Amazing Summer colour in the hills this year..
One of the earliest memories of my childhood in Ireland features my father talking of “the furze blooming yellow in the hills”..and this vague, and perhaps not entirely real, recollection of infancy often resonates within me in early Summer in the mountains of Spain. The tough bush-like plants that blossom in a blaze of yellow in the Iberian highlands are not usually furze (Ulex, or tojo in Spanish) but two kinds of broom, generally known as piorno locally. In some ways quite similar to furze but of a different genus (Cytisus), these piornos have a host of other popular names: retama negra/amarilla, escoba amarilla/negra/serrana, ginesta, (h)iniesta, xiniesta and more.
Large numbers of piorno bushes growing together are referred to as piornales..and this last week the upper reaches of Peñalara seemed like one immense piornal, radiating not only an intense yellow colour but also an intense aroma. That morning i could smell it from the train as we travelled over Valsaín.
It’s not unusual to see great spreads of yellow on the opposite side, looking to Cabezas and Valdemartín..but this year seems to be the turn of Peñalara and Dos Hermanas. Of course it’s not only yellow, there’s also a little white still to be seen on this side..
Indeed not only is the snow still holding out, but there are some quite extensive snowfields above 2200m, particularly one between the two Hermanas. This is quite normal for June..though much less than the extensions observed the last two years, years which were exceptional in snowfall.
I already blogged about beautiful broom a couple of years back: Summer comes in a blaze of broom.