Our guide Brenda Jones gives an account of late June in our mountains. June in the Serranía de Ronda can be a month of contrasts. The landscape underwent its normal changes in colour going from vibrant greens, interspersed with dazzling patchworks of multi coloured flowering plants, to dry and crisp hues of browns and beige. Harvest of the cereal crops was well underway and a hush had descended upon the normally vociferous male birds of our mountains. Standing water attracts insect and bird to quench a thirst induced by warmer days. It is a time of year when you can feel the urgency in nature to procreate and take full advantage during a time of plenty….
A day with flowers 30th June 2009
The end of June is not a good time to go out searching for flowers due to the heat at this time of year and also the lack of flowers. Everywhere looks parched and the countryside has turned brown and I didn’t expect to find anything except for thistles, but a few flowers caught my eye unexpectedly.
At Ronda level, approx. 750m, there were some beautiful tiny delphiniums (Delphinium gracile) and some lovely pinks (Dianthus broteroi) and further along the walk we saw some blue throatworts (Trachelium caeruleum) and different species of the yellow verbascums or mulleins and of course the wonderful sky blue chicory (Cichorium intybus) were abundant everywhere.
We then went to Sierra de las Nieves expecting the temperature to be somewhat lower there, but we were in for a disappointment as it seemed hotter than ever at 29C, later climbing to 34C! Not a good day for walking even though we walked very slowly and found shade wherever we could, but it was worth it to find some of the flowers at 1200m.
We found the wonderful Southern campanula (Campanula velutina or C.mollis) in many places clinging to the inhospitable rocks along with the tiny pink rock plant Putoria calabrica. The putoria has an awful smell and I discovered that the Latin name putor means foul smell, so it is very apt!
Also foul smelling, but that is personal to me, was the curry plant (Helichrysum stoechas) though some plants had gone completely over and others were in perfect shape. There were mounds of the woolly lavender (Lavandula lanata) just beginning to flower in a deep purple. Such an attractive plant I would think when in full flower. In many places and along valleys as far as the eye could see were a multitude of pink oleanders (Nerium oleander).
Of course there were many thistles including the Spanish mountain thistle (Ptilostemon hispanicus), Spanish oyster plant (Scolymus hispanicus) and even we caught site of the odd poppy or two. As we drove down to a lower level near El Burgo we saw many fine majestic specimens of the Century plant (Agave Americana) at their perfect best and also the wonderful fragrant clematis (Clematis flammula) rambling over rocks, bushes and fences. It really is an amazing plant at this time of year when virtually all else has finished.
I can’t wait for the autumn rains now to bring out the flowers again but it will be here soon enough…