I have always loved that Proclaimers song. But, although we had planned for years to do the Via de la Plata/Camino Sanabres from Seville to Santiago de Compostela, I had never fully grasped the full significance of the total distance, 1000 kilometres. So, when we started out from Guillena, just outside Seville, on September 20th, I couldn’t really compute the fact that in 43 walking days later, plus a good handful of stopovers in beautiful places, I would be in Santiago. In fact, I was more worried about getting to Zafra for Day 7.
And, as we were walking at the tailend of summer, I had imagined that the landscape would be crisped and brown with no sign of life. But there was life. Day 2 brought some beautiful white Asphodelus albus. The link takes you to Brenda Jones’ useful blog on Spanish wildflowers. She considers that this may be Asphodel ramosus. As you can see, the bees love it. I love the green runway markings that take the bees right to the spot, and it’s the green that suggests ‘albus’ rather than ‘ramosus’ to me, but, for sure, it is a white Asphodel.
Later, in October, in the heat of the beautful city of Merida, stuffed with the most extraordinary Roman ruins, there was a shocking pink Bougainvillea, planted on a pink wall. Stunning. The link leads you to the redoubtable Helen Yemm on growing bougainvillea in the UK.
Near Merida, out on the path, there were some isolated clumps of an unknown wild scrambling plant, which looked very like the Malvastrum that I grow here in Tostat, but yellow/cream. This was not to be seen everywhere, owing to the widespread use of herbicides to control unwanted plants in the vineyards, but it was a really beautiful plant. I have tried to identify it, but no luck yet.
Wild chicory, Cichorium intybus, was everywhere in the dry grassy edges of fields throughout Andalucia and Extremadura. It is a stunning blue, and funnily enough, although it does have wandering tendencies, if you have a dry semi-shaded spot where you can contain it, I would give it a try. The blue shimmers through other planting- it is a weaver rather than a stand-alone.
Throughout the walk, until we got to Galicia, think Perthshire, tall, etiolated seedheads of summer plants gone over, were everywhere against the immense sky.
Lastly, carpets of autumn crocus, daringly tried to grow in the pathway, most of them trodden by animals, bikes and walkers, not to mention farm traffic. In one place, and I can’t remember where, there was an amazing river of them which was protected by a fence from damage. I think that this is Colchicum autumnale, but Brenda Jones, see above, goes for Colchicum lusitanicum. I defer, as I am no botanist.