Around the world in half an hour

Or from Gibraltar to Australia in ten minutes – take your pic of title.

Today’s Gibraltar history trip is looking at a different type of history – natural history, and specifically the flora side of it. I’ll leave the monkeys et al for a separate post.

Some background and basic facts (links to sources below if you want to read more).

Gibraltar’s natural vegetation is basically Mediterranean scrub – garigue (open scrub) and maquis (dense scrub). As it is a limestone rock, the soil is alkaline.

There are some similarities with Spain and some with North Africa, leading to an extensive range of flora, including some rare plants and some indigenous Gibraltar flowers. In total, there are some 530 species (that’s almost 90 families and 330 genera) and all that in a place a few miles square. Amazing.

Being Gibraltar, naturally, there are some unique and rare plants here. I’ll quote directly from the government website, as it sums it up pretty succinctly. This refers to some of the plants found on the rocky outcrops:

The formidable limestone cliffs which form the North Face of the Rock and the East side, the rocky upper ridge and the outcrops and roadsides within the maquis, provide a habitat where can be found a large number of interesting and unique species. Here we find Silene tomentosa (Gibraltar Campion), a very rare plant found nowhere else in the world. This plant was believed extinct until rediscovered in 1994. (Yes! Gibraltar even has its very own flower that no-one else has).

Other plants are Iberis gibraltarica (Gibraltar Candytuft), a plant of North Africa and found nowhere else in Europe except Gibraltar; Cerastium gibraltaricum (Gibraltar Chickweed) also unique to Gibraltar, Saxifraga globulifera var. gibraltarica (Gibraltar Saxifrage), a variety unique to Gibraltar; Thymus willdenowii (Gibraltar Thyme), very common locally and very rarely, if at all, found elsewhere.

On the sea cliffs and shoreline we have:

This seemingly inhospitable environment, whipped by the Easterlies and South-Westerlies, and lashed by sea spray, provides the ideal habitat for certain plants which are only found close to the sea. These include Limonium emarginatum (Gibraltar Sea Lavender), a plant which is believed to be a North African species, and very rarely found elsewhere in Europe.

And on the Great Eastern Sand Slopes:

These are prehistoric consolidated sand dunes, created by wind-blown sands during a time when sea levels were much lower than at present, and sandy plains spread eastward from Gibraltar. This sandy soil provides a unique habitat not only for plants of sandy shores, but for many others. The plants that can survive in this habitat are adapted to withstand salt-laden winds, high temperatures with no cover from the sun, and scarcity of water. Here we find Ononis natrix ramosissima var. gibraltarica (Gibraltar Restharrow), a variety which is unique to Gibraltar.

I’ve only included quotes about the rare plants as I thought they were the most fascinating.

Ten minutes away from me (if that) are the Botanical Gardens. I wrote about them earlier here. It seems the period when most flowers bloom is March to May, when needless to state, I always forget to visit. But there is always something in flower, and something new to look at.

Within the gardens, there are species from all over the world, and some geographical continents have their own specific beds.

Oh, and the Australian link? Just one of those photo games I don’t play but couldn’t resist as the theme was the colour of eucalyptus green, and something from Australia. My marriage certificate comes from Australia but how utterly boring. So where better to begin than the gardens? Apparently in the gardens we have eucalyptus camadulensis, eucalyptus sp, and eucalyptus sturgissiana. Don’t think I got any of those. Still I managed a few other Aussie plants.

Let’s go in. There are two sets of gates at the main entrance to the gardens which is approached from Grand Parade/Red Sands Car Park (base of the cable car).

This is the second one, at the top of the steps. Like everything in Gib, the gardens are hilly and most entrances involve climbing up steps or up the road and then entering from the top, eg Europa Road.

Two sets of gates, steps, and finally inside the gardens

Here is another side entrance.

Gates from a Europe Road entrance

Next to the main gates is a very small shop, cafe, rest area, with a typical Moorish fountain. How tranquil.

A garden is never complete without water

Aloes are in flower just about all year round as far as I am aware, certainly they are always blooming when I visit.

Aloe ... er the same type I have in my garden for want of a more scientific name

Similarly bougainvillea.

Bougainvillea - grows everywhere except in my garden (unlike aloe)

So where are the Aussie beds? Note to self, check out map of gardens on internet before visiting, although have tongue in head, ask three weeding gardeners who helpfully directed me to the ‘phone box and the fallen tree.

What’s this? A new viewing point?? Don’t remember that. Not good for those of us with vertigo either. Nor is there much to view. Must be part of a grand plan.

View of ..... trees? the bay of Algeciras and Spain in the background

Ah, the fallen tree. Mmmmm. Could do with those logs for the wood-burning stove at the finca.

An easy waymark

The Australian beds. I think they are awaiting their revamp.

Found it. Or them.
Yes. That looks so not like the Australia I remember. It could be anywhere.
Is there a eucalyptus tree in there? Maybe?

A bottle brush tree from WA. Next to – a dragon tree – from Morocco. I guess you can’t really just move trees around like you can plants.

I think it is summer in Aus - shouldn't you be in bloom?
Dragon tree

Moving swiftly on past Brazil and Puerto Rico and South Africa, here we are in the Mediterranean Section (well, one of a few) and the indigenous Gib plants mentioned above. Three of them. Not surprisingly the extremely rare, unique-to-Gibraltar campion is not around. If it was I daresay it would quickly be nicked. Second note to self, come back in March to May to see if these are in flower.

One of our rare weeds, I mean plants, Gibraltar chickweed
As it says, Gibraltar sea lavender
Sea lavender nestling between two rocks, looks like I just missed a flower..
And the final Gibraltar plant, restharrow

As you would expect in botanical gardens, a few tombstones – the Alameda used to be a burial ground.

1800s graves in the recently restored burial area in the gardens

And here we are back in Australia again, with some beautiful palms.

On the left, Solitaire from Eastern Queensland, and on the right - the photo of the sign didn't turn out so I don't know what it's called
Fan palm (from WA) - aptly named

Thanks to KB for alerting me to this Australia theme, and to Reilly and Denny Cowspotdogs for hosting the photo thing. A couple more pix on the Australia theme will be posted over on Everypicturetells one, but not today. I visited the gardens quite often when we first moved here, and like everything, it dropped off the end. Great to have a reason to remind me to visit more often again.

Another Aus connection is Georgia Little Pea Ratatouille, one of Pippa’s newer dog pals. She lives in Sydney, NSW, and said she was interested in seeing pix of Gib. Maybe not quite so many Georgia??

A note to anyone who chooses to look at previous posts on this blog – on the import from blogger the photos are small although they do enlarge if you mouse over them. I just don’t have the enthusiasm to repost 300 postsworth of photos. You’ll get the general idea. I’ve also added links (to my past posts) to yesterday’s gibtrip photos on naval history post.

Thank you to everyone who says they like reading about and looking at photos of Gib. Appreciated. I did take more photos in the gardens so I’ll post some of those later.

http://www.gibraltar.gov.gi/flora-and-fauna/plant-life

http://www.gonhs.org/index.htm

http://www.gibraltargardens.gi/

[ETA

1. apologies to anyone who suffered my publishing errors where I republished the draft version after the final one! :(

2. Australia theme pic now posted over on Every pic]

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11 comments on “Around the world in half an hour

  1. You ‘Colour’ posted :)))
    And what a terrific post too with lovely photo’s.
    I for one, thoroughly enjoyed my walk with you as my guide through Gib’s Botanical Gardens.
    But I do like BG’s – miss Oxfords that I visited so frequently kept my annual pass always renewed.
    Now off to read about Koala.
    Blue

    Like

    • Not so much for the colour as for the topic, as I think I said. It also fitted with a different Gib theme, so interesting to put the two together. I did enjoy wandering through the gardens again, must make it a more regular habit. If the wind ever drops I’ll take a eucalyptus tree from there now I think I know where they are :D

      Like

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