Maderia

Well, it’s been a good few weeks since the last time I wrote a post, but I’ve been on a wonderful holiday to the beautiful sub-tropical paradise island of Madeira, also known as the “Garden of the Atlantic”, and for good reason.

Some way off the west coast of Portugal, lined with the top of Africa, this volcanic archipelago in the Atlantic ocean is well-known for its wine and year-round pleasant climate. It owes both to the trade winds and the Gulf stream, which stop the island getting too hot in the summer and keeps it well above freezing in winter. There is plentiful rain as the moisture laden winds – after travelling for thousands of unbroken miles – suddenly encounter a wall of rock rising out of the ocean to almost 2000m high in the island interior. Erosion throughout the long ages has created an incredible landscape of high plateaus, deep ravines and hidden valleys with flat land being a premium.

The sub-tropical conditions with regular rain and a very fertile soil mean the island is gorgeously lush. The main crop used to be sugar but is now bananas and grapes. Maderia has more geography than it knows what to do with and the island is characterised by dizzying roads and impossible terracing. The population is mainly confined to the coastal regions as the interior is largely inaccessible and simply too vertiginous to do anything useful with.

Of course, I very much enjoyed the flora of the island. At this time of year, the road banks are red with aloes in flower. Date palms are in various stages of flower and fruit. Large stands of Strelizia (my favourite plant) are dotted everywhere and are also in flower. In the spring, the island turns blue with the sheer abundance of agapanthus that’s found in the mountains, in the forests, along side the roads, pretty much anywhere.

5 Comments


  1. Hello Jason, it was a lovely holiday. I am planning to expand on some of the pictures in future posts as I realise there’s not much of a context to the images in the gallery. I’ll look into putting some text in the pop-up tool tips.

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  2. Hello! wondered where you were! glad you enjoyed your break in Madeira and glad to see you back “on board”.

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  3. Sunil, You had a much more pleasant reason for not posting for weeks than I did. I have only seen Sterlizia growing in greenhouses and botanical gardens; it would be amazing to see whole stands of them growing by the side of the road.

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    1. Hi Jean, they do look so lovely when growing “in the wild”. They can grow into large clumps or hedges either planted or escaped. They must be one of my favourite plants, I find their flowers utterly captivating.

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