A tale of three gardens. Hola

It’s amazing how fast things grow when you turn your back on a garden. Weeds especially. I think we have the national collection of bind weed in Somerset.

I hadn’t done a winter clear as the ground had been too wet. We hadn’t been around much. And I’ve picked up a bit of mañana syndrome. But needs must and last weekend I knew I had to do one thing. Prune roses. They weren’t pruned last year at all. A fail I know but the year before was a good pruning. Especially as I had Mrs Shouty as a guide and mentor for pruning the apple trees and the roses. Mrs Shouty -= Sara Venn.

So I hacked the roses. Some are old. Some probably need to be replaced. I will review at the end of the summer to see what’s what after flowering. But I pruned. I got attacked by the curse of the thorns. I have had my tetanus jab.

I tidied up a bit – well I cut the perennials back to the ground and then the rain came. Lots of it. So it’s still there to be taken away. On top of the bind weed.

Yes. There is smoke. But it’s Ian burning paperwork. Old bills. There is a bonfire there ready to start next time. A great big bonfire.

We bought a mirabelle plum a few years ago. It has fruited. Now great at the beginning. Some years the frost got the blossom and there was little or no fruit. But they are delicious. This year there is blossom a plenty. But watching what ever storm was passing through on Saturday shaking the tree and scattering the blossom filled me with gloom. If it’s not the frost that gets the blossom it’s the wind. Hopefully there will be plenty of fruit this year.

There are benefits of leaving last years flowers through Autumn and Winter . The colour of this sedum is great. And I haven’t cut it back. Not yet anyway.

Oh. I was also distracted. By a dahlia talk at the local horticultural society.

It’s a different tale back in London. The only cutting back I’ve done is to the Melianthus major which was tall and leggy. So armed with information and a decent secateurs I cut it low. Fingers crossed I’ll get flowers.

The garden in London is different. It’s small. More a courtyard garden and is sheltered. We have a typical London micro climate. I still have geraniums flowering from last year and are gaining growth at a rate of knots.

The Bowles Mauve is budding up well and will soon have a lovely scent when it opens. It’s a solid little plant and does really well

I can’t believe we have blossom on the citrus in the garden. And lots of it. Hopefully a bit more sun. A bit more warmth and these lovely flowers will open and there will be an orange blossom scent above the chair. Not that I can sit and read there. It’s there for one reason. Well three reasons. It’s the cats chair. Well one of their chairs.

If I was surprised at the blossom I am even more surprised to see a couple of tiny small fruits developing. Fingers crossed they will get bigger. I’ve been out and poo’d my plants including the citrus. The first feed of 2019. Using Lous Poo – alpaca feed

There is growth on the clematis. Early I think but never the less welcome. It’s only in the last two years that it’s done well.

Ian’s not a gardener. But he knows what he likes. Tree ferns for example. It was Ian’s ides to have tree ferns in the garden. I didn’t expect to have 5. But we have and I love them. I need to feed these once I take out the straw from the crown!

But they have survived in the garden for about 12 years and last year I didn’t fleece them or put straw in the crown when the the beast of the east arrived suddenly. But they survived.

One of my plant loves is agapanthus and I’m lucky to have them in both the London garden and the one in Spain. Again they need a feed if I’m going to get a great big show off spectacle of flowers.

I have just bought agapanthus black Buddhist from Farmer Gracy for the Spanish garden which was delivered last week.

We have a lot of blue and white in the garden here and there. There and here depending where I am – but I’d like to introduce some different ones. The ones in the garden have self seeded here and there and spring up everywhere.

The tulips in the window boxes are through – I planted them late but are growing pretty fast. There are new colours this year. I didn’t grow any in Spain as the ones I tried last year were pants. That’s not a variety. It was the outcome.

The jasmine is almost to the top of the downpipe and is heavy with flower buds. You know those pinky red little buds that open to a fabulous white scented flower. Add a bit of Trachelospermum a bit later and you have a succession of scent. I lost one last year but the other two are doing ok. Add the scent of my straggly honeysuckle to next door’s rampant one poking over the fence and we have the summer scents sorted.

Spain is weeks ahead of London and Somerset. In Spain the jasmine is out already as the weather has warmed up. Though I see we have two weeks of rain coming. Last March was wet. Very wet. So far we have had a dry spell since October when the reservoirs filled to the top. Great for the garden. Great for the reservoir and our storage tank. But…..

The freesia are brilliant again this year. Bought from Peter Nyssen and shipped to Spain – they look and smell fantastic. I must try some in pots in London next.

It is such a contrast between the three gardens – which I will admit is one too many. Somerset is at the end of a season and the start of another. It needs a good cut back. London had a central city micro climate and its small and sheltered. There is no way I could grow tree ferns in Somerset or Spain.

Spain is obviously very different. Whilst we are 650 m above sea level in the cooler mountains the season is well under way with colour and scent in March already. Plus we have plenty of green with the agave dotted around the garden.

The almond blossom continues. Ours had been and gone and they were pretty heavy with flowers. The mimosa is starting to come out on our bank. In other gardens it’s over already. I’ve seen the leaves of the wild orchids poking through and the bee orchids in a neighbours garden. We had thought we may have lost some as we had

There’s enough to keep me going for now. There are lists. And lists of lists. My lists. Ian’s lists.

I have some more things to plant Colocasia Black Magic. Bessara elegans, Watsonia peach glow, Roscoea purpurea, Anomatheca laxa, Lycoris radiata to start and some Canna. These are for Spain and came from Farmer Gracy – great find.

I bought , on Ian’s instruction a big colocasia at the localmspsnish garden centre to add to the Mojhito that I bought last year.

Don’t tell Ian but I’ve got Canna on order from Todd’s botanics for London as well as some new white agapanthus.

There’s no peace for the wicked.

Six on Saturday 2/3 Spain

The weather has been good this week. Some chilly nights and early mornings but the daytime temperatures have been good.

Things are suddenly shooting up and there are buds forming and new flowers opening. But we haven’t had any rain here in Andalucia for weeks. And there is only a drop forecast for next week. Which as we know can change daily.

Strelitzia Reginae

The Strelitzia Reginae continue to delight. The one in a large pot has one open flower with four more in various stages. The ones planted in the garden are not as large and flower less frequently. This is one of those that is flowering now. There are a further four spikes in various plants to come so there should be a succession of flowers for a few months. They are such a beautiful flower. The Strelitzia Nicolai shows no sign of flowering yet. But that flower is not on a spike it just appears from the side of the plant.


We saw this Colocasia at the local garden centre stuck in a corner where we were getting a coffee. Asked if it was for sale. It was so home it came. For now it’s still in its pot on the terrace. But the leaves are large and very lovely. It may just stay there.


The flowers of the cistus have started to come out slowly this year. A lovely colour and they look like crepe paper. Eventually there will be seed heads. But for now I’ll enjoy the flowers!


Now I have to admit I’m not a huge lover of the Swiss cheese plant. We always had one of these and a rubber plant as houseplants as we were growing up. But this one is planted in the garden. It’s doing well so it can stay and I’m getting to like it more. There are massive ones in La Conception gardens in Malaga ( Botanical Gardens) which are growing in the shade. I don’t expect this one to get that big.

Orange blossom

We have two orange trees in the garden. Last year one had no fruit. The other had a moderate crop. There is blossom on both trees this year. One more than the other but there are loads of gorgeous white flowers. The scent is already lovely but when the majority opens it will be awesome.

Foxtail agave

This one sadly isn’t mine. It’s a photo I took when we were at the beach yesterday. But we have three Foxtail Agave in the garden. Two in pots and one in the garden and they are a big favourite of mine. But I was instantly struck by the flower. I have seen them dotted around but haven’t be able to get this close to one. It’s simply stunning.

Six on Saturday 23/2

The garden here in Spain has a lot of Osteospermum. All brightly coloured and many which have self seeded. A welcome sight at this time of year.

I was at the garden centre locally this week to pick up some soil and compost to do some re potting and was about to pay for it when I saw a batch of Osteospermum that I hadn’t seen earlier in the week. And which caught my eye.

So As they are so very different to the ones I have in the garden already I just had to have them. Didn’t I?

They are now awaiting planting.

I understand that when they self seed as no doubt they will do they will not seed true to the existing colour. But hey. As long as I keep the originals going I’ll be happy!

Warm days. Cold nights.

Well there’s still no sign of rain. Heavy downpours were forecast for Monday. Was I excited? You bet. Something I’d never have thought would get me so excited. Rain. So I didn’t water the new plants Why waste an expensive commodity when it was going to chuck it down for free. Cats and dogs. Wet rain.

But guess what? We didn’t even have a drop. Nothing. A heavy dew. But the only thing that was wet was my bottom as I sat on the chair to have my morning coffee.

The early mornings are chilly. As are the evenings. Late afternoon has been lovely and a great time to get out and do. Things have started to move with a vengeance. Not me obviously. That’s more snail like.

Dietes grandiflora

So I watered. Not a lot. The ground is still wet if you poke around a bit. It surprises me what I see for the first time when casually throwing a bit of water about. Like this Dietes grandiflora – fairy iris. I planted two at the end of the summer and there have been flowers on and off since. This is a new one I planted after Christmas and it’s flowering. Well. I say flowering = there is one flower and another in bud. But it’s a pretty little thing.


I’m cutting the oleander back a bit. It’s grown quite tall and I have cut some of it back quite hard. ( hacked actually). But it will grow back again quickly. Careful when pruning as it’s another poisonous plant. But one or two still had their glorious seed heads or is it pods? They are pretty gorgeous. Not every variety in the garden has them. I know not why.

Jacaranda seed

Talking seed heads – here’s one on the Jacaranda. I have a love/hate relationship with this tree. It’s too large and needs to be cut back. Not by me. But a professional. But this season it’s not lost its leaves. So it hasn’t been done. It still has some of its seed heads on the tree and they are a bit spooky. Whilst I love both the seed head and the flowers it’s the flowers that drive me insane. Gorgeous blue colour. Which don’t last that long and end up all over the ground. I can spend hours sweeping the path – I know. I need the exercise.


I love a bit of scent in the garden. I’m a sucker for freesia and planted a load last year which were brilliant. Tall strong stems. Gorgeous colours and a brilliant perfume. I planted more this year and they are going great guns.

I found a large aspidistra down on the coast. Not literally but at the garden centre. They use these a lot in the inner courtyards so I thought I have a bit of a shady spot on the terrace. So I did. We stayed in a lovely hotel in Seville and they had them in their open area in the centre of the building. That got me hooked. I need to sort the pot.

We have had the big ferns in plastic pots. I’ve wanted to repot them but finding pots we both likes proved difficult. We found these and bought them. We then realised we needed two more. Off we trotted to the coast. Again. I said we had the light option. Ian said that we bought the darker. It was only yesterday he said. I know but the two colours aren’t miles apart. He said the darker. I said the lighter so we went for the lighter. Got them home and it was the darker. Never mind. They will do as I’m not going round the mountain once again. .

There are a number of succulents in the garden. No matter how many times I look up theirs names I can never remember what I’ve been told.

This is one – a pretty orange. Looks a bit like lipsticks. But they will open in the sun. But try and get a decent picture when they open. I tried. And failed.

The bank on the access road has a number of trees, last year I was having an afternoon cuppa with the neighbours and we looked up to see what looked like smoke. So off we went to investigate. It was the pollen on the plants being blown away by the wind. So no smoke. But hay fever instead.

Citron Buddhas hand

The citron buddhas hand is still hanging in there. Literally. There are a fair few new flowers about to open. But the fruit hasn’t been setting on the older flowers. I need to consult my citrus book.


The alliums I planted are all coming through. The allium summer drummer is running away with itself. I’m glad I planted more this year. This isn’t summer drummer. It’s either a white or globe master. Or maybe it’s…. I know. I said I’d label better.

I love a bit of scent in the garden and I love jasmine. White. Perfumed. We also have a jasmine azoricum which has the sweetest scent.


It’s not been all gardening. Don’t ask. It’s been a bit of a week. But I managed to get out for a walk along the road close to la Casa. Some interesting things to see. I should do it more.

Daucus Carota

There is a lot of Daucs carota about in flowering season. Now the ones that remain have been dried and look fantastic.


There are almond trees along the road and are in various stages of bloom. Surprisingly some have almonds forming already. The three I have in our garden are still flowering. Nowhere near having any almonds form. I’m hoping this years crop is better than last.

Almond blossom

it’s interesting to see what’s about. These lovely stone walls are fantastic.

Sadly my crop of olives equalled one. Yes. One olive. Last year I had enough to make a few jars of salt cured olives. Well this year I can put the one single olive on a cocktail stick and saunter to the open fire to warm my cold bones. And eat my one olive.


There’s nothing like a bit of Mimosa. There are two or three types around us here. This was in a garden on my walk. Again a bit of flower envy as our mimosa is still In tight tight buds. But when it opens then bank will be awash with yellow. Another that needs pruning after flowering. It’s a straggly tree.

We have also been to the coast. Up and down the wiggly road. In Nerja there are fantastic agaves along the beach. With tall elegant flower spikes. Which a friend said that looked like giant asparagus. Another says they look rude. Whatever they look like they look magnificent.

Hello Agave

I also have plant envy. So much I bought another one for the garden. A friend bought one for us back last year. It’s still alive. But not doing much. So I bought one for a bit of instant colour. That did well. But now it’s looking a bit sad. Not like this one in Nerja. This is the one that got me started.

Flame vine

There is still so much to so. Hacking the pomegranate for one. Tomorrow’s another day.

Six on Saturday.

The garden is certainly coming to life. The sun is shining. The birds are singing and we haven’t had any significant rain for a while. Though Monday looks like it’s going to be wet.

Jacaranda tree

The jacaranda hasn’t lost its leaves. Which is a bit of a ‘b’ as we have been waiting to cut it back. It’s too big for where it is. Gorgeous blue flowers. Lovely seed heads/pods. Is it one or the other!

iJasmine buds and flowers

There is jasmine everywhere. The yellow jasmine has been flowering for a while. Pretty but no scent. This one is about to follow by the door and a window. Will get a lovely smell in the sunshine wafting indoors. We have another – jasmine Azoricum which is fab and for me has the best scent.


More scented bulbs. I grew freséis last year and they were a great success. Bulbs bought from Peter Nyssen and they have come back as big and as strong this year. Long sturdy stems with gorgeous bejewelled colours. Just as well I have planted a load more.

Citron Buddha hand

The fruit of the citron buddhas hand is looking a bit sad. I need to pick it and use the zest. Good for nothing else. Hardly any fruit or pith. But a definite talking point in the garden. There are a number of flower buds waiting to burst open.


I love Clivia but In the uk used it as a house plant. Last year when I visited the Malaga botanical gardens I saw whole beds of them in shade. So the back end of July I bought some for the garden. Yey they are flowering in year 2 again.

A nest of processionary caterpillar!

Not all pretty pretty. I have found two processionary caterpillar nests in the garden. Up in the pine trees. So Monday will be a visit to a man that can.

They need to be removed and I’m not the man for the job.

Six on Saturday Spain – 1/2019

I love this Agave. We have three in the garden. This one is on the ground and we have two in pots.

The Níspero/loquats are setting. Gorgeous big fat leaves. The fruit don’t travel well and bruise easily. I’m hoping to jam these this year. If I get enough.

I so love the Strelitzia Reginae. This plant is in a pot on the terrace. It has flowered pretty consistently all year. Currently there are seven spikes to flower. Seems to flower better than the ones planted in the ground.

I was first introduced to Clivia by a Blue Peter Gardener as a house plant when in Somerset. I’m now lucky to be growing them in the garden encouraged by seeing them in the Botanical garden in Malaga. The buds just starting to poke through the glossy leaves.

We have a lot of these agaves around the banks and in the garden. These are the largest in a piece of ground we don’t garden and are a pretty decent size.

The Euphorbia Candelabrum is a decent heigh and is planted in a pot. I have had to tie it to railings because it gets blown over in the wind. It’s doing well. Unlike its partner who had its top blown off in the wind.

The start of a new gardening year – Spain

It’s nearly two years now since we viewed the garden. Sorry. I mean viewed La Casa. Bit of a slip of the tongue there. My second January in the garden. I can’t quite believe how quickly the time has gone but I put it down to losing that hour every time I return to the UK.

What is good is the ability now to look back on last years posts and see where we are now to where we were then. Some things are further ahead. Some are way behind. The Orange blossom is later. It’s only now starting to bud. This time last year it was out.

One or two losses. A couple of mistakes.

We had rains in October and November in 2018 but none in the same period in 2017. The major rain in 2018 was in the Spring.

The one thing that the autumn rain did ( other than a welcome filling of the reservoirs ) was to make bulb planting easier! Last year I needed a pick axe to plant my bulbs. No. I’m serous the ground was that solid. I realised why there was a pick axe in the garage.

But the alliums are all planted. I lie. There are a few I forgot and I’m going to plant them anyway. As they say in Spain. Mañana.

So I’m back a la Casa and there’s work to be done. The weeds won’t weed themselves. The terrace won’t sweep itself and I need to check on what’s doing well. What I need to move and replace. Hopefully not a lot as getting my motivation going at the moment is like kick starting a jumbo jet.

But there will be lists. Ian’s lists for me to do. My lists for me to do. Lists to remind me of the lists.

Casa Verano Eterno

One of the joys of this time of year is the Australian wisteria climbing over the garden entrance. It’s such a fabulous colour and is in full flower now. A pretty vigorous grower, loved by bees and is a welcome sight to greet you as you arrive.


I’m going to try one in the garden in London. Typically a conservatory plant in the UK, our garden is quite sheltered and has a bit of a micro climate. So I can but try.


I think I am also going to try and get a dodonea for London as well. Pretty insignificant spring flowers but the leaf colouring is great. Self seeds quite a bit but I’ve had no luck in transplanting them when they have grown big enough to move. But I think worth growing for the colour. Not sure how it will do in a pot. But. Nothing ventured. Nothing gained. It will give some great colour to the garden. Now to find a supplier in the UK.

Almond blossom

I’ve had severe almond blossom envy. Wherever you drive in the campo here you see glorious displays of almond blossom. Masses of gorgeous blossom which has survived the recent high winds. It seems glued on.

There is the white blossom. And the pink one. Now don’t ask me the difference as I don’t know. Other than the colour obviously. Ours is the less showey kind. But still lovely. Still a bit jealous of the neighbours trees though as they have the gorgeous white.

Last year the almond crop was pants. Not a huge crop and it’s a faff to extract the nut and then dry them. But it is worth it to get fresh almonds from the garden. Next job is to crack them open.


I have a love/hate relationship with bougainvillea. I love the one my neighbour has in their garden. Draping itself seductively over the wall. I hate ours. Not all the time. This visit there is one lovely flower display. So I look at it and think. Lovely colour. Lovely flower. Yep. You have been let off. You can stay.

But this ones not a great show off of a plant. Which is what I want it to be against the white of the garage wall. We will see. It’s reprieved for now. I have looked at a similar picture for last year. Taken a week earlier and cried. It was better last year.

Golden Mimosa

Talking of envy this golden mimosa is growing in our neighbours garden. We have a couple of mimosa trees on the bank of the florist type. You know the type Small round flower heads full of pollen. A hay fever sufferers nightmare. Last year I thought there was a fire on the bank. Clouds of smoke every now and again wafting in the air. I then realised it was pollen off the mimosa in the wind.

Ours is later than this one but should be flowering in about two to three weeks and is currently full of buds. The trees are tall and spindly and could do with a cut back. So cut back they will after flowering. And after I get a chance to pick some to bring indoors.


Two years ago when we were looking for a house here we stayed at a fab B&B. Out walking on the second day we passed a house which had freesias growing in the garden. My parents had a few pots back in the 80’s and I loved the perfume of them.

Every time we walked past these it threw back memories of my parents garden. So I knew I had to have some if we bought a place in Spain. So I did. I planted them for the spring of 2018 and they were amazing. Long stems. Colourful flowers. Amazing scent . What more could you ask for? How about asking for more for 2019 spring. So at the moment I have last years flowering again. Whilst this years are running away with themselves so I will have the scent of them for a while yet.

Colcososia mojito

The leaves may look a bit scraggy but let me tell you. They are amazing. Colocasia mojito. Soft silky leaves. Large leaves. So far so good. I have ordered colocasia black magic for the same bed. That looks gorgeous too.

Foxtail Agave

I love this agave. Foxtail agave – whose flower is said to look like a fox’s tail when it flowers. It was here when we bought the house and as it’s in a pot it’s easy to move around to different places on the terrace. I haven’t told Ian but there’s a massive one down at the garden centre.

Would look great on our terrace. I might have to drop by with him when he arrives next week.

Prickly pear

I have wittered on about this prickly pear all of last year as I was trying to save it. One of two in the garden that I am trying to save from the cochineal fly. The others on the bank are ravaged but I have noticed one today that I may try and keep going.

We have a wood burner here which is unlike any other I have seen. Let alone used. Fitted in the wall all you see is the glass front. Easy to light. It has a built in electric fan run and also heats the main bedroom via a warm air vent. And it works. Very well indeed. We were running out of wood so we had a delivery on Wednesday afternoon. I say we but mean Me as I am here solo for a week. I’m never happier than when we are fully stocked up on logs.

I can now get snowed in ( unlikely) and be warm. But first I had to tidy the garage and beat a path to the log store. Which I did and then opened the window. I have to explain that the window is rarely opened, and I never stand and stare out of the window. But I should. The view up the garden to the terrace is great. Even if I say so myself. Down wind isn’t so shabby either.

No. It’s not rain. This path later in the year will get stained from the jacaranda flowers.Gorgeous blue flowers. When on the tree. A nightmare on the floor. This time of the year it’s bird poo. I can’t remember as many birds in the garden last year. But there are plenty of visitors though largely unseen but you can hear them. Their chatter. And the rustle in the bushes. Well I hope it’s the birds. The horrible tree rat lives in another part of the garden. His favourite past time is chewing the irrigation system.

We have three pine trees on the bank at the side of the house. Gorgeous trees. Great providers of pine cones for starting the wood burner. But at this time of year I’m extra vigilant for the nest of the processionary caterpillars. Nasty little blighters and there is no way I will deal with them. So I find a man that can. And will. And does. For a price.

Strelitzia Reginae

Sometimes there are things that can get boring. Me and strelitzia is one. Every time I come back to la Casa after being away for a few weeks I’m straight out and counting the flower spikes.

The bigger excitement is the sight of flowers on the strelitzia Nicolai. We have two plants in the garden. One has flowers. The other doesn’t. I say flowers plural. Last year there were two but boy they are so lovely. Fingers crossed for this year.

Oh. There are 10 spikes on the various Strelitzia Reginae . In case you wanted to know.

The yellow tree is jacaranda. It’s too big and needs cutting back but the leaves haven’t dropped which is surprising. Usually at this time of year it’s bare so I think it will be another year before we can prune. Last years seeds are everywhere, funny looking things. Almost alien.

Now this may not excite you as much as it does me. But excited I am. The stirrings of the wild orchids on the bank. Not many. But a few and it’s great seeing then coming back again. My neighbour has gorgeous bee orchids. Jealous. Me. Never.

This cape honeysuckle has flowered all year but it is at the back of la Casa and is rarely seen. It’s supposed to be a scrambling plant but where it is it has nothing to scramble over. But it’s healthy and flowering albeit randomly . So if it ain’t broke don’t fix it and it’s attractive to bees and butterflies. So as I don’t have anywhere to move it too and it’s doing no harm it can stay.

It’s been a few days of moving things about to warmer spots. The citron buddhas hand has been moved from a windy corner. Again in a pot it’s easy to move around. It has flowered well. Started to set fruit but then the fruits have gone brown. So I head to my citrus book for answers.

My surprise purchase at the garden centre this week. Hollyhocks. Small plants but I’ve been wanted some since buying the house. Why? There are some lovely plants with gorgeous flowers growing on the road to the house. Which surprised me. One massive plant at the garden centre which grows every year. So I will plant them and see how they do.

I first saw Melianthus major at an open garden in Clapham. Then I saw it in the little gardens I walk through to the station in Peckham. So last year when I saw it for sale here I bought one. I’m pleased to say its doing great.

So I have a few days in the garden before Ian arrives. The irrigation to fix. Stuff I’ve cut back to move. I was cutting back the oleander last night as the sun went down. I always have my phone with me. Especially if I’m working on the bank. So I was lucky to get a snap of the colours of the pine needles on the bank as the sun went down. The needles look like they were on fire.

Oh. I’ve just remembered. I have a couple of plants to go in before Ian arrives! Best get on.