these are the posts tagged ‘plants’:


pink echeveria

i don’t particularly like cactus, but succulents are a different story. there’s something very pleasing about their almost fractal beauty, and the thick and robust leaves. plus, i accidentally found out that we can actually grow them outdoors here (more or less easily) so i’ve started a little collection of sorts.

i’m learning about it as i go along, making mistakes and seeing what works. i don’t know if this interests anyone, but i thought i’d write about it now and then, in order to keep a record of our experiments.

first up, this echeveria “perle von nürnberg” (i think?) that i traded my parents for some cuttings of our passionfruit.

isn’t it pretty? it was almost dead when it came to me, but has since decided to grow enthusiastically in the center, and i think it might about to start flowering even!

i look forward to putting it in the garden once it gets a bit stronger, and maybe even try to propagate it at some point.

gum rock rose

these days, the hills of algarve are covered with the beautiful white flowers of esteva, or gum rock rose. everywhere you look, the landscape is peppered with an explosion of white dots!

the sticky bushes where they grow are tough and not much to look at, but the flowers are such delicate things, tissue-thin and blowing in the wind.

this is such a beautiful season!

salicornia

moving south and next to a salt marsh has introduced a dozen new species of animals and plants into our vocabulary. geckos and chameleons are cute, as are the skittish flamingos that eat all the pink algae in the salt ponds. but it’s not just new animals that inhabit these salty places, special plants too — like salicornia!

also called sea asparagus or pickleweed, salicornia is a halophyte, a plant that is adapted to salty environments. when you bite into it, the saltiness immediately floods your mouth… like eating bits of the sea! the flavour is pleasant enough and the surprise saltiness in every bite makes for a fun addition to salads and other dishes.

it’s a bit of a gourmet thing these days, which is funny because for much of history, salicornia was considered a worthless weed. it reminds me of a Ralph Waldo Emerson’s quote on the back of one of my field notes:

“What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.”

sounds about right!

jardin majorelle

on the last post, i mentioned this desire to collect botanical specimens and “bring all the green things” home with me, and it reminded me of the jardin majorelle, one of my favourite places in marrakesh. even crowded with tourists, i find it irresistibly beautiful.

i think part of the allure of the majorelle garden is just how unexpected it is. in the middle of a dusty ocre city, the gardens are a green oasis — like an escape hatch from the the traffic and the heat. everywhere you look, there’s complicated cacti, towering bamboo or blooming vines, twisted around and covering the pergolas that surround the buildings and fountains.

and part of it is also the fact that the whole thing is a love story, from beginning to end. french painter jacques majorelle curated this garden over a lifetime, bringing back all kinds of plants from his travels to nurture and grow here. and so over time, the gardens became an immense green collection, showcasing his love affair with botany.

after jacques died, the gardens fell in disrepair and the land ended up for sale… until yves saint laurent and pierre bergé fell in love with them too, bought them, and kept it going, even adding to it over time.

and though it’s not as peaceful today as it might have been 50 years ago, it’s still growing and flowering, a testament to all these love stories. whenever i’m standing below the swaying bamboo stalks from far away places, i feel like i’m in a pretty special place in the world.

little green things

for all i talk about hiking, i guess it’s pretty obvious that i like wandering.

part of what i like is the company, the conversation that flows easily when we’re up on the hills without digital barriers to distract us. but part of it is just nature itself, the little green things that grow in all the landscapes we walk in. they’re beautiful and i can’t help but noticing them wherever we go…



this year started with a walk with friends on january 1st, and the woods in this corner of france were filled with fresh life, despite the winter slumber. i wanted to bring it all home so much, but hélas, i don’t think ryanair would be too happy about that…