Visiting Cadaques, Salvador Dali’s home in northern Cataluyna in springtime you can see straight away where he got his inspiration.
First there are the crazy cloud formations, apparently strays from the trumontana winds that gust through here at this time of year. Then the trees — all sculpted and pollarded, to provide maximum shade – umbrella-pruned citrus trees, the giant, sinewy feet of Figus microphylla fromm which the tree gets its common name — elephant tree- topped with knobbly fists from which the leaves are just starting to burst.
Then there are the mulberries, pollarded to within an inch of their lives. This is to restrain them and to restrict the growth of fruit. They have a strange beauty, like gnarly trees in a fairytale forest.
Go to Dali’s garden, and you can see these ideas from nature played out everywhere. In one courtyard, a giant, white-painted pot contains an olive tree and spills over with white geraniums. The pot seems to grow at a skewed angle out of the crazy paving. The craziness of the shapes in the paving themselves are highlighted with thick, fat lines of white paint.
Turn a corner, and there’s a garden bench that looks like its been hewn haphazardly out of the rock. The fun continues with a white plaster Michelin man soaking up the shade by the pool in a white chair under the spines of a tamarisk tree.
But Dali loved the natural world too. On the green terraces that overlook the sea, wild flowers cluster everywhere. Red corydalis, Lupins, Orchids, Lavender and Rosemary.