O were my love yon lilac fair,
Wi’ purple blossoms to the spring…
Being Scottish I tend to favour the words of Rabbie Burns over all that wandering lonely as a cloud business. There’s something about spring which makes it perfect for digging out old poems to quote as you wander over hill and dale, running hands through tall grasses and swathes of rainbow-coloured blooms. Embarrassed confession – we were once filmed doing just that in the Spanish Pyrenees for a Slow Travel short film. We didn’t know what to do so opted to do something really cheesy, holding hands as well as we swept our free hands through the tall grass. To our shock and horror they kept it in the final cut. I still cringe whenever I see it.
Hedgerows and fields brimming with colourful spring displays might not be a sight everyone associates with Tenerife. When we moved to the island we were often told how there were no distinctive changes in seasons. As we drove past bright displays of perky poppies during our first spring it made us realise that, for all its popularity, many people still didn’t know the island and its patterns very well.
One of the reasons for the ‘no variation in seasons’ belief was spring flowers don’t burst into bloom everywhere. There are particular areas where you get treated to dreamy landscapes which would have the romantic poets reaching for their quills. Additionally, sometimes seeing the best displays requires effort and a bit of a trek. These are a few of our favourite springtime in bloom spots on Tenerife.
Santiago del Teide
Anytime I write about spring flowers on Tenerife the valley around Santiago del Teide usually gets a mention for two reasons. It was there we first saw an impressive display of wild flowers. The borders of a field where a mature farmer was bent double planting seeds were bursting with scarlet, yellow and blue flowers. They weren’t actually the first wild flowers we saw, those had been poppies on the roadside verges on the drive between Icod de los Vinos and Santiago del Teide, but they were the most concentrated. Equally enchanting was the sunburst yellow display in front of the Casona del Patio, still being renovated and a long, long way from being open.
The upper Orotava Valley
The Orotava Valley is one of our favourite places for walking on Tenerife at any time of the year, but it’s at its best in spring when routes around La Caldera come alive with wild flowers and bees. There’s a lot of variety to feast the eyes upon, but one of the most impressive plants (and I apologise to those who know better if I’ve got the exact name wrong) is echium callithyrsum, a type of tajinaste which, unlike the scarlet variety in Teide National Park, tends to grow in clumps and reaches a height of up to four metres. The one in the photo was taken early morning before the lazy sun had climbed its way above the island’s ridge.
Teide National Park
An arid volcanic landscape might initially seem an odd choice as a favourite area for seeing wild flowers, but sometimes less is more. For a start, the towering scarlet tajinaste spikes which explode into life in some areas of the park in May are uniquely eye-catching. But they’re not the only bright spark in the park – there are violets, laburnums, arnica and one which I think compliments the strange landscape almost as much as the tajinaste – the Teide wallflower.
The wild west
If you were to ask me choose the walk I enjoyed most out of all the routes we’ve walked on Tenerife I might (just might as it’s an impossible task) opt for a walk in the Teno Mountains at the end of March in 2013. The sun was shining, the weather was warm but not too hot, goats skipped across abandoned terraces and the hills were full of flowers – tajinastes, Canarian bellflowers, cherry-coloured tabaibas, thistles, bladder campion and many more. At one spot a carpet of delicate blue flowers filled the foreground whilst green slopes fell towards a sparkling sea with a hazy La Gomera making up the backdrop. It was a perfect day and a near perfect walk. Funnily enough, years later when we walked it with a friend who had trekked all over the world, without prompting, he also declared it to be a near perfect walking route. I’ve used this photo from the 2013 walk many times and make no apologies for using it again. It just encapsulated a huge satisfactory-sigh of a moment.
Santiago del Teide, Teide and even the Orotava Valley blooms can be experienced with only a little bit of walking involved. The Teno scene, however, can only be viewed after a decent climb on two legs. It keeps it a little bit special.