What a cornucopia of gardening delights are summed up in this heading. Now we are at the height of Summer I am sure you are running around like headless chickens not knowing which job to tackle next. There are flowers to be deadheaded, weeds to be hoed, grass to be cut and the nightly watering ritual that has turned me into a Spanish version of Kipling’s “Gunga Din” – gardening and empire, I am spoiling you.
29th July. Things I have been doing lately:
🛏 Re-making a bed. A flower bed obviously before you ask. I have a number of island beds within my garden which every couple of years need a make over. The photo below shows the flower bed before its make over.
From the photo you can see the flower bed has been left with a profusion of Magreit Daisies that I have deliberately allowed to self seed into the surrounding shingle. The flowers surround a mature Sago Palm and in their first couple of years it looks interesting and very naturalistic. But, as I have left this for at least three years, with just a cut back every year, the Magreits have become woody and will not take another cut back, so it is time to clear up. Also, the Sago Palm is in need of a trim to keep its architectural structure.
The first thing to do is pull up the Magreits sometimes they can be quite tough to get up, but the reward is that underneath will be a number of seedlings which I will replant in this bed in September/October. The first photo below shows the poor old Magreits lying like plague corpses waiting to go in the charnel pit; but wait! there is new life as the second photo shows some seedlings (many more will come out now they can see the light).
Once the Magreits have been cleared it was time to turn my attention to the Sago Palm. These Palms are relatively slow growing and very expensive so you don’t want to mess up the pruning and have it die. The rule here is you can cut back, but you must leave at least two rows of fronds at the top of the trunk. This is your insurance policy, it is possible to lose one row, but to paraphrase the words of Lady Bracknell, “to lose one row may be regarded as a misfortune, to lose both looks like carelessness”. Just snip round with lopers until you have just two rows left and then stop don’t be tempted to go any further. The first photo below shows the underneath of the unpruned Palm, whilst the second shows just how many fronds can come off.
Finally, and this is the bonus. You remember that I told you a few paragraphs ago how expensive Sago Palms are, well this is your surprise. If you are lucky your Sago Palm will have produced some “pups” at the base of their trunk. These are mini Sago Palms that can be harvested and grown as completely new Palms thereby saving you a fortune. I will show you how to do this in a couple of months. In the meantime here is a photo of the pups to get you excited, and finally a photo of the completed bed.
🦇 Beginning to harvest Figs. Yes, it really is Figageddon. Now I like Figs; no I actually love Figs, and if you have netted your trees you should be at the start of harvest. If on the other hand you have not netted your tree as I told you the other month, then all the fat over-Figged birds of the Costa Blanca thank you for the feast.
Figageddon, is not a term of exaggeration as I explained to Cruella (my wife) as I ran into her bedroom at 5am the other morning screaming “Figageddon is upon us”. To say she was underwhelmed would be an exaggeration; she didn’t even come down from the beam where she was hanging and I had to conduct the whole conversation with her hanging upside down and still with her wings wrapped around her. Anyway, I explained to Cruella that Figageddon is a technical term (which I have invented) for a “glut” of Figs that will overwhelm you unless you harvest every day. You need to check your Fig trees every morning. At first you will get 3 or 4 ripe Figs, then 6 or 7 , but it will gradually build up to “FIGAGEDDON’ where dozens will ripen each day. At this point no matter how many you eat, you will still have to give some away to friends, make Fig Jam or dry them like I do. I’ll tell you more about drying later. Meanwhile here is a photo of the start of Figageddon – you have been warned.