Saturday, 5 May 2012

A walk on the wild side

A sunny spring walk with the Mediterranean Garden Society (MGS), and Benoit Beauvallet from Pépinière de l’Armalette up in the wilds of the Haut Var. If you'd like to see bigger images please click here

Euphorbia serrata - left - showing fantastic yellow bracts
Psoracea bituminosa (syn Bituminaria bituminosa) - a leguminous plant with leaves that smell of burnt rubber
Lonicera etrusca - members were surprised to see this growing as a shrubby plant, rather than the more usual climbing habit of many honeysuckles

Pistacia terebinthus  - left - the turpentine tree. Closely related to the pistachio. A deciduous tree with great autumn colour; was showing a good deal of bright red bloom on the day of our visit.

Rhamnus alaternus - buckthorn - a very adaptable evergreen, as good in shade as on baked slopes. 

Isatis tinctoria - left - woad - used as a blue dye in ancient times.
Juniperus oxycedrus - a juniper with large, toxic berries. Gin fiends beware!

Eryngium campestre - a demure native sea holly with subtle colouring. Alas many had suffered from being strimmed!

Amelanchier ovalis - left - the only native European amelanchier, showing flowers on some plants.

Asplenium ceterach - incredible to see a fern growing in such arid conditions - this one copes by going dormant and dessicating completely in the summer, to regrow whenever rainfall is sufficient!

Cephalaria leucantha - a giant scabious which harsh conditions had made somewhat more compact.

Rubia peregrina - wild madder - in the Rubiaceae tribe which includes coffee and quinine! a delicate looking plant with sharp scaly foliage.

Thymus vulgaris - commonn thyme, showing typical variation in habit and flower colour
Pinus halapensis / Pinus nigra - forming small woods
Viburnum tinus - well known shrub doing its thing in the wild.
Plantago sempervirens -  left - a very surprising find! A shrubby plantain, related to the dreaded lawn weed, as evident from its flowers

Euphorbia spinosa - a diminuitive spurge making neat mounds. Perhaps this would be a good alternative for gardeners who are sick of the invasive tendencies of E. cyparissias?
Lavandula latifolia - Spike Lavender - strongly aromatic lavender (more camphorous than angustifolia types) - distinguished by its branched flowerheads. Compact growth and dark blue flowers.

Anthyllis montana - Mountain Kidney Vetch -  see left - a real highlight of the trip - a splash of crimson on a high rock ledge, its flowers have an intoxicating scent of raspberries and vanilla. Benoit thought they may be used to make a type of jam!
Helichrysum stoechas - curry plant

Cotinus coggygria - another common garden plant doing its thing in the wild!

Helianthemum oelandicum - left - a tiny sunrose with bright yellow flowers. 

Stachys recta - dwarf stachys looking more like a shrunken salvia! Yellow flowers. Its size varies according to location.
Teucrium paulium - lovely little germander with very bright whitish foliage
Thymelaea diocia

Buxus sempervirens - common box, showing bright orange leaf coloration brought out by the cold winters.
Helleborus foetidus - stinking hellebore - in shady parts of the woodland.

Aethionema - a diminutive member of the cabbage family, Brassicaceae.

Globulara cordifolia (left) - delightful small plant with comparitavely large bluish-mauve flowers. 

Sedum sediforme - a great plant to grow anywhere - even under cypresses apparently!
Clematis flammula - a beautiful fragrant clematis with small white flowers, sadly not in bloom

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