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Chile 6 - Patagonia


By AndrewR


This blog covers the last few days of my holiday in Chile.

After the rain forests at Puerto Montt, we flew south to Patagonia. The thing you remember here is the wind! It is relentless and strong, so much so you need to have your ears covered for much of the time. Most of Patagonia is very flat but there are some mountainous areas and it was to these we headed for our final lodgings. This was the view outside the chalets

Two very similar shrubs to be found here are escallonia alpina

and escallonia rubra

It may be they are just the same shrub with variations in the flower colour

We had seen several violas with yellow flowers during the trip, but viola maculata is readily identified by its pointed leaves

Olsynium biflorum grows a couple of feet tall in open places. Despite the name, it carries up to seven flowers on each stem

Hypochaeris incana is much shorter and reminds me of a white dandelion

There are two very distinct caleolarias growing on the sides of the mountains. This is calceolaria biflora, known locally as Ladies Slipper

Calceolaria uniflora is easy to recognise – there is nothing like it. It grew on open, windswept hillsides, facing south (so receiving little or no direct sun) in soil that was constantly moist but not waterlogged – not an easy environment to replicate in cultivation

Also growing in moist spots were large colonies of geum magellanica

We only found one plant of solenomelus segethii, a small bulb in the iris family. These are closely related to sisyrinchiums (which we also saw)

Another rarity was the alpine, alstroemeria patagonica, related to alstroemeria ligtu grown in British gardens. We found just one small group growing near the top of a hill

Despite the forecast of rain, we had four dry days in Patagonia. There were only two wet days during the entire trip (and one of those was mainly spent travelling in the van). We saw a huge number of plants in flower and only two evaded us from our initial lists. I had hoped to finish with the obligatory sunset picture but we never saw a really good one, so instead I’ll leave you with my enduring memory of Chile, the land of fire and ice

(with thanks to R.Horswood who supplied four of these photos after my camera played up)

More blog posts by AndrewR

Previous post: Chile 5 - Chilean Orchids

Next post: Spring Has Sprung



just fascinating and that view is second to none - i dont think i would have wanted to leave. some amazing plants, what a brilliant trip.

28 Jan, 2011


great blog and a very special place indeed. if there was one plant you saw you could of have brought back what would it have been?

29 Jan, 2011


Such lovely plants to see. It was nice to see a plant from my garden, the Geum, in their natural habitat. That solenomelus segethii is quite pretty, I would love that, and the Escallonia rubra.

29 Jan, 2011


i wondered the same as you skipscanda, i should think its hard to pick out highlights when everything was that good! i would want to bring back the view but as thats not possible it would have to be a lily or is that a chilean flame bush at the end?

29 Jan, 2011


What a trip you've had Andrew, great plants you've seen. I may have missed somewhere along the line, but was this an organised plant hunting trip?

29 Jan, 2011


Sticki - we had four nights at the last stop and kept rushing out to try and get a photo with those mountains clear of cloud. When they finally cleared on the last night, I knew it was time to come home. Just after I took it, we got the news that Heathrow was closed and the whole of the country at a standstill so we did wonder whether we would get back.
I'm trying to grow the flame bush, it's reached seven feet but no flowers so far

Skip - there were so many outstanding plants but I think the ourisia poeppigii (scarlet flower by the running water) was my absolute favourite

Pamd - it was a botanising holiday. The guy leading it had put it together so he knew where the plants should be and, hopefully, we would be there at the right time to see them in flower. Sometimes, it's just a matter of luck - when you find just one solenomelus in flower, half way up a mountain, in the whole of Chile, you know you've had a good trip!

29 Jan, 2011


Do you give lectures to your local garden clubs Andrew? We could do with you down here in Cornwall. Talk & slides to our Alpine Garden Society ??

31 Jan, 2011


Pam - my friend Gill and I give talks locally (about one a month); we are currently taking bookings for 2012.
Richard Horswood (mentioned above) lives in Devon and gives talks too and he is a member of the Alpine Garden Society. I know he was talking about putting together a talk on Chile so if you'd like to contact him, send me a message and I'll give you his e-mail address

31 Jan, 2011

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