I know it is hot everwhere, and goodness knows here in Spain we should be used to it. But it is really hot and as such we gardeners are suffering far more than the general public. You just get tanned, buy ice cream and jump in the pool. Whilst we poor gardeners are running around and watering like crazy only to see plants that have been fine for years, just keel over and go to that great compost heap in the sky. Each morning I emerge with trepidation to see that everyone is ok, only to find out we lost another good plant in the night. It’s like a medieval siege, unless relief comes soon we are lost. I have even asked Cruella (my wife) if she could cast a rain spell, but she just laughs knowingly and says she doesn’t know what I mean; but she does.
30th July: Things I have been doing lately
🌞 Trying to save the lawns. My lawns have literally become deserts – or is it metaphorically – but that doesn’t matter the end result is large black bare patches where there should be grass. If you have grass in Spain you have to expect this, but this year is the worst ever. The cause is obviously the heat of the Sun which has been relentless for over two months. There is no rain on the way so we will probably be like this till late September or October. All you can do is mitigate the damage. I am watering deeply every second night with in lawn sprinklers. You must do this when the Sun has gone down and the heat is going out of the day. Don’t water every night as this shallow watering will only encourage the roots to come up seeking the water and they will duly get scorched the next day. The photo below shows an area of my poor lawn; I showed the photo to Cruella but she just smirked and asked me what I wanted her to do about it – but she knows!
Also as an aside to the watering issue, you need to check all your irrigation systems at least weekly. Our part of Spain is a holiday destination and the population can easily double during July and August. This means greater water usage and a concomitant drop in water pressure. Therefore irrigation nodules that where giving your plants plenty of water in the Spring will now not be sprinkling as widely and may not be reaching your plants.
🙏 Rehoming orphans. It’s true I have turned into Mr Bumble the Parish Beadle who treated Oliver Twist so badly. You will remember that I emptied some of the Orphanage (potting bench) a little while go. I mentioned at the time that as there was no room in the planting beds I was going to repot most things and wait for the beds to empty. Well in the main that is true, but foolishly I did plant out a few plants in areas that really weren’t suitable for them. In other words like Mr Bumble I rehomed them badly. I watched them struggle for a few weeks but in the end after sleepless nights worrying I have corrected my mistakes.
The first photo below shows a badly rehomed Lantana planted under a hedge of Jasmine and Bignonia supplemented by Ivy from my next door neighbour. What was I thinking of it would never survive there. I dug it up one night when the heat of the day had gone and rehomed it in a space I made in one of the beds. The second photo below shows the replanted and happier Lantana, it even has a little flower. I have now taken to calling myself Mr Brownlow (look it up – gardening and great literature).
🛌 Repotting Cordlyines. When I was going through my Mr Bumble phase I also made another mistake, but I want to confess everything now so that we can move on. As a Christian I believe in forgiveness and redemption. The problem here was that I was repotting some Cordylines but did not have large enough clay pots to put them in, so I foolishly cut corners and placed them in undersize plastic pots. Now the problem with doing this is two fold. First, because the pots where too small the plants would become pot bound quite quickly and this in turn would stunt overall growth. But the second and more serious mistake was to put them in plastic pots. Now plastic pots are fine and are useful for repotting in the winter. But if your plant is to stand in the sun then it needs to be in a clay pot. The clay pot will hinder evaporation and stop the roots getting too hot. A side benefit of a clay pot with a tall plant like Cordyline is that the extra weight will stop the plant being blown over on a windy day.
The first photo below shows the Cordylines looking at me reproachfully as they stand by their potential new homes. The second photo shows them happily rehomed. I prefer my Brownlow to my Bumble – that sounds a bit obscene but you know what I mean.
🐛 Fighting off the evil Weevil. In case you have forgotten the dreaded Palm Weevils will be circling your Phoenix Palms as you read this. The Palm Weevil loves this hot weather and will be trying to burrow into your Palm tree to lay its eggs which in turn will kill your tree. With small trees you can just spray the crown with proprietary killer and they should be ok. But with large trees, and mine are all large, you need another solution. I have told you before, but I will tell you again, just in case you weren’t listening last time. Either pay a contractor to spray your trees or, if you have a head for heights and a profound deathwish do it yourself.
The alternative is to do what I have done. Drill into the trees, feed a perforated tube in then pour in Weevil killer and let the rising sap take it up to all the branches. This has the effect of turning your tree into a toxic Weevil assassinator. The photo below shows one of my trees mid treatment. All you need is the tube in place, a jug with the Weevil killer mixed with water and an old Fairy liquid bottle to squirt the poison down the tube and into the tree.
🐺 Letting sleeping dogs lie. Finally to cheer you all up and prove how hot it is, the photo below shows Tango dreaming of getting back into the pool. I swim with both dogs every day and am planning to offer holidays to the general public “swimming with Labradors” – Dolphins are old hat, and they smell of fish.
3 thoughts on “My lawn is a desert and I have turned into Mr Bumble!”
That poor palm looks so humiliated with that hose stuck into it! How sad! I am not aware of any such critter here yet. Date palms became more popular in the 1990s as date orchard in Nevada were getting displaced by the urban sprawl of Las Vegas. The male pollinator trees were not recycled with the female orchard trees, so there is no messy fruit.
The Red Palm Weevil came to Spain in a shipment of Date Palms from Egypt in the 1950’s. At this time Spain was covered in Phoenix Palms, many very old and majestic. However, once the Palm Weevil started its spread was rapid. The grubs kill the fronds of the tree by munching up their length, the fronds then bend downwards to the ground and the tree dies. The authorities were very slow to start spraying programmes and we probably lost millions of trees. The general public couldn’t do much as all the action was right at the crown of the tree which could be 20-50ft above their head. It is slowly getting better but still a long way to go, hence my improvised tube in tree solution.
Cruella has just asked who I am writing to and says hello.
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I could not imagine losing date palms here, and they are not even as prominent as they are there. The Canary Island Date palm is a popular ornamental tree, particularly in Southern California, but even there, other palms are more popular. Many are dying now from pink rot that was spread during thei 1980s, back when the ‘pineapple cut’ was popular. The trees were pruned more regularly than they had been in the 1970s, so were more frequently exposed to the pathogen by way of chain saws. Younger trees are more resilient.
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