Sometimes in the most impeccably designed gardens there is a slight lack of joy that has been replaced by meticulousness, neatness has removed spontaneity and love of plants has given way to colour symmetry. And that dear readers is why I have broken all my design rules and grown my mini sunflowers; just for the heck of it. But more of my joy later, it is so hot and there is so much to be getting on with, and to add a frisson of danger Cruella (my wife) is back with a new business idea.
20th June 2022. Things I have been doing lately:
Keeping Geraniums alive. Many people in Spain have more or less given up on geraniums because of the blight of geranium moths. These small moths lay their eggs underneath the flowers and on the stems of geraniums before they hatch out and burrow into the plant leaving it an unsightly mess that eventually dies. I have only started growing geraniums again last year, and I have a steely determination to keep them alive. My routine that has worked so far, involves the following.
- Taking each plant out of its pot holder once a week and holding it up to inspect underneath the leaves.
- Where I find any browning or decaying leaves I remove these at the same time as deadheading.
- Feed each plant with a specific geranium feed; this keeps them strong and able to withstand any moth damage.
- Spray all over the plants with special anti moth insecticide (do not spray in sunlight).
The photos below show the war of the moths in action. I told Cruella (my wife) I am thinking of making myself a Moth Man costume; however, she reckons that all my clothes look like a Moth Man costume. Click on each photo for a larger view.
Digging up garlic. I normally plant a few cloves of garlic under one of my trees each Autumn and harvest my little crop roundabout now. This has worked well in previous years, but has been disappointing this year. The bad weather in the Spring and the recent extreme heat has meant that when I dug up the harvest it was very disappointing. Given that I only grow four plants, two of them had small skinny bulblets rather than the large plump bulbs I normally find.
Anyway, if you want to grow garlic, start in October by planting a few cloves finger deep. Dig them up roundabout now, but always use a spade not a fork as you do not want to puncture the bulbs. Once you have dug the plant up leave the stem and leaves attached and place them in a shaded dry area to give them time to dry out. Do not attempt to wash the soil off the garlic bulbs as this will just create mould. Instead leave them to fully dry out and then gently brush the dirt off after a couple of weeks. You can then start to use the garlic just as you would from a shop.
The first photo below shows me getting ready to dig up the crop. The second shows me using a spade to go round and gently lift the crop. The final photo shows my disappointing crop waiting to dry. I can’t help but believe that Cruella (my wife) may have had something to do with this crop failure. For obvious reasons she doesn’t like garlic. Click on each photo for a larger view.
The joy of sunflowers. I try to plan my garden where possible with scale, colour and design kept in some sort of proportion. But earlier this spring you may recall I got a sudden fancy for another little flowerbed and created one next to my water feature. Normally the dictates of garden design meant that to keep the scale and design of the water feature I should have planted low growing plants with small foliage and flowers. But bugger, that I fancied some real joyous heart stopping fun plants. So I planted Mini Sunflowers, a new type of clump forming Marigold and Gazanias.
The result has been joyous and it makes my smile everytime I walk across the lawn towards the new flower bed. Even at this stage, before its full development it is fantastic. Yes, it is out of scale, viewed from some angles it looks awkward. But viewed full on, you cannot help but smile; I have chosen joy over design and I’m so pleased.
The first photo below shows my little flowerbed viewed from the rear, and I can hear you say what has he done , it is totally out of scale. But wait for it, the second shows the same flowerbed how you are meant to view it. All you can do is smile; and say thank you God.
Succession planting. Because I love my mini sunflowers so much I am going to use them in my summer succesion planting in the borders along my drive. The basic idea behind succession planting is that as one set of plants die back so you have another set growing ready to infill border spaces. I don’t want to go into the full process here, but I will comeback to it in the Spring.
But at the moment I have been removing some Osteospermums to create gaps in the borders which I will now infill with my lovely new sunflowers. The photos below show that I have taken out selected plants to create the necessary gaps, but still left enough Osteospermums to ensure lots of seeds for next year.
Below are some photos of gaps (photo journalism at its best), followed by one of my mini Sunflowers ready to create smiles. Click on each photo for a larger view.
Cruella returns with a new business idea. Cruella (my wife) has been at our English house with our idiot son and has returned with a whole new business idea to add to her existing product lines. A few months ago Cruella decided that as I spend all my time in the garden she needed some new interests, hence, Cruella Enterprises. So far her product lines include:
- Magic loofahs, guaranteed to remove even the most stubborn nose warts.
- Eggs from her fancy chickens at roughly €500 per egg.
She now proposes to add to her product lines a whole range of commercial signs for the busy witch. When I pointed out that she only ever sells 13 of anything which is exactly the number of people in her Coven, she flew into a rage and screamed that I never back her in anything she does and that I am always trying to undermine her. Anyway it turns out that the Chicken Coop is quite comfortable.
The photo below shows Cruella’s new range of signs, they will be in full production by Halloween.