Nov 23 – Tenerife

23 NOV  Tenerife
Today I took my first guided tour with a gang from the ship. 3 gardens in Tenerife. Perfectly timed after a couple of days of solo exploring. I was really ready to simply get on a bus and be taken to lovely places. With rain and fog moving through we got to see the cloud forests at work – but never managed to see the famous Tenerife mountain.
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The first stop was Jardin Botanico de la Orotava (above the Puerto de la Cruz – a very popular tourist area) a short drive across the island from the main port city of Santa Cruz (all the main Canary Island cities are called Santa Cruz…it is very confusing.)
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The second stop was a private “british” property that had a history of celebrity. Established in —- the Siteo Litre is a gently terraced slope with ponds, a specialty orchid house, mature palms and fabulous pergolas and lattice arbors. Von Humboldt (botanist) Oscar Wilde’s father and Marriane North (Kew garden botanical illustrator) all visited and stayed at the garden.
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With a constant temperature near 23 degrees temperature ALL year long – Tenerife is an agricultural wonder. The altitude determines the lush growth up from the rugged black volcanic shores (black beaches) the plantations on the terraces and far up the steep slopes to the cloud forest of natural pine and bush.
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Back to the upper hillside mansions of Santa Cruz and the private garden and home of Risco Bella. The daughter of Belgian parents that developed this oasis still presides over the property and greets the visitors herself. Bernadette was a colorful character. Energetic and enthusiastic she shares the plant knowledge and stories of her home. I sat to sketch the house itself, wrapped in Pointsettia and hibiscus with stands of grey palm fronds and clumps of Strelitzia – bird of paradise. I showed my sketch to her before running for the waiting bus. Never enough time.
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watching the sun move across the rugged mountains near the harbour –  I sat our of the rain with a cup of tea on the ship and did a watercolor in my Moleskine. Yet to be finished.

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