Last month I had a wonderful relaxing holiday staying at the Monnaber Nou Hotel in the middle of the Mallorcan countryside. The name Monnaber means ‘Hill of Flowers’ and the hotel is surrounded by a beautiful landscape of fruit trees typical of Mallorca including almonds, figs, pomegranate, carobs and olives.
Monnaber Nou itself had an abundance of flowers for me to enjoy. I had a wonderful time pottering with my sketchbook, wildflower books and my camera.
Latana camera is widely cultivated and naturalised in Mallorca. The shrub can grow up to 1.5m. The flowers are usually yellow or orange, changing to red, or all yellow or all red. I spotted some very pretty pink and mauve flowers too. The fruit is a small black berry.
Hibiscus rosa-sinensis is an impressive exotic looking deciduous shrub growing up to 3m. The leaves are deep green and shiny. The flowers are bright rose-red with prominent protruding red staminal column and stigmas. The shrub is widely planted in parks and gardens or along roadsides. Other colours include apricot, white, cream, pink and yellow.
It’s always a very pleasant challenge sketching by the pool whilst drinking a cocktail or two on holiday!
I am particularly fond of the beautiful magenta climber Bougainvillea. It’s one of those plants which symbolises sunny, Mediterranean holidays to me. The flowers themselves are actually insignificant whitish blooms, but surrounded by large leaf-like purple bracts.
In the grounds of Monnaber Nou I spotted the aptly named Four O’Clock Plant, Mirabilis jalapa. It is so named because its flowers usually open in the afternoon. The one I spotted liked to open an hour later at Five O’Clock!
Another flowering shrub frequently planted in gardens and on roadsides is Oleander. The flowers can be pink, red or white and grow in dense clusters. The Oleander flowers through the height of Summer when many other Mediterranean plants are past their best.
The other Mallorcan flowering shrub I am particularly fond of is Cape Leadwort or Plumbago auriculata. This scrambling shrub has beautiful sky-blue flowers. I remember picking a few snippets of Plumbago and Jasmine to decorate my favourite sunhat last year.
I spotted quite a few vibrant blue Mallorcan flowers this year. At home I valiantly battle to try to eradicate the bindweed in our garden. However Morning Glory, Ipomoea purpurea is in the same family and really is very attractive with it’s bright blue flowers. It has naturalised in hedges and roadsides in Mallorca and is also grown in gardens
Another tiny blue flower that caught my eye was the Blue Pimpernel. It was poking through the wooden slats near the pool and I almost missed it. It was close to a Scarlet Pimpernel, Anagallis arvensis which got me quite excited!
The hills behind Monnaber Nou are very rugged and the ground was completely parched in September. I enjoyed a few early morning runs amongst the olive and carob trees. There wasn’t much to be seen in flower except the very brown looking Carlina thistle, Carlina corymbosa. I didn’t think this thistle was very attractive until I looked more closely. Then I saw the beauty of the fluffy, yellow flowers. This thistle likes dry, stony places.
On a couple of afternoons I had a stroll with my camera and saw Sea Squill, Urginea maritima. Sea Squill is one of the Mediterranean’s characteristic plants. It flowers in late Summer after the glossy leaves have died away. It grows from a huge bulb, up to 15 cm across, which is often half buried in the ground. The flowering stem gradually develops after the leaves have withered and can be up to 150 cm high. This bears several hundred star like flowers.
Another plant adapted to the climate and steep rocky ground is the Century Plant, Agave americana. This is a very robust perennial, up to 7 m tall in flower. The bluish grey-green leaves are very large, spear shaped and form basal rosettes close to the ground.
Many species of Cactus are cultivated including the Prickly Pears, Opuntia ficus-indica. Found on rocky hillslopes, cliffs and roadsides. It was introduced from the Americas by Christopher Columbus. The fruits are often seen for sale in markets.
In the grounds at Monnaber I also spotted a Squirting Cucumber, Ecballium elaterium. The small green fruit, like a small cucumber explodes suddenly when ripe, squirting the seeds out in a pulpy liquid.
This is just a taste of the flowers I saw on my holidays this year. I hope you enjoyed my Mallorcan Floral snippets as much as I did!
Monnaber Nou Hotel, Campanet, Mallorca