Tropical Journey

Sometimes I feel the need for an island experience, and the best way to satisy that need is to visit one.  What better way to start than by boarding a plane and heading to the Caribbean.  This time the choice is Trinidad and I have given myself just over a week to explore. Enjoy some of the photos I made while on my selective journey towards the interior.

Sand Dunes of Maspalomas


The Canary Islands are group of islands governed by Spain which lies around sixty miles of the coast of Morocco.  There are seven main islands including Gran Canaria, and numerous other islands and islets. They are now generally seen as perfect tourist destinations by Europeans who flock there to escape the cold, and enjoy the sun.

Maspalomas is situated in the southern part of Gran Canaria.  It is part of the municipality of San Bartolome de Tirajana.  Based on my personal experience, it appears to be a lot more sunny, and have far less downpours of rain than the north of the island, including Las Palmas.  It is also very well developed with numerous hotels, and resorts. During my time there, I stayed at the Eugenia Victoria Hotel, in Gran Canaria Avenue, not far from the Playa de Ingles. It was a very large hotel about four hundred rooms offering Half board, or All inclusive. The accommodation was quite adequate with lots of room space, and I did enjoy the food.

Dunas de Maspalomas is a nature reserve in the southern part of Gran Canaria, with splendid beaches and commercial resorts. Spectacular are the hillsides of sand which were historically created years ago, and remain interesting to explore.  It was my first visit to see the Dunes, and I will be quite willing to have another look next time around, with a little more time on my hand



With a population of over two million, Havana presents itself as the largest city in the Caribbean islands, with a varied and colorful mixture of Hispanic architecture, and currently  an eclectic mix-style of wonderful, and yet varied entertainment.  Designated by UNESCO as a cultural heritage site in 1982, it is now under an ambitious government organized restoration program, after centuries of neglect. The grand aim is to restore the historic beauty and subtleties of the Old Town – La Habana Vieja, to the standard it once acclaimed. Visitors have a lot to choose from, formal walks around the streets of the central city area, much more detail look at the many museums, including those which chronicle the history of the revolution, or simply grab a meal at one of the many impromptu or formal restaurants.  Whatever you choose, Havana is waiting for you.


BEIJING: The Forbidden City

October 1st, the Chinese National Day, I intended to rise early and take in the expected celebrations in Tiananmen Square. I did not make it.  Still jet-lagged from my ten hour flight from London, I overslept.  Rising swiftly, I quickly got dressed, and  grabbed some breakfast downstairs in the restaurant, at the excellent Novotel Hotel where I was staying
in the downtown area of Dongcheng, and headed for the ‘Forbidden City’ complex.
Today called the Palace Museum – (The locals call it Gu-Gong which means Ancient Palace), it offers a striking insight about the Emperors who ruled China many years ago. It was so impressive that I spent a whopping five hours there; walking through an imperious Meridan Gate, gliding into numerous halls of Harmony and Palaces, all offering splendid architectural styles of the day. And then on towards the revealing Treasure Gallery with its minature icons, and finally exiting through the Imperial Garden.   Enjoy the photos.


JUNE Blooms

It is the month of the year when the weather is fine, or should be.  It is definitely  the season to watch my plants grow.  It is also the time to grab your camera and capture the blooms.

Aeoniums and Puyas do not fit perfectly together.  But in this garden they were numerous.  The puya species are not difficult to grow, but they do need patience especially because of their many awkward spines. Another consideration is that they do grow quite large, and do need careful staging when grown in the garden. Aeoniums are very much more easy to deal with, especially as cuttings, because growing from seeds can take forever.

Tecoma Stans and Uncarina Decaryi!  What a lovely colour coded combination. The Tecomas are very commom in the tropical zones, and are quit easy to propagate.  Theie resplendent yellow blooms are a godsend.  The Uncarinas are very new caudex style plants, and do not like to experience cold.  Care must be taken, even though they will do nicely in greenhouse culture.


Brachychiton  and Euphorbia make a very unusual combination.  Euphorbias are quite commom in various combinations wherever we go.  The Brachychitons are less well known, as they hail all the way from Austrailia. The Brachychiton Bidwillii is even quite rare, and is never expected in any average botanical garden.

Here are some Aloes and Cacti , two genre of plants which are well known.

More Euphorbias, Aloes and Aeoniums!

Gran Canaria: Jardin Canario

If you ever make the journey to Las Palmas, make sure you save sometime for the Jardin Canario.  Situated on the outskirts of the city, you will fine it in an incredible setting. Whichever way you approach,  prepare for a dramatic climb, but you do not have to do it all at once.  I started at the top, gradually and gently winding my way downwards, admiring the species of plants as I walked along. At the base you will be confronted with a dramatic presentation of native plants and succulents; the walk becomes easier, and you can enjoy the quiet ambiance of this tranquil setting.




Euphorbia of the Year

There are over 2000 species of named Euphorbias. Not all of them are succulents. They come in all shapes and sizes. Some are large and tree-like, while many are small like cactuses. They are found in Madagascar ,Africa, the Middle East and the Americas. They are sun-loving, and certainly prefer the warm to the cold. They are grown from seeds, cuttings, rhizomes, and sometimes even leaves. But care must be taken when dealing with these plants because they contain a poisonous sap, milky in appearance, which can be irritating, and sometimes harmful. Wash your hands thoroughly after any contact.

Let me introduce you to one of my favorite Euphorbias.  It looks very much like another popular Euphorbia; yes, the Christmas plant which we see every year. Its name is Euphorbia punicea, and its origin is Jamaica.  I would like to nominate the Flame of Jamaica, as my Euphorbia of the Year.








In Pursuit of Agave Palmeri

This was my first Agave hunt in Arizona, and there was a lot of excitement building within me. This was a long way from my London home, but I did think the journey was worthwhile.The last time I visited Tucson, many years ago, I had hiked around the East Saguaro National Park, but that was non-specific following the tourist route, and dominated by the large Carnegiea Giganteas. This time was different, and definitely easier, as I was in tow with friends Martin, Greg and his mate, and all I had to do was to follow the leader. And yet, I almost missed it. The Palmeri Habitat was situated inside Base Fort Huachuca, a US military installation, fifteen miles from the Mexican border. It needed a personal ID to get in. Totally unaware of this, I had left my passport back at the hotel. It was left to a sweet talking member of our team to smooth the way.

It worked, and I was soon on my way in. Minutes inside the base, I caught my first glimpses via flower stalks, but they appeared not the way I expected. I expected cohesive groups of plants almost as in an extended family. These plants were not like that; they appeared to be stand alone efforts, as if declaring a state of independence, often surrounded by grass. And this pattern was largely followed in most areas that we visited.

At our first stop, I viewed many plants lying very low in the grass. My friend Ron was right about wearing boots, as you need them to protect your ankles from the innocent looking grass seeds which once stuck, become very difficult to remove. From the road, you can easily miss the more than curious collection of plants, and I suspect that most people do. When I left London, I had not a single plant in my collection, that is about to change. They were immensely attractive, suggesting a kind of stately elegance in spite of their smaller size. Also remarkable about their presence, was the variation of the plants. The message was loud and clear; you may belong to the same family, but you do not have to look the same.

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