_197184.html

Advertisements

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.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s