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 quickly searched Google for places to visit. A 'nature reserve', you say? We hopped in a taxi and arrived at our destination. We enquired about tickets at the main reception to find '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 in a front garden with unfurling agave dotted alongside them. A terrazzo vibe pebble arrangement lay in the clay-like ground.
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 could be dusted over yourself when a dose of rich sunshine is needed. A geologist would've had a field day. I know 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 stony formations coming, Portugal. Here, the corrugated lengths of the agave had a blueish tinge, with a silvery touch. A hearty heathery lilac shrub grew 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, with vivid pink petals contrasting with vibrant walls. The tall stems of the pink foxgloves have spread across the garden at home, delicately dropping bells along the way. I'm happy to continue finding buds from this plant 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 coming through with yellow and blue. 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. I want to bring an element of that feeling onto paper too, all the while embracing the outdoors where I can, 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, of course). Palm trees framed pistachio picture-postcard buildings, where architecture ebbed into the horizon. 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. You can see 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 talking about the subtly bluish-grey echeveria in the boaty post here - what an idyllic day at Rutland Water 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 fisherman's 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 mélange 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 - maybe touching the cacti arm, while admiring the coastal view, should be done with a tad more attention. There's a slight chance one of the little spikes on the edge might have other ideas. A sharp ouch as I nicked my ring finger (almost like an encounter with a thorn), leaving me wondering where I did the plant wrong. Really, I was just taking a moment to appreciate it's beauty. A quick tending to the wound and then it was swiftly back to all things nature.
Agave leaves towered proudly in the glorious evening sun. A mottled pattern coursed through a leaf length, like multiple glass fragments. It was reminiscent of scattered brown and cream seed beads. The intricacy of terrazzo also comes to mind. Recently, I've been on the search for a planter with a similar pattern. There's miniature ones I've come across, yet I can't find one which matches the shape and stonework I have in mind. I've thought about making one, which would involve cement, moulds, sanding, polishing etc. I mean, if I'm this invested, then there'd surely be a whole range to consider, with stone chip and colour variations. Time to get experimenting with mediums? The material jesmonite could also be an option. Even so, I'll still forever be on the lookout for perfect planters.
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. Zen. Being around these beautiful banded triumphs, I wonder how to go about growing larger-than-me succulents back home...
Ferragudo had been a pleasure. As the sun set, we made our way back to Portimão. Before we headed to dinner, I had to capture a picture of the beach as dusk set in. A delicate sunset appeared like a watercolour wash on paper. Idyllic quiet shores. 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. Viewings of The Great British Bake Off are having an effect on my outlook. I'd be happy to see dessert in everything I glance at, to be honest. 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 delightfully. Various bands of colour came through with the mini-mountains, in a fascinating gradient. Glancing back at these snaps, I adore seeing the mass of plants that thrive with little maintenance. I travel back home to Leicester on occasions and can't water the non-succs for a few weeks, Even with a good dousing before I left this time, I returned to find the calamondin orange tree (mentioned here) on it's last leafy legs and the orange orbs looking more like prunes. Distraught. Here's hoping a hasty soaking can revive it. If you can suggest any plant self-watering mechanisms, I would definitely like to hear them.
I have to say, this is one of my favourite posts and one day that I'll look back on with fond memories. Ah, I just want a massive greenhouse and have it strategically crammed with succulents and flowers. I'm thinking a variety of anthurium, orchids and an entwining hoya kerrii. Many a wooden terrarium to create too. My latest creation features a dome of sempervivum and lithops blending effortlessly with the pebbles. Until I find myself strolling through vast leafy/rocky terrain again, the miniature versions have a way of taking me back.