Well I’m back in Spain. That’s not a surprise really as I spend some time each month here. It’s been hot apparently. Messages from my neighbour sending pics of the thermometer on the terrace. In the sun. In the shade.
Oh dear. That hot. Thankfully it’s cooled down now. A little. I’m allowing myself to turn on the air con though. And wear a hat.
It’s an easy journey here to be honest. The flight is quick and the drive up the wiggly road goes unnoticed now. But. Yesterday I picked up the hire car at the airport. They had upgraded us. A bigger car. Automatic. New. Now I don’t know if you have tried parking in either a car park or on the roads in Spain. But big cars and car spaces don’t go. The spaces are tiny. So I’ll drive around for an hour each time I go out trying to find a space to squeeze into. That’s the car. Not me.
The wonder of getting into a new hire car. I am old enough to remember that when you used to hire a car they would come out to the vehicle. Showed you what was what. Honked the horn. Now your given the keys and told that it’s parked in bay whatever and off you go. I had to ask where the key was. ‘ um. In your hand sir” excuse me. That’s a key? It’s more like a tv remote.
So I was unprepared for the first event. Driving and concentrating on the motorway whilst automatically going to the gear stick to change up and down I somehow pressed the wrong button. A button I didn’t know it had. Didn’t know where it was. But all of a sudden the car seat was vibrating and moving. Now I am a bit partial to a massage but not when I’m driving at 100kmp on a Spanish motorway. And when I’m starting to feel car sick. But by some strange feat I managed to turn it off. Eventually. I still don’t know where the button is.
The last time I had a car seat experience was decades ago when a colleague was driving erratically through the Rotherhithe tunnel. So scared I thought i”d wet my pants. Only to realise that it was actually the warmth of the heated seat warming up on my bottom. A new experience for me then. A heated car seat. But her driving was that bad. I digress.
The garden has been well watered. But boy is it still dry. There is little respite from the heat at night so watering late or early morning is best but not great either. Evaporation is high.
I knew from last year that the garden is best in Spring, early summer and Autumn. The high summer heat sends some things dormant and others struggle. But I was surprised at how green the garden actually is. We have a lot of drought tolerant plants but to be honest there’s drought tolerant and drought tolerant. Even the drought tolerant struggle in the mid to late forties.
The alliums have been fantastic and have fared so much better than I anticipated. They are all done now and the seed heads are still looking good. Allium Summer drummer is still standing tall – head and shoulders above all of the plants. It’s a definite for my list for next year. Along with more Allium Sphaerocephalon – drumsticks. They have gone on for ages and are still looking pretty good. So one of the things on my list for this week is to order next years along with some more freesia which were some of the best bulbs I grew this year. Karen at Peter Nyssen – by the end of this week.
I’ve been looking at dahlia posts on Instagram with dahlia envy. Dahlias as big as dinner plates. Huge flower heads. Big fat buds. Next year I’m choosing one. Just one to try in a big fat pot here in Spain. My only consolation is my big fat new leaf on the Strelitzia Nicolai. Unusual in that at this point it’s perfect. A little bit of wind and the leaves get shredded. When we moved in I thought it was a banana so it was a big surprise when instead of bananas we got stunning blue/black flowers. Three of them. AMaybe next year this plant will have flowers like the other one we have in the garden. One of my favourites this year along with the Strelitzia Reginae which had flower head after flower head.
Even when the flower heads have died back they still look amazing. This one looking very presidential. It’s the hair.
I watered late last night. As you can see from the following picture I don’t put things away. I could have left it out of the pic. Put it away. Taken it from a different angle but life’s not perfect. Nor is my garden. Anyway I forgot to lock the gate. Any burglar would have tripped over it in the dark – my excuse. A burglar deterrent.
I am fascinated by the stephanotis. Beautiful creamy white waxy flowers. A gorgeous scent. Surprisingly fruit. Yes. Fruit on a stephanotis. I say fruit and it sounds plural. Read one fruit. I also read that they are not generally edible. But they aren’t poisonous either. I shan’t be testing either points. . But there is a large fruit /seed pod that has split open. It looks like it’s full of cotton wool. Which if you interested is one thing I hate touching. I have to ask Ian to take out any cotton wool in tablet containers, I just can’t stand the feel of it. But I did stand and stare at this without touching it.
Earlier in the week a neighbour in London asked what a particular flower was as we walked to a local restaurant. It was oleander and was the first time I had seen it grown locally. Well locally in London and it was flowering really well. Just how hardy it will be in SE London I don’t know. They are still flowering here in Spain and I have to say are pretty lovely. Pinks,whites, red and creams. Some doubles. This year will be a major prune. I’ve seen next door prune hard and whilst I though ouch – they have come back strongly. Makes yet another diary note.
Some are already sprouting their seed pods. Long slender pods which change to a reddish colour and open all fluffy. Interestingly. Some do. Some don’t. Depends on the plant.
We have grapes. I’m happier with the shade the two old grape vines give than the grapes themselves. But they are an added bonus until they fall – staining the floor and the sun umbrella! But next month I will make grape and rosemary jelly.
Some things have done well. The agapanthus have been great- both the new ones I bought and the original ones. I bought ten more in the nursery sale and have left them in pots to plant in October/November when the soil is easier to work. When hopefully we will get some rain. They have shot up in the last three weeks. I think I’m going to have a bed of them along with alliums. I’m also hoping that they will self seed around the garden and am leaving the seed heads on to dry and split. I know it takes an age for them to get to the flowering stage but this year in London 3 self seeders have flowered. The soil here is poor. Thin. Stony. You also begin to appreciate things we take for granted back in the UK. Like a delivery of garden soil from our local refuse collection centre in Somerset. Non existent here in Spain. I’ve been lugging bags of compost and putting it on the ground when planting. It’s a long old process.
The popcorn senna has finished flowering but the other Senna has had a second wind. Now I did know the name of this one but I have forgotten. Yes know I know. Label dear boy. Label. But these we’re here when we bought the house. But I now have new flowers. Old flowers. This years emerging seed pods. Last years seed pods drying on the plant. I think this one needs a bit of a trim too. Has gone what my mother would term as leggy. Obviously she wasn’t talking mine. Short and stumpy. But the colour is a joy when there is little colour about.
Note to self. Don’t wear shorts when wandering to the back of the house I grandly call the orchard. It’s dry. Very dry and the grasses make my leg itch. We have Almond trees (4) two figs and a Nispero/Loquat. The figs are still getting fat and need to go dark. I suspect that will happen when I’m not here. Or if I am I will be figged out – as they come all at once. Figs with homey and yoghurt. Figs with goats cheese. Figs with everything.
The almonds are almost ready. The drupes are beginning to split so I need to be on my guard to collect them before they fall. Then dry them a little. The numbers are down on last year. But. I have loads left from last year too. I think I will grind them and use the ground almonds in my baking. My time line on Facebook reminds me that I was picking and drying them this time last year.
Don’t mention the loquats. Ugly looking fruit. Don’t store well and all come at once. This years weather wasn’t kind to the one tree we have. I was going to make jam. Honest. Oh. I’ve just found another sapling tree.
The olive crop ( grander than it is ) is down on last year. But then so is most of the fruit. We have one quince. Last year I had enough for Quince jelly but didn’t make it. Determined to this year but I have one only. What can you do with one very large quince.
The Pineapple guava is way behind last year and is smaller. I’m not so worried as we don’t pick them. No one is that keen on the taste. The oranges are down this year too. The weather was fine. Then very wet. Very cold. Now baking. There are some but not great numbers.
The lantana at the back of the house has some more flowers on it. At the same time as berries from the last batch. The one at the back of the house where we rarely go is nicer than the one in a pot on the terrace but that has gone over.
There are seed heads forming already on the rock rose (cistus) which flowered very early. These will stay put for months now but I’m going to have to do some cut back. If it doesn’t work then it doesn’t work.
My favourite agave my foxtail agave is doing well and I have one other in a pot ready to go in when the ground is accommodating. Which it’s not at the moment. Think concrete. Hard set concrete.
So an inspection of the garden after three weeks away. I’m happy. Things are still green. One or two fatalities but that’s down to me and planting things in the wrong place. One brugmasia wasn’t doing too well. So I potted it. It’s done even worse. The other three aren’t dong well either. Two are in the wrong place. Not enough sun. The others ok but not great.
In comparison the bank is as dry as a bone. There is no watering there. The wildflowers are now dried flowers the grasses tall and dry. I’m yet to go and check out the roundabout. Which as you know isn’t a roundabout at all.
There is plenty to be done this week. I have a week here on my own so I have to get myself off the sofa and into the garden. Early morning. Late evening. To deadhead. To weed. And to water. I may even get chance to sit down. If the mozzies feel like they can leave me alone.
Oh and as long as the temperature doesn’t get back up into the 40″s.