An update from Spain

Hello Everybody.

We thought it was about time we sent you all another update on our Daffodil Reports. It has been a couple of weeks since we were last on-line at a campsite with Wifi and some really wet weather and snow. Now we have left Galicia and  are  staying for 10 days around Potes, in the Picos de Europa. One of our favourite places!
However, before we tell you what is happening here in the Picos, we should mention a few of the trips out we had with the Daffodil Society party of three (Reg Nicholl, Jackie Petherbridge and Gwynne Davies), who flew into A Coruna on 18 March for a week’s visit to Galicia. We met up with them at their hotel in the market town of Arzua on the N547 road to Lugo each day and off we would go to show them the N. cyclamineus, N.lagoi and N.bulbocodium in that area.
On our travels we managed to find plenty of N. cyclamineus still flowering profusely at several locations in that region and plenty of the early ones we had seen in early February, now setting seed. We also extended the range of the N. lagoi to the same river system higher upstream and here again, as many still in flower as those setting seed.
Which is quite extraordinary given that we found these in flower in January!

Not content with this, we also visited another site where N. cyclamineus grows shoulder to shoulder with a fairly vigorous form of N. bulbocodium but with very little evidence of any hybrids between the two, save for one or two markedly shorter cupped N. cyclamineus types that could have been hybrids with a dominant cyclamineus appearance.

What was remarkable was the giant N. bulbocodium flower we found in one field that had a flower almost the same size as a germolene tin!

Earlier, we had found a bulbocodium with a stem 18.5 inches long which we thought was pretty tall, however, the large flowered bulbocodium, although on a slightly shorter stem than this, did have one of its leaves measured at an astonishing 25.5 inches long! I’ve grown trumpet daffodils with foliage shorter than that.

Having picked up on our tips about finding a stream or river system to search for these daffodils, our intrepid trio were let loose on the countryside on the day before we were due to join them for their last two nights at their hotel. Following an early visit to the superb street market held in Arzua on the 8 and 22 of each month, where octopus (pulpo), is cooked out in the open, in large copper cauldrons in its own ink and then snipped into wooden eating dishes, to be heartily consumed by a ravenous public. If that sounds a tad too much for a delicate palate, then there are the Churros and chocolate stalls where freshly cooked tubes of star shaped pastry are deep fried and served with a chocolate dip, mmmm. This visit was then quickly followed by a rubber-necking visit to the walled city of Lugo where part of the famous city walls are open to walkers(in much the same way as those at York). On the way back from Lugo, a short stop at a river system and public lido on the outskirts of Melide,revealed another amazing find of N. cyclamineus, N. lagoi and N. bulbocodium, all happily growing together on the banks of the river for several hundred yards, where in summer, hundreds of people must visit to swim and play in the very same space, yet probably totally unaware of the treasures that by then, would be invisible! How amazing is nature!

That was not all, because on the other side of the river, there were a number of Psedonarcissus in flower on a patch of inaccessible terrain. These were either very old, deliberately planted bulbs of a nondescript nature (certainly nothing I had ever seen resembling a known species or sub-species narcissus) yet fascinating in their haphazard habitat.  Further afield, on the other side of the road to be precise, there was a massive stand of N. bulbocodium that filled a huge area with thousands upon thousands of tiny flowers in a very wet meadow. These made our President don his patent galoshes of two supermarket carrier bags! Definitely not haute couture but certainly, a daffodil red letter day.

Daffodils were not the only item on the agenda and one further day was taken up by a visit to Santiago de Compostela and its world famous Cathedral and Square (Praza do Obradoiro) the goal of so many thousand Camino de Santiago pilgrims who can be seen for many hundreds of miles walking through France and Spain to the Zero kilometre mark in the Praza that signifies their remarkable achievement.  We were fortunate enough to have visited on the Sunday before Easter and to see the Palm Sunday parade and the pilgrims and visitors clutching their olive branches and then on to the service in the cathedral proper.

This was then followed by the most startling contrast by a visit to the Cidade da Cultura de Galicia (Galicia’s City of Culture) about as modern as it gets in architectural terms and as yet, unfinished due to the financial problems hitting Spain at the moment. Three of the ‘City’s’ complexes are finished however and these are open to the public. A Library, a Museum and an Archive, all housed in separate futuristic stone facaded buildings designed by American architect Peter Eisenman and situated at the top of Mount Gaias overlooking the old City. The remaining buildings will be devoted to the Performing Arts (Theatres and Workshops) and Central Services(Administration of the City of Culture and Integrated Centre for Data Processing of the Xunta de Galicia).

The Library does house a number of volumes on the Flora of Galicia and Spain in general, including the currently published volumes (about 12) of Castroviejo’s Flora Iberica and my recently acquired Guia de las Joyas de la Botanica de Asturias. We had to drag Reg away from the jazz section of the Dewey System.

One of our outings included a Motorhome Champagne Lunch to celebrate Lynne’s 60th birthday, all looked on in amazement by the Camino walkers who obviously thought we were a bit ‘loco’! Needless to say, a good time was had by all and we were most grateful to Salvatore the boss at the Hotel Suiza in Arzua for allowing us to use his car park for two nights ‘wild’ camping and enjoying two night’s dinner in the hotel. It’s a hard life this daffodil hunting.

More reports later so Keeeeeep Watching!

Jan & Lynne