We had our first visitor to the new house this weekend. Which was exciting. You know that feeling where you love something and hope others do too. Well that.
The joy of being here in Spain is the opportunity to look at new and different gardens. To look out for new ideas and new plants to weave into our new Mediterranean garden. It’s a huge learning curve and one where after only theee months I have lost a few plants on the way. The ground is hard. The climate harsh this summer. Hot. Dry. My visits here scattered.
So with our first visitor we headed off to the Alhambra We had been 18 months ago in April 2016 but it’s a stunning visit and one I will not tire of. Not yet anyway. An easy 1.5 hour drive away. The Alhambra is a series of buildings with the Nasrid palace the glittering jewel in the crown. One where you have an allotted time to visit.
The gardens when we were there in April were nice. I hate that word. Nice. It kind of means bland. Nice. So I was interested to see the summer planting. The colours. The smells, but slightly worried with this years extreme heat we may have missed it.
Tickets for the Alhambra are always sold out. There is no point deciding on the day to go visit. You need to plan. Your tickets. The entry time to the Nasrid Palace. Plan your trip. Thankfully we had. Tickets booked in May. The route planned with the assistance of my good friend Sally. Sally sat nag. We are rubbish as map readers so are happy to be dominated by the Tom Tom.
Water is a bit of a luxury here in Spain especially during the summer months. So I was surprised to see the gardens being heavily watered. At 10am. By watered. I mean Watered. Heavily. But when you walk around the vast and varied garden you can tell I’m not watering enough in mine. Even for drought tolerant plants. This years heat has been brutal.
But I have to say the planting is simply gorgeous. Stunning in parts. Colourful. Interesting. Plants I knew. Ones I haven’t seen in years. Simple. Interesting. A few I have to revert to Twitter for help in identifying. The planting so colourful that it reminds me of my parents front borders of the 1970’s.
There is structure. Carefully cut and structured hedging. Labelled. Please do not touch the plants. It’s yew. It’s poisonous. Something I’ve found a lot of the plants here are.
I was surprised to see roses. I don’t really know why – but I’ve been Surprised to see many things in the gardens here. Hollyhocks for one.
There has been an absolute stunner of a rose growing over the gates of the house opposite us. A gorgeous red. So full of bloom I had to go and check it was real. It was. This yellow rose in the formal structured beds was a stunner. I thought too yellow for Graham Thomas. But a beautiful rose dotted about over the gardens. There were a lot of standards. Giving height. Structure. Colour at eye level.
I haven’t seen Alyssum since it was planted down my parents front path in the 1970’s. Like lobelia a staple in gardens years ago – , which I have in window Boxes for the first time in years this year and has grown and looks well ,but like Alyssum seems to have fallen out of fashion for more blousy plan more unusual plants for the borders and window boxes. It was the standard bedding plant back in “the old days” along with lobelia, tagetes ,petunias, godetia, busy lizzies and begonias. Oh and red bedding salvias . Most of which were to be found in beds across the Alhambra. To be honest – it was a delight to see old friends.
The line for the Nasrid palace queues alongside some lovely beds. I love the orange colours in the garden but hate the smell of tagetes when you handle them. In a mass planting the orange of these are uplifting. Dotted under standard roses.
We came across this gorgeous plant. Planted as a mass in some beds whilst in others there were splashes of colour and in some more a riot of colour. An explosion. After a shout of ‘help’ on twitter it was identified as an euphorbia- euphoebia marginata Kilimanjaro. Thank you twitter folk.
They certainly know how to do colourful with their planting. More an explosion than planting. But it’s stunning. There were also beds of dahlias, statice and all manner of things. Salvias a plenty. What looked like a form of knautia.
Someone has been kept busy. The shape size and scale of some of the topiary was awesome. I have trouble trimming our hedges and I know if I tried to shape them I’d end up with such ugly shapes. Yep. I know. A bit like me!
It wasn’t all colour. The agapanthus in huge drifts at the entrance were going over. Flower heads turning into big fat seed heads. I think I’ve taken enough photos of aggies this year. There were some tall architectural trees. But an abcence of succulents unless I was too mesmerised with the colours that I. Issued them.
You can’t help but be in awe of the buildings here. The intricate craftsmanship of the decoration in the marble the woodwork and the history.
A reminder to me of the blaze of colour I grew up with in my parents borders – the planting of annuals where the concept of less is more was rarely understood. But it set me up for the love of colour. Of gardens and gardenning.
I can’t wait to go back again in the spring and to see what the bedding has been replaced with. I hope bulbs. Lots of them.