I have been in lock down so long that I have done all the normal gardening jobs that keep me busy. I have now got to the stage where I am hunting down things to do hence I have entered my Maria Kondo phase. Now to put this in context we are speaking about a man who can spend 8-10 hours in the garden, but I have literally done everything apart from dig it up and start again; and I have considered this. So this post is all about those little things you should be doing, and all those little areas that need tidying up once all the big things are done.
By the way, if you think this blog is losing some of its gardening edginess, then nothing could be further from the truth. I am deliberately saving my story of the battle with the giant rat in my compost bin; but only because the outcome is still in the balance. I believe that it what television dramatist call a “pot-boiler”. Anyway, enough of this, on with the gardening.
10th May. Things I have been doing lately
🙇♂️ Discovering new areas for plants. When you have done everything in your garden look around for new areas you can exploit. I have a small bed of gravel that runs around the edge of my Naya (veranda) that just sits there. Whilst passing it the other day I suddenly thought how nice it would look planted with lots of small succulents. The only problem was I didn’t have enough cuttings ready so I went around the garden hunting for hidden or overshadowed plants that could be moved. The two photos below show the potential gravel edge waiting with all its potential. Click on each photo for a larger view.
After scouring the potting bench and removing overshadowed plants from elsewhere in the garden I have made a start. Although this looks a bit sparse at the moment, I will build it up over the next few months and eventually I will have a green ribbon of succulents where once there was only gravel. This is something I would recommend you to try at home. For instance this would give a good effect along the edge of pathways. The pictures below show my efforts so far. The last photo shows my discovery of a little hidden plant that had been overshadowed over the years. Click on each photo for a larger view.
🌳 Reshaping the Mulberry tree: Some trees need to be reshaped otherwise they are just big amorphous lumps that do nothing for your garden. I have a number of reshaped and cloud pruned trees in my garden that give interest and life to areas of the garden. Some years ago Cruella (my wife) and I decided that we needed a bench under our Mulberry tree. To achieve this I had to hollow out the branches under the canopy to create the headroom and then trim the edge to create a sight line across the garden. This is now something I need to do twice a year to keep the tree functional and shapely. The photos below show the tree prior to its trim, after its trim and the hollowed our centre. Click on each photo for a larger view.
🧹 Tidying up my window boxes: Regular followers of this blog will remember that I have some North facing window boxes along the back of my house. I am not normally a fan of window boxes in Spain as they will obviously dry out in the intense heat of Summer. However, where you have a North facing wall they are a good way to bring some greenery to shady areas. I have planted these window boxes with various shade loving plants such as variegated ivies and Transcedentia etc. Over the gardening year these grow and cascade down giving me a green waterfall effect. However at this time of year you just need to trim them up and take off the old straggly growth. Once you have done this give them a little feed and they will be off again with a nice new green waterfall. The photos below show the before and after. Click on each photo for a larger view.
🏺 Tidying up my pots: The ultimate Maria Kondo task in gardening terms is tidying up your old pots. Like many gardeners I find it difficult to throw away pots, and consequently have accumulated so many that in the past they have toppled on top of me leaving me to be rescued by being pulled out by my legs. Now that Cruella (my wife) is still at our English house, and the added danger of the big rat (another teaser) I worry that not only will no one be there to rescue me if I suffer another pot avalanche, but the big rat may eat me alive whilst I’m trapped. Faced by these perfectly reasonable dangers I decided to tidy up the pots. The photos below show my efforts after the first sift and at each stage. It was difficult I kept making excuses for some pots and putting them back on the keep pile. After two hours I only had ten pots on the throw away pile – I hope I made the right decision. I got up in the middle of the night and rescued some from the bin! Click on each photo for a larger view.
👍 Growing my thumb nails long: This is the time of year when you will be constantly deadheading around your garden and taking off spent flowers to encourage new flowering. This will require numerous trips backwards and forwards to your potting shed to get your secateurs or scissors; sometimes for just one or two blooms. Well, here is a better way, why not carry your secateurs at the end of each hand. By growing your thumbnails long you can handily use the thumbnail and your forefinger to form readily available secateurs. By the end of Summer my thumbnails are so long that I look like a member of the Ming Dynasty.
It is traditional at this time of year that I post a photo of my thumbnail together with those of Cruella. Unfortunately, her absence in the U.K. meant that I had to ask her to send me a photo. The first photo below shows my growing thumbnails. The second is the photo Cruella sent of one of her necklaces. Click on each photo for a larger view.