When the sun is so bright and the sky is so blue, the brilliance of the light is both exhilarating and exhausting. Walking towards the Playa de San Juan from Albufereta on a hot, sunny October afternoon, we felt as if we were planets away from South West France. The walk is perfect, leaving the beach at Albufereta behind us, passing the waves of highrise apartment buildings, some built in a surprisingly Stalinist style, the headland itself brings rock scrambling and sandy paths plummeting downwards into dunes, some unexpected nudist bathing, and then, as you round the headland, some mysterious gardening appears.
More than a coincidence, there must be a lone or maybe more than one, gardener who is helping these small plantings along. Tucked into crevices, mixtures of succulents, sedums, and grasses, all surviving and looking in good shape- presumably just out of the reach of the tidal waves. I am not botanically expert enough to nail the identities of the plants concerned, but I loved the expression of joy that these little tended garden areas seemed to exude. A kind of ‘You watch me, I can do it’ feeling. Brilliant.
In other public spaces, or sometimes looming over high walls round houses or apartments, there were lovely moments of planted generosity and brilliance. Clouds of fluffy white Pennisetum (I think) drifted up and down the rocky outcrop of the mediaeval Castle in Alicante city, sparkling in the low light of the sun setting. Totally wild and self-seeded, I am sure.
Bougainvillea was blooming like crazy everywhere, but not often in orange. This rusty, strong colour really brought out the real flowers, the little white centres.
An amazing tree, new to me, with a swollen bulbous trunk, which was adorned with the last of what looked like floppy orchids from afar, nearly cost me an ankle, as I wobbled about on piles of logs to try and get that little bit closer to the flowers and also the orbed, green fruits. And once seen, I then realised that Ceiba speciosa is a go-to-tree in Alicante public parkland. Ubiquitous, but quite gorgeous.
In the Roman ruins of Lucentum, the Roman city at the back of Albufereta, Leptospermum scoparium was blooming with the occasional rain that comes in October. Other walls were adorned with the china pink blooms of Pandorea jasminoides.
I adore Pennisetum setaceum ‘Rubrum’, which municipal planters in Tarbes use all the time in the summer for their flowering baskets et al. With us, of course, the winter is the death of it. In Alicante, it really is almost in the weed category as it pops up everywhere on bare ground, obviously unassisted. But the colours are so warm and full of life, that it is a weed I would happily invite to pop up in my garden.
On Jim’s back balcony, Passiflora x violacea atropurpurea was opening flowers every day, with that firework burst of silver and purple filaments surrounding the central stamens.