Monday, February 29, 2016

Xerophytes at Madeira Botanical Garden

One of the many places that we make sure we visit whenever we are in Madeira is their botanical garden. If Monte is great for staging, size, and atmosphere (but lacking in variety except for cycads), the botanical garden is a great complement to it due to the variety of plants that can be found in it.

Spikies and colourful bedding galore! I've given up waiting for that moment when no one was ambling along the view so this is the least populated photo I've managed to take.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Morning in Funchal

A visit to Madeira won't be complete without spending some time looking around the charming and bustling capital of the island - Funchal.

For plant lovers (and tourists in general), one of the first port of call is city's main market Mercado Dos Lavradores. It can come across as very touristy but it still is a living and breathing market used by the locals which in turn attracts tourists to have a look at.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Boom, Snap, and Crash

Midway through our visit at Monte yesterday, dark clouds rolled in and torrential rain fell shortly afterwards.

Boom the sound of thunder and the heavens poured. Not entirely unusual for Madeira, one moment it is sunny, the next very rainy.

Fortunately there were plenty of spaces to seek shelter in until the rain has subsided (they rarely last long it seems on this island). Whilst in that particular shelter our views were obstructed by columns of towering tree ferns, which in a way I thought was great. Oh to have tree ferns as a cause of obstruction! Not soon after though we heard an audible snap.

And then a crash.

Then as the rain has subsided we checked out what made that noise. And there it was, a tree fern that snapped. 

Oh dear...
Close up of the snapped base and its stele
In a garden where towering tree ferns are aplenty I suppose this is a rather regular occurrence. Every so often a tree fern succumbs to the weight of heavy rain or gusts of wind, just like in the wild. Wandering through the garden you do see stumps of them around, some even hollowed and planted with orchids.

Where it originally stood
Stele seen from the stump
It's almost a shame to see it lying there, what a waste! But on the scheme of that garden it's just a 'drop in the ocean'. The tree fern that snapped is more likely to be Cyathea cooperi.

Will it re root if the trunk were to be buried and given TLC for quite some time? I'm sure I've heard one or two individuals before, claiming to have done such a thing with success, or so they claim. But unlike Dicksonia antarctica which re roots from nothing from a sawn trunk, the case is not the same for Cyathea. It's unlikely to carry on living without a root ball intact.

To be in an area where you can take tree ferns for granted...

Mark :-)

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Monte Palace Tropical Garden in Madeira

Back in Madeira for a much needed break from winter back home and to get a good dose of gardening inspiration for the coming spring ahead!

This is our fourth trip to this wonderful Portuguese island in the middle of the Atlantic ocean. Saying that, we haven't been since 2011, a good five years ago and yet it doesn't feel that long ago as our memories are still very vivid and very little has changed through the years.

Our first garden stop in the island is the spectacular Monte Palace Tropical Garden. It is 'one of the thirteen most spectacular gardens in the world' - so they say but it is easy enough to believe. Here is a selection of my favourite photos taken earlier today: