Dendroflora of the Liburnian coast (Opatija's winter floral postcard)

Priroda City-country, Flora, Interesting facts, News

PHOTO 1. THE FRAGRANT EASTERN SWEETSHRUB IS AMONG THE FIRST IN THE YEAR TO BLOSSOM. ANGIOLINA PARK, JANUARY 16, 2019 (PHOTO BY M. RANDIĆ)

A string of nice, sunny days in the first half of January has caused several lovely species of dendroflora to blossom in the sheltered parks of Opatija. In Angiolina Park, in front of the nursery-garden, along the path leading to the Swiss House, bushes of the fragrant eastern sweetshrub (Calycanthus floridus) are in full bloom. Even before we see the bushes, we will catch their wonderful sweet fragrance on the breeze and be lured to find its source. These “perfumed corridors” will unfailingly guide us to the eastern sweetshrubs’ blossoming  branches (Photo 2) (https://ju-priroda.hr/2017/04/zimski-cvijet-rani-ili-mirisni-kimonant-chimonanthus-praecox/).

PHOTO 2. THE BLOSSOMING BRANCHES OF THE FRAGRANT EASTERN SWEETSHRUB BECKON US TO TAKE A WINTER STROLL IN ANGIOLINA PARK. THEY ARE ALSO AN ACCEPTABLE SOURCE OF NECTAR FOR THE YEAR’S FIRST INSECT POLLINATORS (PHOTO BY M. RANDIĆ)

Camellias are another of the park’s winter decorations that we should seek out. We can find them not far from Villa Angiolina in an enclosed area that highlights their diversity. Although the camellias are mostly still dormant, their flower buds are swollen, waiting for the weather to become a bit warmer before they fully blossom. Some early varieties – such as the bushes planted near the park’s  north exit – are already in full bloom. There we came across lush flowerheads of the red variety, while the white variety and cream-coloured and pink variety were just beginning to blossom.

PHOTO 3. THE PURPLE-RED CAMELLIA IS ONE OF THE EARLIEST FLOWERING VARIETIES (PHOTO BY M. RANDIĆ)

PHOTO 4. IN THESE COLD DAYS, THE CREAM-COLOURED AND PINK VARIETY OF CAMELLIA SEEMS TO RADIATE WARMTH FROM THE HEART OF ITS FLOWER (PHOTO BY M. RANDIĆ)

PHOTO 5. THE REDDISH-WHITE VARIETY NEEDS THE PROTECTION OF AN OPEN GREENHOUSE (PHOTO BY M. RANDIĆ)

We can also find certain fruiting species in the parks in winter. The conspicuous fruit of the holly (Ilex aquifolium) clings to the branches throughout the winter. The holly signals to birds – black birds, in particular – that they can feed on its fruit when other, tastier food runs short.

M. R.

PHOTO 6. THE BRIGHT-RED FRUIT OF THE HOLLY (PHOTO BY M. RANDIĆ)