I know the above heading doesn’t fill you with optimism, but it has been a very trying time. Cruella (my wife) has flooded part of the garden and destroyed my Lavender and on top of all this I caught her trying to poison me again! As if this is not bad enough I have two Agave Attenuata passing on to Gods garden in heaven. Anyway lets get on with the gardening, or whats left of it.
13th March 2022. Things I have been doing lately.
Removing Lavender. I knew there was something wrong with the Lavender around my water feature. It should have been starting to flower by now but it has remained stubbornly grey and dull. When I checked the stems there was no sign of green but more importantly the ground around the water feature was soggy and water logged. As I am sure you all know Lavender requires very dry soil with very little watering.
I remembered that I had asked Cruella to keep the water feature topped up when I was away. When I confronted her she admitted that she had forgotten to turn off the hose and had left it running over night. I told her enough was enough and that I was going to tell everyone what she had done in my blog. she just smiled at me malignly and said I might regret that. Anyway to cut a long story short, when I came in 10 minutes later I found her about to poison my teapot. The photo below could probably be used in a criminal prosecution.
The first photo shows the lavender looking suspiciously dead, whilst the second shows it heading towards the compost heap. Click on each photo for a larger view.
It is time to cut your palms: If you have palms trees, especially Phoenix Palms, then now is the time to get them pruned back. The Palm Weevil will be emerging soon as the weather begins to warm and they like nothing better than a nice freshly cut palm frond. Depending on the weather you probably have till the end of April before they fully emerge, so you better get cracking. If you have large Palms then you will need the services of a Palmista, don’t try and climb up long ladders wielding a chain saw, leave it to the professionals unless you have excellent health insurance.
The photos below show some of my 13 large palms freshly cut and looking neat and trim. The final photo shows the enemy. Click on each photo for a larger view.
Planting Aeonium cuttings. When large Palm tree are cut back there are certain disadvantages. Those large palm fronds that look so light and airy 40 feet up in the air are actually 15/20 foot long branches that are spiky and extremely heavy as they thud to the ground. Despite my best efforts to protect plants there are always casualties.
The easiest plant to deal with after destruction is the Aeonium. Just simply make up a nice free draining compost mix, go round and pick up the stems that have been knocked off the plant. Cut the stem With a sharp knife, leaving it roughly half its length. Fill the requisite number of 4 inch pots with your compost and then water them whilst they stand in a trug. This is my tip of the day, by watering them in a trug you allow the pots to sit in the water for a few minutes before taking them out to drain. The residual water in your trug can be poured over your compost heap or over some deserving plants. Your cuttings will soon take and can be planted out in about 3 months .The photos below show this process in action. Click on each photo for a larger view.
Preparing to plant seeds. You may be tempted to begin planting your seeds, but depending where you are in Spain, it may be too early. Even in the lovely sunny Costa Blanca night time temperatures are still too low for good germination. Leave it a few weeks and things will begin to warm up nicely. This doesn’t mean you can’t do anything. There are a couple of practical things you can be doing now that will get you off to a good start.
Firstly you can get out all your seed trays and check them over for damage; cracks and splits in trays mean you will lose water. Also it is very important that you thoroughly clean your trays of any trace of last years soil as it may harbour viruses and pathogens that could destroy this years seedlings.
Secondly, you can prepare your planting medium. For seeds you need a very free draining compost. I find the ideal mixture is two parts of a good store bought compost together with one part Perlite to give you that nice free drainage that seedlings prefer.
The first photo below shows some my seeds trays drying in the sun, the second shows the start of the mixing process, the following shows what the final compost mix should look like, and finally, the compost I am using. Other composts are available, but please do not buy a cheap one as it will be inferior and lead to poor germination. Click on each photo for a larger view.
Singing to my plants. Regular readers of this blog will know that I am a firm exponent of singing and talking to plants; and on occasions poetry can be efficacious. However it is important to match your output to the appropriate stage of the plants life. Seedlings and cuttings like jolly songs and nursery rhymes. Whilst mature plants are happy with show songs mixed in with a bit of country music; in my experience very few plants like rock music.
Anyway, the whole point of this is that I currently have two Agave Attenuata coming to the end of their flowering life, which in effect means death. I wouldn’t mind, but for a plant that usually only flowers after 10 or more years and then only once, I have had three in a year. Cruella thinks this signals the “end of days” and the second coming, I think its just good gardening.
With end of life plants your songs and poetry are obviously different to those you would sing or read to say, bulbs, because you know they are coming back. Both the Attenuata and I know we are talking end of life care. This involves a lot of tears, late night talks about when they were young, and often I will bring out old photos of when they were seedlings. We sing mainly opera and a few requiems. My aria of choice for these situations is always “Che gelida manina” from La Boheme with me singing the part of Rudolfo and the Attenuata as Mimi.
The end is near and we have started singing “Sona Anadati” so she knows we are at the end stage. I am dreading the death scene when I have to sing and sob “Mimi…Mimi” if you haven’t heard this then listen to it and cry. The first photos below show my Attenuata at the beginning of their flowering. The final photo shows me and the large Attenuata singing the aria “Che gelida manina”; you will notice I am holding her hand as the role demanda. Cruella took the final photo at my request, but she kept mockingly saying “I can’t hear the plant sing”; I replied “of course not, for that you need a Soul”. Click on each photo for a larger view.