Back late to PO after a muddled spring in the UK, but somehow the muddle persisted, with our beloved old campervan spending two weeks in the very friendly and competent local garage. One day, we took our old Citroen up to the upland we always simply call “the Batère”, in order to get away from the phone, and had the usual lovely day up there, watching marmots and looking at the wonderful display of spring flowers.
We stopped regularly to photograph them, and remarked, as ever, on the incredible diversity; wherever we stopped, there were more, and different flowers in bloom. We started wondering quite how many species, throughout the spring, summer and autumn, actually flourish up here. A comprehensive survey would be an enormous task, and one which we are far too lazy and disorganised to do!
We halted at the col between two of the rounded hills above the road to the old tower, and enjoyed the view of Canigou and valleys to the west and north. Below the rocky area at the col, the ground slopes away quite steeply, and is moderately wooded, with a lot of smallish pines. These may be quite young, or, as likely, limited in their growth by the altitude and strong winds. Looking, however, at a small sample of the flowers blooming on the slope, it seems probable that the small trees represent regeneration from the neighbouring densely wooded and rocky slopes, over former high-level meadowland. I wandered around looking at the flowers…
We had seen gentians on the way up, with one of the lovely trumpet-shaped type (Gentiana acaulis); here there were lots of those with the central white spot to the flower (Gentiana verna). There was a tiny forgetmenot, possibly Myosotis alpestris, although it looked much more compact than in the illustrations I could find, and something which looked rather like a meadow saxifrage. (This may have been Saxifraga granulata.) Reminding me of the Highlands were some beautiful mountain everlasting (Antennaria dioica), tiny and complex, but the star of those immediately around us were the big yellow anemone-like Pulsatilla alpina subspecies apiifolia, which, being in the ranunculus family, is rather closer to the buttercups. Some of them, like the gentians, looked a little wilted, due no doubt to the winds we had been having.