I have to confess that I’ve been practising hair dressing on Marguerites and they are not impressed. I’ve also neglected some grape vines to the extent that if the Spanish Society for the Protection of Grape Vines found out, they would be taken into care.
25th April: Things I have been doing today.
💐 Cutting back Marguerite Daisies: Marguerites are the harbinger of Spanish Spring and the first welcome sign that the warm weather is on its way. However, all good things come to an end, and it is time to cut them back. Now there are two schools of thoughts on Marguerite trimming. One favours cutting back each of the individual flowers on the plant as they die, and as you know there are hundreds. The benefit of this approach is that the plant always looks tidy and you exercise your lower back muscles bending over with your scissors every day. The other school of thought, of which I am an arch exponent involves leaving the plant to flower right the way through so you end up with a plant that has both dead and new flowers at the same time. Eventually when you have a ratio of roughly 75% dead flowers to 25% live, then is the time to cut back (see photo). The benefit of this approach is that you are not interfering with the plant all the time. You give it a nice haircut all at once (but make sure you cut only the green do not cut into brown wood). The added bonus is that come late summer if you look underneath the plant you will see lots of young Marguerite seedlings happily growing away ready for you to transplant. Now, if you had followed the silly way of cutting back the flowers everyday, you would have had a nice tidy plant and a bad back, but you would probably be buying new Marguerites next year rather than getting them free.
💐 Taking care of neglected grapes: About three years ago my neighbour gave me some twig cuttings from his grapevine. Which I duly planted straight into the ground beside our swimming pool. The idea was that when we play table tennis in the pool area, we are so bad at the game that the ball constantly flies through the balustrades and someone then has to walk out and get the ball usually in bare feet over stones, which is painful.
I confess to neglecting these vines, mainly for the respectable horticultural reason that I have not played table tennis lately. But those days are gone, I intend to have a renewed interest in the game this summer, and to this end those grapevines have been spoiled. Grape vines can be planted in poor soil and really do not need much water apart from in a drought. They can be fed occasionally but never manured, and they will respond with good leaf and you can have grapes from year three. It is also important to tie them in otherwise they will flop. The photo below shows the vines in their new found vigour after my renewed self interest. I have taken a wire along the balustrades between the two plants with the intention of creating a cordon between them. This is a win win all round, the plants get fed and supported whilst my feet get saved from being lacerated by stones. By the way it is mainly my wife who knocks the ball out – I’m really quite good!