wildflower walking Holidays in the Pyrenees
an explosion of colour in wildflower-strewn meadows ~ hundreds of rare species
some of the best floral sites in Europe
In early spring, the rugged grandeur of the mountains is complemented by a profusion of flowers, equal to any in Europe for beauty and variety. This will provide great pleasure for all and a unique experience for the botanical enthusiast.
The Pyrenees is a floral crossroads where the alpine gentians, primulas and pasque flowers of northern Europe meet the wild daffodils of the Iberian peninsula. Many species are unique and such is the variety (with around 160 endemic species) that the Pyrenees are often referred to as the Flower Garden of Europe.
By June as the snow recedes and the hillsides come to life, elegant pink snowbells and pyrenean buttercups are some of the first flowers to emerge. Carpets of wild daffodils are punctuated by vibrant blue gentians, cowslips, oxslips, burnt tip orchids and swathes of pink and yellow elder-flower orchids. By running water the dramatic yellows of marsh marigolds and globeflowers can be seen from afar, whilst closer inspection reveals purple large-flowered butterworts, dainty pink birds-eye primroses and a dazzling array of moisture loving orchids.
While out in the open, the feathery plumes of the Pyrenean asphodel reach for the skies, the equally stunning St Bruno, St Bernard and martagon lillies, can often be found nestling in shady spots.
Two endemics worthy of particular note are the Ramonda (often found in shady crevices with purple flowers rising from rosettes of fleshy green leaves); and in the limestone rocks and crags, the striking Saxifraga longifolia both of which you will not see anywhere else in the world. For a few weeks in June the delicate Lady’s Slipper also flowers in the Valle de Tena, which is so rare all viewings are conducted under the watchful eye of a local guard!
By July two more beauties unique to the Pyrenees emerge and flood the slopes: the electric blue flowers and the silver prickly leaves of the Eryngium bourgattii and the large, elegant and purple English Iris. Great yellow gentians and false helleborines burst into flower. Simultaneously delicate spring squills, cross gentians, dark red helleborine and Edelweiss continue to enchant walkers.
Even as late as August and September, some flowers are still emerging for the first time such as the proud blue and yellow monkshoods, the deep purple cups of the autumn crocus, and the large sunflower like heads of the stemless Carline Thistle.
Whilst we do not offer dedicated flower walks in the Pyrenees, throughout June the easier of our two organised walks is likely to provide walkers, who are also flower enthusiasts, with plenty of opportunities to enjoy the amazing flora that is on display at this time of year.
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