So I’m back in London. You can tell I’m in London. I am wearing long trousers. And socks. The garden here is looking tired. It needs a bit of a haircut. A bit like me. The lavender in the window boxes want s great whilst it lasted but is failing fast but the red of the geraniums and the blue of the lavender was a striking combination this year. The geraniums are still blooming despite the voice in my head telling me I should have been deadheading. I have left behind in Spain a garden that is still dry. Is pretty green in parts with some glorious seedheads dripping future plants across the garden. Agapanthus and jacaranda being the two biggest culprits. There is a lack of colour. Yes the plumbago is still blooming. There is the odd flower on the oleander. The white oleander, the pink has none. The yucca is flowering, but is about to go over, jasmine has some flowers dotted here and there but its more a spring and early summer garden. When we wee viewing in March the scent of freesias was noticeable as you passed by, Needles to say my bulb order will include freesias.
This summer has had both highs and lows for me. The biggest high finally finding and deciding in a heartbeat that the garden and the house – see what came first- in Andalucia was right for us. Seen and bought In a matter of 8 weeks. Any regrets? Four months in – not one. A huge learning curve, well really more like a steep ascent up the highest mountain, on foot with a huge backpack, but great fun to see what has appeared so far and what will appear in early spring. Add the challenge of watering and you get the picture.
The low – the acceptance that something had to give and after 23 years it was the Cottage in Somerset. The cottage is on the market and we will be sad to be moving on. But for one last season I was able to garden in all three gardens. All very different. All challenging in their own way. The wet West Country. The dry villages of Andalucia. The space restraints of London. Different environments. Different plants. Different requirements.
In Somerset I had to forgo some of my favourite plants this season. Dahlias. I have only grown to love them in recent years and now I am deserting them. I will not be able to grow them in Spain and the garden in London will need some rearranging to accommodate. But having seen Jack Wallington & Christopher Anderson’s garden open for NGS I think I may be able to do it. Not quite as spectacularly as Jack thats for sure, his Dahlias are huge and gorgeous.
I have loved the new Mediterranean garden as those who know me have been inundated with pictures, words a bit of a blog and stories of our trips there. Getting to grips with new plants. With new soil. The constant heat – I don’t know about the plants but at times I have wilted. In the shade! The joy of seeing what was in the garden. The excitement of being away for two weeks and finding new plants when I returned. New colours. New Scemts. The range of plants is excellent and the previous owner had an eye for detail. Some will need to change to take in the fact that we are not there peramanemtly. Some additions, More agapanthus more succulents. Some Mediterranean wildflower seed for the banks. A chop for the prickly pears to see if we can rid them of disease, a lesson in citrus.
Then coming back to London to my window boxes. My small patio garden at the back of the house. So very different to Spain. Tree ferns. A black bamboo. Salvia, Monarda. A bit of lavender. Oh. And more agapanthus. Delighted to find that the agapanthus in Spain self seeds as easily as have the London ones.
The ‘expensive ‘ book Ian commented on when I bought it has proved invaluable to identifying a lot of the plants. It also helps that the author Lorraine Kavannagh has a Garden centre – Competa just outside town. Something I didn’t know when I bought the book. Needless to say we have visited. On more than once occasion. I have also bought another book. Wildflowers of Southern Spain. That’s my reading material for my next flight. In 3 weeks time and will prove invaluable for the Spring months.
Back in London I have ordered the tulips for this years window boxes and pots. I like to change the colours but cannot move away totally from the lovely Brown Sugar. First seen at RHS Malvern and grown for the first time last year. I have ordered a delivery of Alliums, freesia and Chionodoxa for Spain. All from Karen at Peter Nyssen who is so generous with her time and help. Especially with those of us who know a bit and need some guidance. I always say that I garden. I am not a gardener per se and Karen is so helpful with suggestions of what to plant whenI need some help, So my orders are in and no doubt I will add to them as I remember things I’d like. I’m hoping that by the time the Alliums arrive in Spain the ground will be easier to plant. Fingers crossed there will have been some rain. Otherwise it’s hi ho hi ho it’s off to work I go – with a pickaxe. Which in fact I have in the garage full of tools we bought with the house. I now realise why there is a pickaxe there.
The planting of the bulbs in London will be a more sedate and easier affair! There is no major worry of frost in Spain ( he says glibly) but I must collect some straw from the local farmer in Somerset to put in the crowns of the tree ferns in London. I didn’t last year and was lucky. We seem to have a micro climate in the garden here which they seem to like as does the little olives and the banana. We had geraniums still blooming one a first floor window in January.
The back garden London
Our Cottage in Somerset is to be sold. I have loved having a typical Cottage garden – foxgloves,roses,clematis,poppies,honeysuckle fruit trees and a bit of veg. But all good things, like plants, has a life cycle and our time in Somerset has been wonderful. I have made so many gardening friends there and have had the opportunity to see some amazing gardens. But the new adventure is exciting. Hard work but fun. When I know what I am doing it will be even more fun, There will be mistakes. I have already made one or two planting errors. But thats part of the fun. Isn’t it
So I head into Autumn with an air of excitement. New bulbs new choices for London. New bulbs and a wonderment of what’s to come for the Spring in Andalucia.
Who said that retirement would be boring.