After reading an article a friend wrote about a conversation he overheard recently as to people’s perception of what to expect in the North v South of Tenerife, it made me think how many times have I read that other old favourite … “The north of Tenerife is lush and green while the south is a barren desert”. OH has spent some time in the Sahara Desert and he says people have no idea what barren is and I have got to agree after visiting Death Valley.
For anyone who has not been to the island this type of statement while not untrue is misleading. However, it is backed up by those who make the common mistake of thinking that the strip of land they see either side of the TF1 motorway as they take the bus from the airport is all there is until you get to the tourist resorts.
Admittedly, the north of the island does appeal to those seeking a “green and pleasant land” its beauty is reminiscent of many places in the UK, in some ways perhaps it is better as it is unsullied by modern industrial life. It is stuffed to the brim with gardens and parks not only the Jardin Botanico, but Sitio Litre, La Bananera El Guanche, The Old Gardens at Martiánez, Park Taoro, Las Cabezas and Risco Bell. Even the Hotel Tigaiga has spectacular sub-tropical gardens where a guide is happy to give you a plant tour for free. So is all this greenery due to the amount of rain the north receives? Not really, many seem to forget that a lot of the moisture comes from the Trade Winds that blow from the north and produce a build up of cloud on the north of the island. Where the clouds hit the slopes, the high level of humidity ‘waters’ the farms and sub-tropical vegetation.
Whilst the south is affected less than the north, it does not mean we do not get our fair share of moisture. Our tiny island has so many different faces, packed into a small geographical area – as Shakespeare said, a “precious stone set in a silver sea”. This diversity of both landscape and weather is what makes Tenerife unique. The south may not have the chocolate box greenery of the north but during the winter months, it is anything but barren and desert-like. Unlike the north, I am not aware of any botanical gardens in the south; instead, our cultivated plants are in abundance throughout the resorts. Every roundabout and roadside edge is planted and kept immaculate.
To me, the word desert conjures images of arid wastelands and outside of the resorts, we have lots of wasteland, at least when summer temperatures rise and it can regularly reach 30C with no rain for weeks on end. However, at this time of the year as I walk my dog along the terraces on the rough land (we call it a park as Chayofa is a bit posh!) a transformation takes place. The wasteland is given a makeover – it is breathtakingly beautiful in a rugged sort of way. Wild garlic and the showy lantana suddenly emerge from beneath the cactus and the mixture of grass and weed give the impression of lush green meadows. Bougainvillea creeps over every terrace wall and a kaleidoscope of colours splash the horizon as buds, leaves, and blossoms spring forth and pollen fills the air. With all this beauty around us I think it is a shame that many believe the only reason to visit the south is for the sun, sea and sand.
I would like to thank Tenerife Forum members InPalmMar, cainaries, doctordo for providing the plant names for me and a special thanks to Jackie-B because she did not know what they were (lol) but is always supportive.