Summer loving.

It’s the end of another trip and boy it’s been a hot one. The weather that is. It’s been a scorcher. Like the UK I’m having to water. We do have an irrigation system which comes on every other day but I’m giving the beds a bit of a soak as well. I’m not a great fan of these drippers. Great for individual plants where needed but as a general water supply they can be pants.

We are lucky – we had tremendous rain here in the Spring – to be fair it didn’t stop and the reservoirs and reserves are sufficient that there is no prospect ( yet) of a ban on water for the garden. We do get regular cuts in the campo. But we have a massive water deposit under the terrace for emergencies.

It’s interesting. Some things were early or roughly on time others are a couple of weeks late. I thought we had no figs this year but on closer inspection we do. Loads of them. All will ripen at the same time and maybe when I’m not here. That’s another interesting thing. I can be away for two or three weeks and I miss things. Flowers are in bud when I leave and are gone when I return. Here today. Gone tomorrow. A bit like me really.

But the garden has been a delight. We weren’t here much in July last year so it’s good to see what is and what isn’t flowering. Oh. And what has gone over. Like the alliums.

The Alliums were glorious this year. Bought and shipped to Spain by Peter Nyssen they have been such a delight in the garden. The soil is poor – as Georgie the Flower Farmer said when she was here in March ‘ you need a ton of top soil delivered’ I’ll be back to help!

But the flowerheads are now sead heads and look great as they dry. Karen from Peter Nyssen says she picks hers and sprays them to prolong the interest. For now they can stay where they are !

But there will be more Allium next year. A lot more. I’m lucky that I can get them shipped direct to Spain. Makes life easier as it’s more difficult to source them locally. You can but not the varieties.

Just as I return to the UK the stephanotis comes into full flower. The plant is grown in a pot against the wall of the house and I haven’t done much with it. The plant not the house. Some water. A bit of a feed. But this year there are loads and loads of buds. Many of which are now opening. Such a glorious scent. It’s no wonder it’s called bridal crown as it has been a popular favourite in bridal bouquets . I learnt something new last year when I found a large seed pod on there. Apparently quite common in a hot summer. This is one of last years. Obviously.

I’ve mentioned before that there is a steep bank behind the house which has an access road between the bank and the roundabout which isn’t a roundabout. Just on the edge are some awesome cacti. Some rather sad looking prickly pears and another cactus who’s name I don’t know but should have looked up – has borne some flowers. A glorious yellow flower which is very short lived. Well it appears to be short lived. I don’t go to that part of the bank often and it was sheer luck that I was there to see this. Makes notes go there more often.

A new purchase this trip and planted under the large olive tree in the dry bed. Ptilotus Joey – Australian descent with pretty plume like flowers.

It’s drought resistant and a bit of a semi succulent. If that’s a term. I like the flowers but as a plant I am not sure. The jury is still out. I’m not sure how drought tolerant it will be. It was 32* under the shade of the olive tree yesterday. I melted.

This Spring brought the wildflowers out in abundance. Along the road verges and on our bank. They have all gone over and have turned into some beauties. This had a lovely yellow head when in full bloom. Now it’s crisp, spikey and golden. And looks great. The bank is a bit of a worry to be honest. We had it cleared last year after we moved in – the banks very steep & uneven and my balance too unpredictable for me to do it. I think we may have to do it again. But for now I’m enjoying the dried grasses and wildflowers. From a distance.

Don’t you just love a bit of Daucus carota wild carrot? I scattered some seed from Mr Higgledy which have germinated. The flower heads are tiny. Now that’s nothing to do with the seed. They were sown late in dry ground. Hopefully they will all self seed for next year.

I know I witter on Twitter about the Strelitzia Reginae – Sorry not sorry but I can’t help myself. Even when they’ve gone over they have an air of beauty. A bit of a raggedy orange dodgy hair style kinda way. My presidential kinda flower head. I’ve cut most of them back but left one or two to remind me.

I need a reminder too that this pot is getting overcrowded. Not with the strelitzia but the self seeded agapanthus which has flowered this year.

I have birds of paradise both in pots and in the ground. I’m coming round to the thought that pots may be better for flowering. Adds to the never ending list. Buy more pots. Dig up. Replant.

I have a love hate relationship with the jacaranda. Beautiful in flower. A gorgeous colour. Really interesting seed heads. But. There has to be a but. The flowers don’t last that long on the tree. A whiff of a wind and they are off. Onto the path. Which needs sweeping constantly. Yes. It looks like there’s been a bridal party. Looks like there’s confetti on the ground. But. Thanks. No thanks.

It also needs a good prune back. It’s got really really tall and as we get a bit of a high wind at times – we are 620m above sea level in the mountains up that wiggly road so I do worry that one day you’ll hear a loud crack and it’s down on top of us. Adds “get tree man here in the Autumn” to the list.

Behind the house is a bed that needs minimal attention. Which is just as well as that’s what it gets. There are some smallish agaves growing along with my favourite the foxtail agave which I’ve posted before. There are two on the way into the town that have flowered. My oh my. They are pretty stunning though alive been told they die after flowering. That’s a hard one. Plant or flower. At this stage I’ll keep the plant.

There’s a straggly lantana there which is flowering but after the summer will be gently cut back. ( I mean hacked). I did it to one in a pot on the terrace and it did it no harm. My thought if it harms it I will replace it.

The pineapple guava has finished flowering and the fruit is beginning to set. It’s an easy growing plant and the flowers are interesting. The fruit as I’ve said before is an acquired taste.

The Durante repens continues to flower but It’s not as good as last year. That is also the case for the jacaranda and the olives. I’m just hoping it’s been the weather. Really wet. Then really cold. Now really hot. Like me.

We won’t get “Chateau Verano Eterno” but despite the lack of pruning this year there are a lot of grapes. They are black grapes and quite sweet. A nightmare on the terrace when they drop but it covers the pergola to give us the shade needed. But there should be at least enough for some grape and rosemary jelly.

I’ve planted this hibiscus in a pot. It wasn’t doing very well in the ground as it wasn’t getting enough water. Potted. Watered and given a good talking to it’s now blooming lovely. A gorgeous colour. Full of buds and brightening the terrace.

Behind the house on a more level patch well kinda level we have some Edibles.

The big fat leaves of the nispero against the blue sky. The leaves are pretty big. The fruit isn’t the prettiest of fruit and this year was damaged a fair bit by the weather. The fruit doesn’t keep and doesn’t travel well so I guess that’s why there isn’t a market for it in the UK. Even when in the shops locally or at the market it doesn’t look too inviting!

Then there are 4 mature almond trees. The blossom is gorgeous but this year it and wasn’t as abundant as last. But there are almonds. Next month I will pick them remove the drupes then dry the nuts. Then I’ll add them to last years collection. It’s all very well picking them but you have to use them.

Finally. Figs. Two fig trees. One large. One growing. I had despaired earlier in the year. I thought. No figs. But I was wrong very wrong to be honest. The tree on closer inspection has loads. All very small. All very green but there are figs. I suspect they will have ripened whilst I am away into that squishy black delight that you can pick for breakfast and drizzle with honey. Or. Leave them on the tree. Because by the time you get back they have gone over. Figs are like buses. You wait for one then they all arrive at the same time. I may be lucky enough to be able to make fig jam.

Did you know I’m a fan of agapanthus? Well if you didn’t I am. A big fan. Most are at the end of their flowering season. But a few are just coming into flower and a couple are still in bud. They do brilliantly here in Spain so with that in mind I bought 10 more at the sale. Five blue. Five white. I want some different ones and I need to find a supplier locally or one that ships to Spain. I’d like a few really dark ones. In London I have one. Black something or other.

Oleander. What can I say. A common sight in the central aisles of the motorway on our drive from the airport to the Casa. An easy grower and I didn’t realise just how many different shades and colours it comes in. The white in the garden is Almost translucent in the sunshine. There are pinks; reds, whites and peachy colours. Some looking like roses. I’m a bit of a fan for the colour they bring to the garden. But every bit is poisonous.

I bought this at the sale this week. I’d never seen it before but it’s Hibiscus moscheuos carousel. I”d like to be able to photograph the flower when it opens. But I guess I will be away. I’d also like to say that it’s raindrops on the leaves. But sadly not. I’d been watering again.

One of the hardest workers in the garden this year. I have cut back the dead flowers all bar one or two that still have some colour and they will be ready to burst into flower again in the next few weeks. Against the white wall they have looked great.

Back to a bit of Allium love. The drumstick alliums have been a revelation. They have grown in some dodgy places in the garden. Maybe because I had to plant where I could. I’ve loved them from the start of the buds right through to now where the colour is fading and they are going over. My other favourite this year was Allium summer drummer. Flowers later than the others I planted. Grows taller than any other I have seen. I must reorder for next year pretty soon. As they have done well here I’m keen to plant more on the bank.

I’d like to show you the Brugamasia but they have been so slow. Plenty of water. Sun. But no sign of flowers this summer.

I’m hoping that come the end of August the bananas I planted will be as high as an elephants eye. So no photos.

We have bougainvillea against the garage. A pinky red. That too is pants. If you want to see a gorgeous one look over our neighbours gate because I’m too embarrassed to photograph ours. I need to ask @fresh_bros and @podenco_squadencom how they do it. Oh. And they too have some glorious agapanthus.

I’m going to dig ours up. If I want to look at bougainvillea I’ll stand at their gate and stare. I’m already growing a lovely orange vine in its place. Bought for us by a friend in March. It’s sat there ever since not moving an inch until now. With a bit of sun you can see it move. Bingo. It flowers in winter/spring so we will get some colour. I think it’s bigonia Venusta.

I mentioned the plant sale. Our local – Viveros Florena – closes for the month of August. Sensible really. It’s too hot to plant. Plants need too much water to get established. Plus they need a holiday. The owners. Not the plants. So they close for the whole of August and have a sale of plants to reduce the number for watering. This is where I went on Tuesday. Nine o’clock on the dot. It’s a 15 min drive away. Quicker if you take the short cut. Which is fine as long as you don’t meet a local on the way. The road is narrow and is used by people who know the road. And drive faster than me.

You’d think after a year I’d have learnt some things here in Spain. Yes I do know they drive on the other side of the road. Yes I do know that the drivers side is different to ours. So why did I get into the wrong side of the car again at the petrol station and sit there like someone had stolen the steering wheel. Whilst the attendant and two car owners looked on in hilarity.

But I did have a car full of plants. So there.

Now I will never be selected to model. Unless maybe if it’s for shoes and gloves. If that’s the only part you’ll see. But. If you want a picture to put on your fridge door to keep people away. Then this is for you. Singularly unattractive.

Ready to venture into the garden. Whatever the time of day my legs get bitten. I needed to do 10 mins work in the middle of one of the beds. There was no option. Lycra. Socks. Long sleeve t shirt. Oh and lock the gate so none could see me. They would have thought its Max Wall. ( if your young ask your mother. Or google it)

It’s not all been gardens and plants. Well most of the time it has. Whilst the boys were here I could hear their mother shouting ‘ watch Uncle Andrews plants’ ‘get off the garden’ followed by me saying the same. Usually there are only two of us at the house. With no toys at the pool. No Lilos. No volleyball nets. No goal posts. No footballs flying around the terrace. I say we have to enjoy it whilst we can. At least for now they want to spend time with us. A broken agapanthus. A crushed oleander – it’s worth it.

So. Another month nearly over. More flowers. More plants. More heat. Yesterday so hot I sat on the terrace with fans on. It was 32* in the shade. You could normally think you were going back to the UK for some cool weather: After all the schools break up today. Doesn’t it always rain at the start of school holidays? It used to when I was a boy.

I wonder what August will bring!

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.