This year, even the usually costive apple ‘Court Plat Pendu’, which usually gives us five tiny apples, which we forget to eat, gave us fifty. The other twelve trees did likewise.
The guilt was insupportable. Even after every box and tray was filled, every jar filled with jellies, jams, pickles, and the kitchen table occluded by demi-johns bubbling away with enthusiasm, three trees were uncropped, and beneath the others the blackbirds could scarcely fly the cats, so weighted were they with windfalls.
Taking the hint, I fled. To Tenerife. Except for the hotel breakfast, not an apple to be seen. And they lay largely hidden beneath peaches and mangoes, bananas, guavas… And having expected a barren volcanic land, we found some absolutely terrific gardens boasting bromeliads and bougainvilleas, an infinity of palm species, whole borders of strelitzias and more.
First up, was indeed so, high above the hotel, ancient, but now finding itself embedded in a posh modern suburb of Puerto de la Cruz. Officially called Jardín de Aclimatación de la Orotava, it was originally set up in 1792 as somewhere to store South American and African plants, to see if they would so alter their constitutions as to suit the less balmy conditions of mainland Spain. Of course, plants don’t do this with any human-scaled speed, so the garden became seven acres, palatially walled, of gorgeous jungle.
Even if you don’t care for philodendrons, tropical ferns, cannas, hedychiums, aloes and agaves, palms with silver blue and dangerously spined leaves, clambering cactuses, heliconias, perfumed waterlilies, a pine found only in the Canaries, you’ll be enchanted. Do, though, avoid dusk. The garden is almost centred on an enormous banyan tree. Its net of dangling roots are said to engulf lingering tourists, digest them overnight, leaving not even bones.