Our second day in Portugal and the agave awe does not stop. We took a walk around the beachy area to see giant barbed limbs stretching in the distance. Yes, I did carefully hop over the steep ledge to take a snap of the spiky stems. I couldn't resist that shade of minty green, topped off with a sunshine bloom. Yellow and green seemed to be a common colour combo here and I was down for that. Prickly paddles lapped up the sun rays, sitting amongst a bed of dried floral buds. Sounds like the makings of a great arrangement.
We hadn't made any specific plans, so we quickly searched Google for places to visit. A 'nature reserve', you say? We hopped in a taxi and arrived at our destination. Our enquiry about tickets at the main reception was followed with 'this is actually a campsite'. Ah, right. Google failed to mention that. No problem; a chance to explore the local area... and what an area it was. Huge cacti forms stood with unfurling agave dotted close by. I'm beginning to feel they're a rose bush equivalent here. Yes to a garden which spans to home them all.
Mars, we here? The landscape took on an intense russet hue as we made our way around the winding roads. A great shade for a bronzing palette. One you wish you could dust over yourself whenever that sunshine dose is needed. A geologist would've had a field day. I stopped to appreciate the various stony forms embedded in the land. You can read about my appreciation for all things rockery in this post. Seeing as we're here talking stones, take a look at this one, which looks like light embodied - potentially as a bolt of thunder.
Keep those stone formations coming, Portugal. Here, the corrugated lengths of the agave had a blue tinge, with a silvery touch. A lilac shrub sprouted boldly from the cracks. The purple flowers are reminiscent of this one, which had invited a few guests of its own - a sedate kaleidoscopic party. I was expecting greenery when we decided to visited this holiday destination, yet I wasn't expecting full-blown colossal succulents. You can probably imagine how excited I was. 'Look at this variegated one over here too!'
Our walk took us past colourful homes, where those famous tiles came to feature again. Our first encounter with them can be found here. Bougainvillea canopies draped overhead; vivid pink petals contrasted with vibrant walls. Tall foxglove stems have spread across the garden at home, delicately dropping bells along the way. I'm happy to continue finding them dotted through the soil. Talking florals, I've been experimenting with illustrations which merge the botanical element with a fashion perspective.
Colour blocking here was done so well. That sand and sea analogy came through with yellow and blue. I really have to find a way to spend more time by the water. It's time to bring all things nature to the forefront. I found myself asking, 'If I could spend my time doing one thing with my day, what would it be?' The first thought that came to mind was 'garden'. Growing plants. Flowers. Bringing that feeling onto paper too, Bouquet and plant arrangements at a larger scale, as well as mini pots sprouting beaded blooms.
Take a peak at the markings of this florally plant, which wouldn't look out of place in the baked landscape around us, as well as in Jumanji (Robin Williams edition). Palm trees framed picture-postcard buildings, where architecture ebbed into the horizon. I'm all for walls a shade of pistachio. We stopped by a charming dessert place for some gelato in fab Ferragudo. Here during World Cup season, the locals came to sit and enjoy the big match, adding to the friendly atmosphere. There's more of this day at the 10.40 min mark, on sis's vlog here.
Captivating fleurs and motifs feature on many a tile. The linear blue tendrils have me thinking about plants in this colour. I recall seeing a bluish-grey echeveria at Rutland Water in Leicestershire - what an idyllic day that was. There was also the beautiful blue Himalayan poppies spotted at Coton Manor, which I've yet to see in a flower bed around me since. Pinks and red collaborate in curved vases for one of my first plant/floral illustrations. Angular stems come through with as much impact as the vessels themselves.
An element of the fishing life was embodied in this painting we discovered, perched atop the winding cliff. I can totally appreciate a good hat and the blended blues of the fisherman's hat echoes the waters perfectly. A palm sat comfortably in front. Is it need of a good drink or is that shade of coppery brown it's natural hue? Either way, yes to sporadic palms planted in many places. The collaboration of colour continued at every turn, with sky-hued sailboats and homes in shades of apricot,
I'm in my green element for sure. A quick note to self for the future - pay a tad more attention to planty barbed edges, while appreciating cacti arms and admiring the coastal view. There's a slight chance one of the little spikes will leap into action. A sharp ouch as I nicked my ring finger (felt like a thorn encounter), reminding me that gardening gloves are a good call. Should've packed them. Roses and agave continue to have more in common. A quick tending to the wound and then it was swiftly back to all things nature.
The leaves towered proudly in the glorious evening sun. A mottled pattern coursed through the length, like multiple glass fragments. It was reminiscent of scattered brown and cream seed beads. The intricacy of terrazzo comes to mind. Recently, I've been on the search for a planter with this style of pattern. I've seen tiny pots, yet I haven't come across one which could hold an arrangement of plants. I've thought about making one, which would involve cement, moulds, sanding, polishing etc. Time to get experimenting with mediums?
I remember reading about the Japanese concept of 'forest bathing' or nature therapy. The idea of being surrounded by the calming environment to help with mental well-being and overall happiness. It's all true. I'd suggest no to hugging agaves though. Not that I tried. Here's a fun perspective I read on tree-hugging. It would probably apply to non-spiky plants, as well as trees. The coursing of energy and all. Being around these beautiful stripy triumphs, I'm wondering how to go about growing larger-than-me succulents back home...
Ferragudo was a pleasure. As dusk set in, we made our way back to Portimão. A delicate sunset appeared like a watercolour wash on paper. Rock formations were dotted majestically in the waters and the horizon was tinged with rainbow hues. I'm getting a Baked Alaska vibe with the mountainous feat on the left. The Great British Bake Off is having an effect on my outlook. To be honest, I'd be happy to see dessert in everything I glance at. Shrubbery and green shoots surrounded the scene, where there was no filter required here, whatsoever.
When I moved to my new place in Letchworth, Hinisha gifted me with a housewarming succulent poster. Note the agave with orangey/red floral stalks emerging from the top right of the illustration. Here, they dappled through the pathways in abundance, translating into the physical version delightfully. Earthy bands of colour came through with the mini-mountains, in a fascinating gradient. Creamy tones blending into ochre and dark browns... wow. Glancing back at these snaps, I adore seeing the mass of plants that thrive with little maintenance.
I have to say, this is one of my favourite posts and one day that I'll look back on with fond memories. The thought of a massive greenhouse filled with succulents and flowers is exciting. I'm thinking a variety of anthurium, orchids and an entwining hoya kerrii. Many a wooden terrarium too. My latest creation features a dome of sempervivum and lithops blending effortlessly with pebbles. Until I find myself strolling through vast leafy/rocky terrain again, the miniature versions have a way of taking me back.