wildflower_meadow_Andalucia
Wildflower meadow Andalucia

Wildlfowers are the glory of rural Andalucia; in May, lavishly spread by nature’s hand across every bit of waste ground, threaded through every hamlet, they are a beautiful and uplifting sight.

 

When my friend Kate told me the wild flowers in southern Spain would be spectacular in May I was delighted – but didn’t really believe her!  Now I know the truth of that statement and this month I want to share what I saw with you: sit back and feast your eyes!

In May the rivers are still flowing, cascading from the hillsides and feeding into smaller streams, trickling along cunningly-designed dykes and water courses to irrigate the farmland. 

This annual watery abundance, and the warmer weather, together trigger the flowers into life.

Even around the more intensively-farmed areas we saw endless banks and drifts of wildflowers.

Sometimes the simple red poppies we associate with cornfields, or mixed drifts of purples, yellows and whites making an endlessly-repeated and ever-fresh drapery.

Cornfield_poppies_Andalucia
Cornfield poppies Andalucia
Rural_farmhouse_Andalucia
Rural farmhouse Andalucia

In the little villages, daisies, scabious and vetches flow every where along the verges and roadsides, seemingly completely unregarded by anyone except us.

We received quite a few curious looks from local people as we ambled along the lanes, exclaiming out loud about the extraordinary fecundity of this rural countryside.

 A waving crowd of flowery onlookers cheers you on your way along every sendero and footpat

Yellow is a particular feature of the spring flowers here; this acts like a neon hamburger sign to hungry pollinating insects that there is pollen and nectar to be had! Hues from subtle palest primrose to sun-strong yellow.

Wildflower_tolpis-barbata_Andalucia
Wildflower tolpis barbata Andalucia
Wildflower_lane_Andalucia
Wildflower lane Andalucia

The south-west corner of Andalucia can be quite windy at times; breezes ripple through the flowers and grasses, making them shiver with delight.

Plants we know well in the UK are transformed into their better selves – cardoons for example (cynara cardunculus) with their magnificent, electric-blue flower heads 20cm across. Sprawling clover deep blood-red, beautiful wild gladioli, and the superb little dwarf Morning Glory (convolvulus tricolor).

Wildflower_convolvulus-tricolor_Andalucia
Wildflower convolvulus tricolor Andalucia
Wildflower_cynara-cardunculus_Andalucia
Wildflower cynara cardunculus Andalucia
Wildflower_aristolochia-baetica_Andalucia
Wildflower aristolochia baetica Andalucia

Other plants are festooned with convolvulus or the pretty single form of sweetbriar – the native wild rose.  

In shadier spots, climbing plants reach up into the branches of shrubs in the many copses and thickets. I was fascinated by birthwort (aristolochia baetica) with its deep purple, poison-vase flowers.

Wildflower_rosa-rubiginosa_Andalucia
Wildflower rosa rubiginosa Andalucia

And of course myriads of insects are enthralled and nourished by the nectar and pollen from these plants.  We saw some excitingly large insects including the thumb-long red-striped oil beetle which drags its body behind powerful forelegs.  One afternoon the most enormous cricket, 8cm long. Ianded on me – presumably by accident!  

Red-striped-oil-beetle_Andalucia

Red-striped oil beetle Andalucia

Bee-on-wildflower_galactites-tormentosa_Andalucia

Bee on wildflower galactites tormentosa Andalucia

Walking one afternoon by the sea at Cape Trafalgar, we saw a very different array of flowers adapted to the salty and stringent conditions of the sand dunes.

Broomrapes in their sombre colours, sea thrift (armeria), eryngium maritima and pretty malcolmia littoria briefly thrive here.

Wildflowers_sand-dunes_Andalucia
Wildflowers sand dunes Andalucia
Wildflower_malcolmia-littorea_Andalucia
wildflower malcolmia littorea Andalucia
Wildflower_eryngium-maritima_Andalucia
Wildflower eryngium maritima Andalucia

Walking one afternoon by the sea at Cape Trafalgar, we saw a very different array of flowers adapted to the salty and stringent conditions of the sand dunes.

Broomrapes in their sombre colours, sea thrift (armeria), eryngium maritima and pretty malcolmia littoria briefly thrive here.

Horse_meadow_Andalucia
Horse meadow Andalucia

Upland walks feature many plants familiar to us such as Queen Anne’s Lace,  bright convolvulus and beautiful thistles.  We saw the pretty rose-red flowers of wild gladiolus just beginning to show themselves, and patches of blue nigella, so much larger and more vibrant than our gentler-hued Love-in-a-Mist. 

Wildflower_antirrhinum_Andalucia
Wildflower antirrhinum Andalucia
Wildflower_nigella_Andalucia
Wildflower nigella Andalucia

Upland walks feature many plants familiar to us such as Queen Anne’s Lace,  bright convolvulus and beautiful thistles.  We saw the pretty rose-red flowers of wild gladiolus just beginning to show themselves, and patches of blue nigella, so much larger and more vibrant than our gentler-hued Love-in-a-Mist. 

Meadow-view_rural_Andalucia
Meadow view rural Andalucia

See for yourself

Early May is the best time for these flowers.  There is a later bouquet of high-summer flowers, and of course the spring display is slightly later in the upland areas, but for sheer fecundity and colour, with a background of lush spring greenery, this brief moment in May is for me the highlight of the flowering year.

Hopefully I’ve correctly identified the flowers shown here!   There are some online resources available to help you with your wildflower-naming, and the little ‘Wildflowers of Spain’ booklets (vols1-3) by Clive Innes are also useful.

 

To enjoy more armchair holiday blogs you may like browse our musings featuring  Keukenhof in Holland, the beautiful island of Madeira or, a bit closer to home in rural Cumbria, Lowther Castle.  

 

If you would like us to bring new inspiration to your garden, do contact us or complete our Garden Questionnaire

Wildflower_nigella_Andalucia

Wildflower nigella Andalucia

Wildflower_pallensis-spinosa_Andalucia
Wildflower pallensis-spinosa Andalucia
Wildflower_-anchusa-azurea_Andalucia]

Wildflower anchusa-azurea Andalucia

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