Iberia VII

We left Portugal a week or so ago, well before the terrible fires in central Portugal. Some of these pictures are from Coimbra, a university town about 50 km north-west from the worst hit areas. Others are around Lisbon, and then further north, to the beautiful city of Porto and its Douro valley, all well away from the fires. I feel a little uncomfortable showing essentially holiday snaps when so many have suffered, but it feels right to be reminded of the beauty of life, and of Portugal.

Starting with the coastline and some of the coastal vegetation near Cabo da Roca (near Azoia), the westernmost tip of continental Europe.

And these are two funky homes near Sintra: Quinta da Regaleira and the Park and Palace of Pena. The gardens were both very good, but I can't fit everything into this 'lite' post... 

Now heading northward in Portugal. Despite the botanic garden at Coimbra now being the country's major botanic garden, much of it is neglected and fenced off. The formal garden is still pretty, and they have a pretty big (and old) Moreton Bay Fig (Ficus macrophylla) from Australia.

There are also some interesting new plantings, such as this Acer pseudoplantanus 'Atropurpurea', a Sycamore with beautifully tinted leaves.

Coimbra is home to Portugal's oldest and most prestigious university, and its sumptuous library, Biblioteca Joanina. Where famously, the books are protected by resident insect-eating bats (meaning the tables need to be covered each night and the floors cleaned each morning). No pictures allowed inside but here is the grandiose exterior.

Then, for us, it was on to Mata do Cucaco, near Luso, to see an over the top house and garden built in the early 1900s. Here you can see a fine old Bunya Pine (Araucaria bidwillii), again from Australia.

And more fancy hedge work..

Plus a folly or two in the huge woods (Mata Nacional do Bucaco) that surround the house (with all the trees - native and planted - protected by Papal Bull).

To Porto, a stunning city, for it's new (roof top olive trees), facades and a waterfront to rival Sydney Harbour. (Yes I know this is straying from plants and gardens, but look at the views!)

Then out of town, along the Rio Duoro and nearby valleys, vines and olives. Gorgeous human-designed landscapes...