I forgot to mention I was going away, but I’m a modest type of guy. Anyway I’ve been in Northern Ireland for a week with friends. We flew over and had a lovely time Cruella (my wife) came by broomstick. Now that I am back there is so much to do in the garden and I’ve barely had time to stop and write anything. Without further ado let’s get on with the garden stuff.
May 6th: Things I have been doing lately
✂️ Trimming and shaping a Jasmine arch. Jasmine grows spectacularly well in Spain and I am sure you have some. But as well as having lovely scent, Jasmine can also be used to drape or grow over man made or natural features in your garden. In other words it’s a good sprawler and coverer of the unsightly if required (what I call clothes). I have various Jasmine plants throughout the garden and I have been growing some over an arch by my gate. This has taken about two years to get it right and I am almost there. The first photo shows the Jasmine before its annual trim up. If you are growing Jasmine over a structure such as the aforesaid Arch, then it is best to tuck it in, wind it around, and only then start to trim any branches sticking out that offend your sensibilities or shape. The second photo shows the newly trimmed Jasmine. At the end of this growing season the arch should be complete. If it looks good I will show you a photo, if not, you will never hear of it again.
🙈 Trimming fig espalier. Those of you who are regular readers of this blog will know that another long term project of mine is to grow an espalier fig up the wall of our outside kitchen. This takes time and patience as the first shock of the espalier cut sets the plant back a bit. The fig and I have had a discussion and we have decided that this is the year for real growth. I have promised feed and it has promised growth. Forget all that North/South Korea stuff the tension is building here in my garden.
The first photo shows the current state of the fig; and I have to admit it is trying its best. To keep the espalier going you need to trim all the leaves that are growing against the wall as these will do nothing for the plant. Secondly you need to tie in the new growth along wires. Tie in when the branches are still green and “whippy”. You will have to do this little and often. If you leave the branches till they “Brown” and harden up, they will just break when you try to bend them. The second photo shows the fig trimmed and tied in. What do you mean you can’t see any difference! I can and that’s what counts; I don’t get paid for this you know.
🌱 Tieing in the lovely Solanum. Regular readers will know that I have been growing this Solanum from cuttings from my friend Margarita. To say it is flourishing would be an understatement. Planted out as a rooted cutting earlier this year, it must be almost 20 foot and growing like Topsy (literary allusion to famous slave era novel in the USA, c’mon look it up). Anyway, the aforesaid Solanum is now growing horizontally along wires, but like all plants, it yearns for the vertical. So to keep it going the way I want it to, I regularly have to get out my ladder and tie it along the wires. This plant is going so well that I am taking cuttings for elsewhere in my garden and also for my friend David, who is to gardening what Atilla the Hun was to world peace.
The first photo below shows the Solanum trying to creep over the roof of the outside kitchen. The second photo shows the Solanum tied in (at least for the moment). The third photo shows the new front I have opened up (military gardening term) whereby I am training the Solanum around a corner and along another wall. Click each photo to see an enlarged version.
🌳Trimming back hedges. Now at this time of the year hedges can begin to look a bit straggly, but in the case of most of my hedges they are made up of flowering plants such as: Jasmine, Bignonia, Hibiscus etc and obviously whilst I want them to look tidy I don’t want to lose the flowers. All to often as I walk around our village I see people trimming their hedges right back to a nice neat square shape for Summer, not realising that they are cutting out all the potential flowering stems. What you need to do is just trim back the leading shoots (those that are longest) but don’t cut into the body of the hedge. In this way you will get the basic shape, but you won’t lose the flowers.
This first photo below shows a straggly section of hedge that looks untidy, the second photo shows it trimmed back but not scalped.
🌿 Tidying up the Mulberry tree. We have been shaping our Mulberry tree for a few years to make it a focal feature of one part of the garden. By trimming out the under canopy branches we have been able to make a nice seating area where we have placed a circular metal bench we had made specially. This provides a lovely shaded area to sit and take in the view over this part of the garden. However, Mulberries need trimming up or they begin to look like someone with a bad fringe.
The first photo below shows the untrimmed Mulberry looking like the missing Beatle (Musical sixties allusion, apologies to all young gardeners). The second photo shows the tree ready to face the world with its new sensible haircut.
🍈 Trimming the topiary Olive tree. Regular readers (both of you), will remember that I have given up processing my own olives ever since Cruella (my wife) pointed out that we had cornered the market in out of date bottled jars of olives. Instead I cut the olive tree back and am aiming for a topiary effect. Well the picture below shows my first effort. I cut the tree back last year and have been letting it regrow in selected areas. I did the first trim the other day, but it will gradually fill out and I think it will be quite spectacular. Watch this space. The photo below shows the olive in all its glory. I have entitle my creation “spheres”, Cruella calls it “balls”.
Finally to finish off this post here is something really cute. Whilst Cruella and I were sitting having our morning cup of tea on the terrace; which in itself is unusual as Cruella doesn’t normally come out in the daylight! We were surprised to see one of the Red squirrels that frequent our garden admiring himself in a water feature. I thought how nice, Cruella thought it would make nice mittens.