Six on Saturday – España again

I am still in Spain and the heat is searing. Earlier it was 32* in the shade. The ground is parched. Things have died back. Others are struggling. Me included. For months the locals were saying it was too cold. Unusually wet. Now it’s too hot. And they are right. I listen to the locals. Oh. And try and talk to them. My Spanish is getting better. Although there are certain words I need to watch. My Spanish teacher was laughing hysterically last week. It was a corker. No. Two.

The Stephanotis has finally opened. Just one bud so far but there are oodles and oodles to come yet. Most whilst I’m not here I suspect. But the scent is delicious. Truly delicious. No wonder it’s used in bridal bouquets.

The yellow of this hibiscus with its gorgeous red centre and beautiful stamens is in a pot on the terrace. The flowers are pretty luminous. Or. Pretty and luminous. I love the colours that these plants come in. We also have a red. In the ground. But not flowering as well. Probably as the soil is pants. I need to build it up. We know s song about that don’t we. Includes buttercups.

Durante Repens is a lovely colour in the garden. Not as showy as last year. But still pretty.

We have almonds. Not as many as last year. But there will be enough. Especially as I still have last years in the cupboard. Looks like I’ll be picking and drying them next month.

The pineapple guava is full of fruit. These are ripe when they drop off the tree. An acquired taste. One friend said they taste like germolene. Starts with a lovely flower. But I’m not convinced either with germolene. Or if I like them.

Back in the Uk I buy lemon grass to make a lovely cake. Coconut and lemon grass – a Ballymaloe cookery school recipe. Here I have this enormous ready to pick bush. How many times have I picked it? You’ve guessed. A big fat zero. Well I will tomorrow. And I’m promising myself that I will grow a pot in London.

Over and out with my six on Saturday. Next week will be a London one. If I have six things still alive when I get back.

Six on Saturday – España

This weeks six on Saturday comes from Spain. It’s hot dry and getting hotter. Tuesday is forecast for 41*. I’m already melting. More ice cream for the freezer!

The garden has largely drought tolerant plants but there are still many that need a bit of water encouragement. So it’s been very early or very late watering for me. But not too often.

What a surprise. An agapanthus. One from the pot on the terrace. I love them as if you didn’t know by now. I’m planning on a whole border next to the orange trees. There is a sale on at our local nursery at the end of the month as they close for August and most plants are half price. I feel a visit. But I have to plan the water as I am away for two weeks. It can be done.

Who knew? I didn’t. The seed pod of the Stephanotis. Hanging on in there from last year. I had to look this one up. I had never seen a seed pod like this but then in the UK I’ve only had stephanotis in a small pot.

The buds on the Stephanotis. In a few days they will be open and the scent will be heavenly. This does so well. It’s on a very large pot and is climbing – with help – up the wall.

The lovely blue of the Jacaranda. These are glorious viewed from a distance when the blues are really fab against the blue of the sky. It’s difficult to get a great pic. Lovely on the tree. But is an annoying dropper of it’s petals. Constantly.

A gorgeous yellow flower on an unknown cactus. Well unknown to me! I rarely walk the boundary of the house which sounds grander than it is. But this is on the bank behind the house. Yesterday I found it. The flowering cactus. Not the bank. We have a few varieties of cactus. I must look up the names. The only one I know is the prickly pear as I’m trying to save a few on the bank and in the garden from cochineal fly. Good old neem oil is doing the trick.

This is springing up everywhere in the garden and on the banks. Daucus carota – wild carrot. I love it – but now I’ve seen the pink I want that too. Looks for seeds now.

Viva España

I can’t help but think of my dear old mother as I write that. Viva España. I can see her now listening to that on the radio and dancing around the kitchen. Usually as she was about to go away on her holidays. To Spain. She did it to annoy me I know. Little did she know I’d be singing it one day. I never thought I would either, at least once a month for the last 12 months. Often as I drive up that wiggly road to ‘Casa Verano Eterno.’ It’s an annoying ear worm.

Well the ‘Eternal Summer’  has been a long time coming. Three weeks ago when I left for London the word on the Plaza Almijara was ‘Mucho mucho frio’ It’s been  a long wet winter and Spring. The locals had been saying it had been colder. For longer. The worst weather in years apparently. But now I’m back and it’s gone from ‘frio’ to ‘mucho calor’. It is. Mucho mucho calor. I don’t know if it’s because it’s gone from cold to hot without the bit in between but it feels brutal all of a sudden. There wasn’t the gradual acclimatisation. But we are never happy are we. Too hot. Too cold. Too wet. Too dry.

A week is a long time away from the garden at this point of the year. Both here and there. Ian and I were amazed at how quickly things had shot up in the garden. The agapanthus that were just starting to move have gone mad. Some are out. Many are still in bud. But they are tall. Taller than I can remember last year. They have done well.

I love agapanthus and we are lucky that they have self seeded here in the garden. Whilst they take an age to get to the flower stage they will. Patience young man. Patience. They do well in the dry and the heat so there’s no wonder they are everywhere in the garden.

I’m hoping the black one I brought with me will flower this year. Fingers crossed. There are plenty of light blue and white.

The main crop of alliums is over. Sadly. But I had to stop Ian from cutting them back. I love the seed heads as much as the flowers and eventually some will be picked and brought into the house. There are still two more varieties to flower. The drumstick alliums are dotted all over the place. Not in any kind of proper order. Just dotted randomly. Largely to see where they would work this year. They have flourished in some of the harshest places. I noticed two on the dry bank on the drive as I left the house yesterday. In amongst the grasses. I’d also noticed some when out on a walk a few weeks ago. Dotted in a really strange place. Side of the road. Dry. Amongst dry grasses. No sign of water. But in full flower.

I only noticed the ones on our drive as they had started to colour. I too planted in some very odd places. Probably where I could and where the ground was workable. I wondered why there was a pick axe in the garage – I soon found out.

I planted a few ‘allium Summer Drummer’. One has done great guns and is the tallest allium I have ever seen. It’s a late flowering one so is coming out after the others have died back. It’s a funny old thing really. I was expecting a much bigger head on it as it is so tall. And I mean tall. It’s just starting to colour up too. Definitely one for next years planting.

Now I know they will do well I will be on the old internet and onto Peter Nyssen to place the order for next year. But next year I will label and plant less erratically and in drifts. That’s not a promise. But I’ve promised myself to get a few more different varieties.

A staple of Andalucia and the planting along the central reservation of the motorways here is Oleander. When we were driving home earlier in the year they were cutting them back. Hard. Brutal even. I feared that this year there would be no colour. How wrong I was. They have come back with a vengeance.

The ones on the boundary with our neighbours were cut back too and I admit to thinking oh dear. But again. They are blooming lovely. As are the ones in the garden and on the drive. A variety of colours. Various stages of flowering. White. Pink. Red. There is a double flowered one somewhere. That one is just not out yet. But I will be out cutting them back hard next season as it doesn’t hurt to do it once in a while. I am reminded that all parts of the plant are poisonous. Just like nearly everything in this garden. I should be gardening in long trousers. Long sleeves. Hat. Gloves. Veil. But in this heat it’s impossible.

Interestingly our neighbours whose house is adjacent to ours mentioned that their two sons are keen gardeners and were on Instagram. They are keen indeed and grow some awesome and unusual fruit and veg in their London garden. Check them out – they are interesting to follow – freshbros_uk

The garden is a gorgeous mix of scents at the moment. The honeysuckle is still going strong and in the warmth of the evening is delicious as you walk up the path. The jasmine azoricum wrapping itself around some railings was a new one on me last year and supposedly has a lemon scent. I think it smells like, well Jasmine. It’s a bit of a slow one but is worth it for the scent.

There is a Trachelospermum next to the garage which reminds me of a trip to Italy over 15 years ago.

We rented a great place which had a wonderful pergola next to the pool. The pergola was covered in jasmine and the scent has stayed a favourite ever since. I love it when you relate a smell of a plant to a particular memory.

A bit like remembering that I hate the smell of tateges which takes me back to my parents garden when they grew all their own annuals – this was often one of them. This is their garden in the 1970’s. I think the front row may be tagetes. All grown from seed by them in the greenhouse I made them buy. Apparently.

I think if I had a front garden like this, one year I would do bonkers annual planting. Old favourites. And wild colours. But I don’t have the space in London to do it. Sadly.

I digress. Back to me. I noticed a clematis scrambling down the bank on the access road. A really pretty sweet scented white flower. Never watered. Rubbish soil. If you can call it soil. Surrounded by trees but doing ok. I then noticed one winding it’s way into the pineapple agave in the garden. I have looked in my Wild plants of Spain book and think it’s a clematis flammula. It’s small white flowered and scented. Climbs or scrambles. Sounds like an egg order.

Whatever it is it’s very welcome. I’m not sure if I removed it last year from the tree. I can’t remember seeing it at all. I’ve never had much luck with clematis back in the Uk though saying that the one and only one in London has gone mad this year. That’s the same for a lot of things.

Another thing I don’t remember from this time last year are the mozzies. They hate me. Well I think it would be more correct to say they love me. Apparently this form of garlic is a deterrent. I’m not convinced but the flowers of tulbaghia Violacea – ‘society garlic’ are pretty and apparently scented – I can’t smell them! I suspect neither can the mozzies.

I’ve been out spraying the prickly pears again. I’m determined if nothing else and it’s paying off. But note to self. Wear decent gloves. The prickles are a nightmare if they jag your hand even when you wear thin gloves. Oh. And I don’t like the smell of neem oil. Hopefully neither will the cochineal fly. Nasty little things. Tiny white flies which when you swot them on a white wall or a white shirt you see why they are called ‘cochineal’. Swot them and you instantly get a red dye on whatever you’ve swotted them onto. So small they get through the mozzie nets on the window.

I’m not sure I would have planted this if I hadn’t seen it in flower. Commonly known as the Brazilian Sky flower – ‘Durante Repens’ it was here when we moved in and I’m so pleased that it was. It’s a lovely colour addition to the garden. References say it’s blue. I say it’s more violet than blue. Maybe violet blue! But when it gets going it gets going. I love seeing these different plants that I’d never see in the Uk and there are some crackers in this garden

Ok ok. Talking of crackers. You’ve seen this before but now there are two. And maybe a third coming. I can’t contain my excitement. We have a lot of flower heads on the Strelitzia Reginae but it’s the Strelitzia Nicolai that excites me. I make no apologies for even more pictures of it. Sorry. Not sorry.

Everyday there are things to find. Things to photo. The above are some of the flowers that are out this week. With this heat many will soon be over. I’ve spotted some cornflowers coming out. Some calendula. I’m hoping that the scorching sun doesn’t kill them off whilst we are away.

I am here for another week then back to London for a week. I had a message from the cat sitter to say ‘ the front flowers were looking right bonnie’ – Ian has said nothing since he has got back. Makes another note. Remind him to water.

I said the heat is ramping up. It certainly is. Forecast for the weekend is 35/36*. Hmmm I’m not sure how the garden will take it the week I am away. I have said the garden is a Spring – early summer and Autumn garden. The intense heat of high summer isn’t great for the plants even those that are drought tolerant. Or for me! I need rehydrating. Often. Water not wine.

For now it’s watering late at night or early morning. Ten minutes gardening. Half an hour rest. I’ve taken to siestas big time. Oh. And time to do the housework. And ironing. And homework.

I think my Spanish teacher must think I’m boring. ‘Explain to me what you did yesterday’ she asks ‘ I worked in the garden’ and the day before? The same is my response. I’m sure she thinks I’m stuck for vocabulary. I’m not. I am that boring. And the garden is demanding.

I’m off for my class. The good thing. It’s Wednesday and there is an organic market at the nursery. That’s why I’m making a detour on my way back. It’s nothing to do with the email I’ve had saying they have new stock. Honest.

Hasta luego!

There and here. Here and there.

So I’ve been there. And I’m now here. Or. Here and there depending on how you look at it.

I’ve had a week back in London. A busy week to be fair. I try and pack a lot in wherever I may be. Whether it be here. Or. there or wherever.

The two spaces are so different. Not just the gardens but the culture. Where we live. The house in each. Where I eat. How I travel. I’d forgotten how busy Oxford Street can be. Even on a Monday. Out of school holidays too. I had to escape down into Bond Street tube this week to get away.

So back in London it was time to potter in our small (tiny) courtyard garden and to check up on the pots and window boxes at the front. We are lucky to have someone go in when we are both away – largely to look after the cats – but he’s ace with a watering can and hose. Bruce and Christine have been looking after the cats for the last 15 years and are brilliant.

Having had the front garden ‘done’ recently – new wall, new path, railings and new gate we decided to do some replanting of pots at the front. We bought two new standard bays. A bit of a cliche really but they suit the space. I bought two new pots from The Nunhead Gardner. Got them home and realised that once the bays were in the pots they would be too tall for the space. Surprisingly I didn’t have to take them back. Ian said that we should repot the agapanthus into them. And buy two more. Result!

I always have window boxes but as I am away so much these days I wanted something that didn’t need a lot of water. The garden is my domain and whilst Ian waters he’s busy and it’s not fair on him to have to come home and start watering. So again this year I opted for lavender. It worked well last year but this year I just used lavender. It looks good. Ignore the bins. I haven’t told Fred yet. But we are looking for some bin covers. Next door has a fab one with a green roof. But. It’s expensive and the sides are open. Defeats the object really. And Fred would sit on the plants anyway.

Now I love agapanthus. We have two enormous white ones and a very large small blue flowered one in the front. All needed repotting. Sadly one of the whites struggled through the winter and in parts had turned to mush. The first time I’d lost an agapanthus. The big blue had already started to bud up.

I’ve said the back garden is small. It is. Very. Everything is in pots. Some neighbours have small lawns. And I mean small. But I’ve seen them re turf every few years. There is not enough sun in some of them. So the courtyard is paved. Tree ferns, jasmine, honeysuckle, banana, agapanthus,clematis,mock orange all in pots. It’s a small space. So scent is important. Makes watering a bit of a pain but when we bought the tree ferns we thought if we moved we could take them with us -15 years later we are still there. It’s one thing that Ian really loves – the tree ferns. I was lucky this year. I didn’t straw the crown or wrap them as I was away when the cold spell hit and I panicked that we may have lost them. There are 5 in the garden. The tallest is about 6ft odd. But they survived and a feed of alpaca poo works wonders.

We also have flowers on the olive trees. Again both in pots. A strong link between Spain and London are some of the plants we grow in each. I don’t think I’ll be growing large agaves or prickly pears in London though!

This is a pic from two or three years ago taken from the upstairs window. Things have been moved. Things have been removed. Others added. But it gives the sense of the space. Or lack of it. I must take an up to date one. Preferably when the washing isn’t on the line.

It’s been an odd winter /Spring in the London garden. Despite having its own micro climate I lost some things I thought would be ok. Some survived where I thought the wet and the cold would certainly kill them. Nature’s odd like that. I had geraniums flowering all winter. But some of the agapanthus in the back courtyard also turned to mush. But that means more purchases! My tulips were pants. My London alliums pants. All down to the conditions. Not the bulbs as the same bulbs in Spain have been awesome. Oh. That reminds me. I must go and check on Allium Summer Drummer here in Spain.

It hasn’t all been gardening. There’s been doctors,dentists, Orthodontists. Who knew I’d be getting a brace in my retirement.

A bit of a MOT. You also have to throw in a bit of a NGS open garden as well don’t you? Two glorious open gardens in Dulwich Village whose greenhouse would cover my garden in Camberwell. Beautifully planted. Stunning roses with such strong perfumes. Glorious colours. A pond. Plants and the obligatory cake. It wouldn’t be NGS without cake would it? I love open gardens. Probably because I’m nosey. I love seeing what other people grow. What combinations. Take away ideas for my own gardens.

I’ve wandered through the streets of Wapping after a haircut. My old stomping ground when I worked at Canary Wharf and in Fitzrovia where I lamented the fact you can’t go to the top of the BT Tower as you could up to the early 80’s. There was s revolving restaurant and sightseeing platforms. Leased to Billy Butlin! Security concerns led to its closure.

So here I am back in Spain. A bit of a journey. Train stuck 5 mins outside the airport for a trespasser on the line. Stuck for 40 mins watching the panic on people’s faces as they realise they may miss their train. Thankfully I like to get there super early. I can’t stand the panic of rushing and nearly missing a flight.

Added to that the plane was nearly an hour late and I was sat next to someone who was too frightened to catch your eye in case you struck up a conversation. Funny that. I didn’t want to! Interestingly Ian’s flight tonight is already scheduled to be 30 mins late. 12 hours before it takes off. How does that work!

So. I arrive up the wiggly road at 11.15pm. Open up. Lights on. WiFi on. Then water the garden. I can’t see very much but I can smell. I realise even in the dark that the Jasmine Azoricum is in flower. A delicious smell. The honeysuckle is in full bloom. But just as well I watered late last night. Today the pump for the water deposit has gone kaput. So no watering today. Well maybe. The plumber had just been and is to replace a part. I called in the office at 10. By 1.30 he’s here.

So I think I need to bathe in citronella at some point as the mozzies are a plenty. I’ve bought a very fetching orange slinky citronella bracelet. It stinks. But the mozzies. – must have been the wet spring as last year I wasn’t bitten once. Well maybe once. But so far today I’ve been bitten three times. So. I’m not lazing around for long. There’s too much to do. I need to turn into my mother and get dead heading. There’s a lot to do.

Oh. And I need to buy a new hat. Either this one is too small or my head is too big. But the solar panel on the top of my head ( crown or bald spot) needs some cover. I hate hats. They make my head itch. But needs must. I may be a very long time.

One year on……Here and there. There and here

So. Here we are again I’m back in Spain. Just for a change. This is my summer routine now. I shall be here a lot. I have dates booked through to December. Well New Year.

I drove down the wiggly round again late on Thursday night to pick up Ian from the airport – which always gives me time to reflect. This time to reflect on the last 12 months. . Well it is a long and wiggly road.

What have I learnt? ~ learning a foreign language is harder the older you get. That the Spanish don’t mind you making a plonker of yourself. They like it that you try. Not that you try to be a plonker. That you try speaking in Spanish. But I am trying. Ian says that constantly. Especially when I get my words mixed up in a restaurant. I’m still not allowed to order certain things – my accent is poor. That’s great coming from a Glaswegian. But he’s right. I’ve learnt that I love the Mediterranean diet. It’s worked wonders for my waistline. Shame it’s two weeks off and three weeks on. Like the inches. Two off. Three on. We’ve made new friends. Oh. There are lots of things. So why reflect on the last 12 months?

Well. It’s a year ago this week I collected the keys to the new house. We were at Chelsea when we had the call. We had completed. The house was ours

The next day I was on that flight. This year no Chelsea for the first time in 25 years. Big school boy error. But I was here to celebrate. I just had to live Chelsea from the blog posts of other bloggers. Who collectively saw more than I ever do, discussed it in so many different ways and photographed it from ever available angle. Except as one of my favourite bloggers Jack Wallington said. Not through the garden. You get front. Back. Side views. Enough. That’s Chelsea. So last week.

It was this time last year I was also on my way to collect Ian from the airport so he would have his first sight of the house since we completed. Friends have asked has the novelty has worn off yet. Are we bored? The same people who asked me if I was bored once I retired. The answer was then No. the answer now is doubly no. I don’t like the new house and garden. I love it. The good thing is that so does Ian. Phew.

It’s been a great year. Lots of visitors who I think have loved the house the garden and the lovely white town of Competa as much as we have. Frequent flyer points. Spanish lessons. Tapas. Lots of. New friends. A whole new experience. The aches and pains of s new garden. Gardening on a slope. Difficult soil where there is soil. Dry. Heat. Rain heat. Mosquitos. But new plants. New scents. New adventures.

So we get back at the house at 2am. All I want is to sleep. Ian gets the last flight out on a Thursday or a Friday once or twice a month now he is working again after a 3 month break. He straight away notices that the Bird of Paradise on the path from the gate had flowered.. I never think he notices much but even at this time of the night he sees the beauty that is the flower. ( to be honest he notices more than I give him credit for. I didn’t think he’d notice the new jug either which is strategically placed out of his eyeline! – he did )

He went straight for the blue and white bird of paradise – Strelitzia Nicolai – one flower on the large plant. We had one flower last year and they are pretty stunning. This one does look like a bird in flight. Even in the poor light he manages to see something new in the garden. Wait till tomorrow when he sees it in the daylight. Will have to think on my feet. Is that pot new? Oh no. It’s very last year.

A few days later I notice a second flower. Magic. Doesn’t take much to keep me happy.

Strelitzia Nicolai.

This spring has been magnificent for the Strelitzia Reginae. The one in the pot has been blooming for ages and there are at least nine stems ready to flower. The ones planted in the garden are smaller and the flowers not so showy. But this one stands heads and shoulders above every other one.

strelitzia Reginae

A year on I still got excited at what appears in the garden. I have done a full year now and we have had a pretty wet winter and a cold Spring. Yes. I know it’s all relative compared with the weather in the Uk. It’s not been as constantly wet or as cold but there have been extremes here. It didn’t just rain. It chucked it down for weeks – the reservoirs filled up. Bits of road washed away. A river ran through our bank for three weeks. But the gardens looked good and the wildflowers were amazing. Oh. And it doesn’t look like water restrictions will be in place during the hot summer months.

Nature is a wonderful thing which none of us can control.The roundabout which isn’t a roundabout at the back of the house was awash with wildflowers and the verges on the way out of town a veritable jewel palette. But they disappear as quick as they arrive. Now the sun has come in full force they have gone. Here today. Gone tomorrow. I keep telling Ian that’s why I have to come out so often. I’m scared I might miss something.

Wildflowers on the roundabout

Back in the garden I continue to get excited. I cut back some oleander which had gone crazy – and found a pomegranate. I know. How do just find a large tree. WeI did which I noticed a few weeks later to be in flower. They are gorgeous these flowers. I can’t stop looking at them to make sure they are real. I shouldn’t really as I have to trample over other stuff to see them. The excitement of getting my own fruit in the garden. Who would have thought that the 12 yr old in Cardiff buying pomegranates for about one month a year and eating them with a pin would one day hopefully have his own. Fingers crossed they continue to form the fruit. I must dig out some pins. That’s how we ate the fruit in the 70’s. Cut in half and picked out with a pin or was it just me?

pomegranate

Before I went back to London two weeks ago I planted the red geraniums in the wall planter. Which gives it a true Mediterranean feel. Shame the night after I planted them there was a storm and the wind took the tops of 4 of them. But they have recovered and I think look great. Right plants for the right space.

White wall planting

Talking of the right plants for the right space. We have a pretty large bottle brush – Callistemon – at the back of the house. Now I’m not a great lover of these. But hey. In the right space with a nice blue sky they add a fair bit of colour to the garden and this one will need a bit of trim in the Autumn as it’s getting too straggly.

But I’ve changed my mind. In a Mediterranean setting it works. Well I think so anyway.

Bottlebrush

The pineapple guava ( Feijoa sellowiana) is starting to flower. Only a few so far but the two bushes we have are full of buds. The flowers are so pretty and the petals are edible. Not that I have yet. But I will.

The fruit which comes later I tasted last year. They are a bit of an acquired taste. A friend likened then to germolene. Trust me if they smelt like it they be dug out and burnt. That and TCP must be top of my list for awful smells. Can you still get them!

Pineapple Guava

We have a lot of succulents all around the garden but don’t ask me what one this is as I have no idea. I need to get a book and look them up. But this one is flowering for the first time. Well the first time since we have been here. I’m interested to see what flower it has. But these things are lethal to a gardener who doesn’t wear gloves. And wears shorts. Talk of spiteful. They spike me every time.

We have a number of these dotted around. Most are now in flower and add a welcome bit of orange to the garden. I’d photograph the ones on the bank. But I’ve said before. The bank is steep and takes no prisoners. I have already slipped once and I have no intention of slipping again. It’s not a pretty sight and I don’t want to be laying there for days.

I bought alliums from Peter Nyssen this year to see if they would grow in the new garden. I admit to the random planting of a couple here and there. Not in any designer way but largely to see if the area was suitable and would they grow! By and large it’s a yes. One or two spectacular fails. One planting that needed a helping hand from the twitterati to identify – allium summer drummer – but now I know where they work and grow well I will be on the old computer box to place an early order. Next year I may even label them. Now that will be a novelty.

The allium with verbascum was a random planting. But I like it. The reflections in the pool are alliums that are ever so gently going over. I love the seeds heads and hopefully the Higgledy seeds of calendula and nigella are going to keep coming. So far so good. I also scattered other seed there too. Yep. Another don’t ask.

Random planting 
Allium love 

Allium Shadows on the pool 

This was a random planting on the bank. Dry. Poor soil. Not deep soil. But the flower heads are some of the biggest in the garden. Next year there will be more. If I can get on the bank.

The work on the prickly pear continues. A weekly dose of a neem oil/water mix sprayed all over has resulted in some pretty good and clean new growth. That will keep Ian happy. In London he loves his tree ferns . Here he likes the large palms and the cactus.

A rescued Prickly Pear

I’ve planted pots. Not too many as they need watering . But I bought some portulaca for the white wall planter. But they didn’t work so I’ve planted hem in Pots. Good choice. . Boy. They are so colourful.

As well as these there are the obligatory geranium pots to brighten up the terrace. Yes. You did probably hear someone – Ian – say. No more pots.

We have a large grape vine over the terrace. A black grape. We didn’t have too many off the vine last year but this year there are a lot of buds.

The shoots are all tied in and it’s beginning to give some good shade. We won’t be making wine that’s for sure but if I get enough to make grape and rosemary jelly I’ll be happy.

The garden is definetly a spring and autumn garden. It’s nice in summer but the heat of July and August usually means things either go dormant or slow down. And you have to water. So a lot of the garden has drought tolerant plants.

These hotentot figs –Carpobrotus edulis have been in flower for weeks now. These two if turned over looked like a hat at that recent wedding. You know the one. You watched it. We all did. Just some won’t admit it.

The last time I touched one of these plants I had s mad dash to the pharmacist as I stupidly then touched my eye. It’s poisonous. But smells like pop corn. That’s probably why it’s called the pop corn Senna. Well it’s flowering and I realised what it was as my legs brushed past it and the wast of popcorn hit me. Too late. I had to run in and shower. I wasn’t risking it. But it’s a pretty flower and such a shame the whole plant is poisonous. But then sonare many in this garden.

Popcorn Senna

There is so much going on that I’m hoping to be able to sit and enjoy the garden. But I suspect not for long. When you are only here for two or theee weeks at a time you can constantly be in the garden. Often at the end of the day you look and wonder what you have done. But the aching joints tell you you’ve done something.

In contrast our London garden is very very different. A terraced house in South London where we have recently renovated the front wall, the path and added new railings. Window boxes of lavender and new lollipop bays from The Nunhead GardenerOh And there are my favourite agapanthus in pots. All easy to maintain and easy to water. Ignore the bins. That’s the next project.

The back garden is small. Very small but full of pots. The tree ferns are in pots. The foxgloves and the the clematis. All in pots. The garden is fed with alpaca poo courtesy of Lou Archer. Well not Lou but her alpacas obviously. She has s new product which she launched at RHS Chelsea especially for tree ferns. A must have for me when I get back and it’s on her Website

I pinch myself black and blue on a regular basis on how lucky I am to be able to garden in two very different environments. It’s been a huge and steep learning curve here in Spain with some disasters along the way. I’ve planted. Changed my mind. Replanted elsewhere. I bought pink geraniums for the garden. Too pink. Is there too pink? There is.

So I gave them away and bought red. Which is what I wanted at first. I bought a climber that hasn’t climbed so out it’s gone to be replaced by a red Passion flower. And on it goes.

But patience is a virtue. Sadly not one of mine.

So. We m here for another week. How many more plants can I fit in!