A visit to the botanic garden in the village of El Bosque.

Regular visits to the Botanic Garden in El Bosque village allow us to see the local wild plants as they change through the seasons.

Mid June is the best time to see some of the parks endemics in full flower. Phlomis x margaritae is a hybrid shrub in the Sage family that occurs naturally on a mountain named Margarita – hence the plant name. This is placed in the “rupicola” section (rock gardens) at the highest point of the meandering pathways. It is a plant endemic to the Sierra de Grazalema park area. This meaning that it is not found in the wild anywhere else in the world.

In the same rock gardens and in full flower at this time of year are the orange blooms of the cliff dwelling Grazalema poppy (Papaver rupifragum) which although it was thought that this plant was exclusive to this mountain range it has also been recorded in Morocco.

The delicate lemon flowers of (Sideritis incana subsp occidentalis) are easily overlooked on a mountain side and this again is only from the Grazalema area.

The sky was a beautiful deep blue and I love the combination of dark green trees and fresh white clouds against such a colour. My progress around the gardens was slow as there is so much to see and photograph at this time of year. Even seed pods from plants that flowered earlier are very photogenic.

The shaded areas beneath the mature trees on visits to the Botanic Garden in El Bosque village are always welcome at this time of year!

On my first visits here I used to write the plant names that I wanted to learn onto a note pad, now I cheat and take a photo of the sign along with the plant pictures – so much quicker!

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bars and restaurants are reopening

Well, slowly but surely all the bars and restaurants are reopening in Ronda, Grazalema and the area around the Caminito del Rey.

Many hotels are already taking bookings as well. However, it does seem that Ronda is lagging behind a little in this respect. Let’s hope it catches up soon.

The state of alarm declared here in Spain due to the outbreak of Covid-19 will be lifted on the 21st of June 2020.

This means that this “new normality” that everyone has been talking about will be a reality. What exactly does it mean? Who knows to be honest. Hopefully it will mean that the quality of establishements will be better than ever. Providing a clean and safe environment to sample those Spanish tapas or wallowing in the jacuzzi of your favorite hotel.

Whats new on the websites?

Heres the latest article over at Ronda Today if you fancy a horseriding holiday in this stunning area of Western Andalucia.

The Caminito del Rey is up and running and there are virtually no spaces left aaccording to the official online booking system. Have a look here for some alternative ways to get an entry ticket

The Spanish version Event Calendar is developing nicely. All the basic village and town information articles are written and published and there are now 41 villages on the new pages.

A few events have been published For some villages and I expect this to increase a lot with the lockdown lifted and more freedom to move around.

That said, pretty much every summer feria and romería has been cancelled for this year. So this August will be a quiet one without the usual fun fairs, dodgems and deafening concerts untill the early morning sun rises. 🙂

You can see the event calendar website here. Its all in Spanish so good practice for your language skills. 🙂

Wildside Holidays is also doing pretty well of late! I am seeing traffic increasing and hopefully the businesses running wildlife holidays in Spain will benefit a little from this project.

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So, theres more happening in my neck of the woods than just the bars and restaurants are reopening!

Happy travels and stay safe!


Grazalema Poppy (Papaver rupifragum) Amapola de Grazalema

The Grazalema poppy is a soft orange in colour and can be seen in the wild only in the Sierra de Grazalema (within Europe.)

It hangs off cliff faces, lodges itself between rocky clefts or is found tucked into natural pavement crevices.

The main flowering time is in the month of June and it was originally thought to exist solely here in the Sierra de Grazalema area but it has also been found in similar mountain localities in the western Rif and the Middle Atlas, Morocco.

(There are actually quite a few plants that are shared between the south western Andalusian mountains and North Africa as historically they were connected through this mountain chain.)

The altitudinal range of the Grazalema poppy is 900 to 1.600 m with most occurring between 1.100 to 1.350m. The temperature change at this altitude on the mountains through the course of a year can be quite dramatic spanning from snow coverage to a baking drought.

This plant species is limited to the north and north east facing slopes as these are slightly cooler and more humid. If the plant has grown in favourable conditions it may survive for 15 years, others falling in less hospitable terrain die during the summer, hopefully not before setting seed.

The seeds are dispersed close to the parent plant by wind throughout the summer and germinate with the autumn rains. If these arrive late the plants may not grow strong enough to survive the winter.

This hardy perennial plant can have around 1000 to 2000 seeds within one seed pod, but as only around one per cent survive to reproduce they are on the list of protected species within Andalucía. There are various reasons for this low number, the main one is being grazed by wild and domestic goats which can remove 50% of the flowering shoots.

Some plants that escape this fate are those on sheer cliff faces but the seeds from these may fall into deep, moving scree slopes where they can not grow.

For an alternative way to see the Grazalema poppy in flower visit the Botanic Gardens “El Castillejo” in the village of El Bosque on the western side of the Sierra de Grazalema natural park. As with most poppies a morning visit is recommended as they drop their petals during the afternoon.

Family: Papaveraceae
Scientific name: Papaver rupifragum Boiss. & Reut.
Spanish common name: Amapola de Grazalema

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The new events calendar for Grazalema and its neighbours

So, I am working on the new events calendar. It’s not just the Sierra de Grazalema as before but now but takes in all of the Serranía de Ronda from Algámitas across to Benaladid to Ubrique via Cortes de la Frontera and finishing up alphabetically in Zahara de la sierra.

Events right now are few and far between due to the coronavirus issue that continues to persist.

That said, things are coming alive again slowly but surely.

Bars and restaurants are opening. Places to visit and things to do. Hotels taking reservations.

You can follow the progress of the new event calender on this domain here. http://grazalemaguide.com/quehacerenlasierras/

It is in Spanish so good for your language practice.

Eurasian Golden Oriole

The powerful fluting whistle followed by a squark of a Eurasian Golden Oriole. This can be heard in forests and lowland wooded areas near to rivers as this is their favoured habitat.

A good place to hear them in the Sierra de Grazalema is the road to Algodonales from Grazalema in the Ribera valley. especially lokk and listen where the Guadalete stream runs into the Zahara reservoir.

Considering the males bright tropical colouring they can be incredibly hard to see when perched in the trees! They meld in with the lights and shadows of the leaves and are shy and very agile with a fast acrobatic and undulating flight.

Similar to a thrush in size and form but the male has a bright yellow body with contrasting black wings and tail. There is a black mark between eye and beak (lore). There are yellow markings on the wing and the bill is reddish.

The females and juveniles are more similar in colouring to a green woodpecker with an olive green back and off-white breast with fine streaks and an overall more pale appearance.

When are they here in Grazalema?

Eurasian Golden Orioles arrive in Iberia in mid April from their wintering grounds in tropical Africa. They chase each other noisily through the trees with great agility.

As well as the beautiful song they also have a very tuneless squawk. Orioles are most visible and audible in the early mornings, becoming quieter through the heat of the day.

Their return migrational journey is mid August through to September.

Insects and berries make up their diet and they have a strong liking for figs for which they are prepared to come out of the tree canopy and warily feed close to habitation. Otherwise they choose areas of very tall trees in which to perch and their nests are also set high in a fork within the canopy.

They can be quite territorial and protective of their nesting area and the males will pursue passing predators such as sparrowhawks (Accipiter nisus) from their chastising them constantly.

Hard to get images!

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Tourist Information Portal for the Sierra de Grazalema, The town of Ronda and the Caminito del Rey.