As I sit and type this, I wonder what type of spring weather you are having at the moment. From here, it seems that the East Coast of the U.S. has been buried under many snow storms this winter, something I don’t get to experience living here in Madrid, and to be honest, I do miss it. The only snow I see is the view of the snow capped mountains from the terrace, which is a wonderful sight but is not enough for me. So, with arrival of spring here already, a group of friends and I decided to seek wildflowers in those same mountains, near a very small village called Patones de Arriba, just a short drive outside of Madrid.
The almond trees are the first to flower here and from afar they seemed to be the only plants in bloom, lighting up the rocky hillsides. The olive groves we passed through were sometimes the perfect backdrop to the white blossoms, a picturesque scene of the beginning of a Mediterranean spring.
Trudging further up the loose and stony paths, higher up into the mountain, the flora changed from open grassy areas to a shrubby layer of Cistus and large areas of the faint blue blooms of Rosemary, Rosmarinus officinalis. It’s a funny sight when when you see your herbs all grown up. For a short while there was a light snowstorm which felt like I was in a dream, similar to when Dorothy was in the field of red poppies in the Wizard of Oz. It was a beautifully surreal moment. Then there was a glimpse of gold, near the base of a Rosemary shrub. I was shocked at finding Narcissus and it was in bloom!! This is my first time I have seen Narcissus in the wild. Since hunting for wildflowers in Israel, when I found my first wild tulip, it has always been a goal to find Narcissus but never succeeded. Either it was too late or I only found the remaining greens swollen with seed. So this was an exciting moment for me, another wildflower off the list. These Narcissus were Narcissus pallidulus and were usually were found in small groups here and there, never in large swathes, only a cluster 1-3 plants in an area. After that moment of discovering them, I saw them growing near the Rosemary seen throughout the hillside. Now I hope to find more types of Narcissus throughout other parts of Spain. Seeing these in there natural state makes their more common showy cultivars currently growing on my terrace, seem so brash and vulgar now. I look forward to more plant excursions like this in the future and will keep you updated on any new finds. Hope this finds you well and with spring at your doorstep, finally… Speak soon my friend- James