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We've just returned from a lovely, relaxing stay in an optima villawhich we were very impressed with. It was spotlessly clean and had atruely welcoming welcome pack. It had everything you needed and greatfacilities. The beds were very comfortable and the bedding and towelswere really soft and good quality. We needed some help with the tv,and found the 24hour service to be prompt and very helpful. Theinstructions for finding the villa were clear and easy to follow. Thevilla itself felt very homely and cared for. The pool was wonderfuland used everyday, definitely worth the extra to have it heatedelectrically in the winter months. We are already planning our nexttrip with optima villas.[read more]
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Over the winter months, Lanzarote is a great place to visit if you want to see some floral colour. As the year round Spring like climate ensures that even in the depths of winter there are plenty of plants in flower and most of the trees remain green. Most people can now readily identify bougainvillea, the incredible climber with papery blooms that come in a range of hot, tropical colours, such as magenta, sunset orange and hot pink.
Bougainvillea is a native of Brazil but has taken easily to the warmer parts of southern Europe and especially the Canary Islands. It thrives in harsh conditions as well, preferring to have long periods of drought and root restriction. The papery bracts with all the colour are not actually the flowers; these are the small stamen like parts that are at the centre of the bracts. However, bougainvillea does need to be handled with care, because it has very sharp thorns on its branches.
Another popular splash of colour comes from the flame vine, which as its name suggests is brilliant orange. Again this is a native of Brazil, but unlike bougainvillea, it is a soft fleshy vine, that climbs upwards using its tendrils to cling on to its support. It flowers best in locations where there is a difference between day and night time temperatures.
Along many of the roads on Lanzarote, there have been mass plantings of strelitza, or bird of paradise flower. This was used as the logo for the Canary Islands in the past, as it thrives in the arid climate of the islands. It originates from South Africa though. A near relative is strelitza nicolae, which is the giant strelitza, having enormous paddle shaped leaves and an identical flower shape, although the blooms are white and dark blue.
Many Mediterranean species also thrive here, such as oleander, lavender and jasmine, while hibiscus, which are found all over the tropical regions of the world, are also commonly seen. Native species of flowering plants however, are best seen in February and March, as they come into their own after the brief wet periods during winter.
Amongst the flowers to regularly appear on the local hillsides are ox-eye daisies, poppies – both red and pink papaver poppies – blue bugloss, Canarian stock which is lilac in colour and an indigenous variety of lavender. All of these plants die back during the hotter periods of the year and then burst into life when their seeds are stimulated by the scant rainfall the island receives.