Mediterranean Gardens

Tulips up - but not at home

Tulips up – but not at home

Despite the Easter chills at home, we have managed to spend some time surveying some more warm weather gardens.

Easter was spent in Cornwall – the Cornish Riviera I think is what they like to call it.  I always felt that chucking a piece of French on the end of something English to make it sound more exotic was doomed to failure – and in the chill north-easterly winds of Easter Weekend the warm water soubriquet was even more absurd.  Thoughts of sun-drenched beaches and ice creams melting before you can eat them were quickly dispelled.

Succulents in the Biome

Succulents in the Biome

So we went along to the Eden Project where the biomes are heated to produce climates more akin to tropical rain forests and Mediterranean climes.  It is very impressive with a good selection of plants from around the world including the Fynbos with which we had become familiar last summer in South Africa.  The Mediterranean biome does sometimes look a little devoid of plant material – but then that is what you get if you are standing in the middle of a semi-arid zone in California, say.  On our return, The OM told me that when he and mum went soon after it was opened, he heard some visitors from “oop country” complaining that there was not much to see – which compelled him to give them the unsolicited advice that this was a desert – hence the lack of major plant life.And desert is exactly what mum did to dad as soon as she saw him taking on the role of self-styled tour guide.

Sometimes I can feel myself getting the urge to offer unsolicited pearls of wisdom.  It is an urge I must fight against at all costs.  Oh, the dread of heredity.

Suffice to say our visit was a most agreeable one, and I could see that on a fine day the outside beds would be beautiful to wander around too.  But not in the sub-zero wind blast.

"We hacked a ragged grave in the unfriendly earth" (John Cornford, A letter from Aragon)

“We hacked a ragged grave in the unfriendly earth” (John Cornford, A letter from Aragon)

Our other visit to Mediterranean zones involved a short trip by surly Ryanair (with a much happier return trip with Easyjet) to southern Spain where my little big brother, Paul, has purchased a property.  It is a lovely spot on top of a hill overlooking Almunecar, on the Costa Tropical.  On this occasion the grand name is lived up to by the location, with palm trees and exotic succulents throughout the town.  Paul’s apartment is cut into the hill, so the only “garden” he has consists of a window box and a piece of terracing out the back, which is essentially rock and rubble.  His neighbour took two days chiseling a square hole in the cliff face before inserting a japonica.  We were not sure if he was planting a shrub or trying to build a fence.

"High on a hill..."  Moorish Wath Tower on the Cost Tropical

“High on a hill…” Moorish Watch Tower on the Costa tropical

Paul, meanwhile, has bought geraniums for the window box and a Bougainvillea  from the market, which he managed to simply plant straight into his part of the vertiginous back lot as he miraculously found a small spot of soil.  He has other flowers along the back bought from the market.  There might not be too many plants in hs back garden, but then again, there are not always that many in these semi arid zones – just ask my dad (or rather make some comment within his earshot and he will tell you without being asked).

About midlifegardener

Being a PE teacher in an Independent School is increasingly pressurised with collleagues and parents alike offering opinions on how you should be doing your job. So time spent in the garden is essential in maintaining one's persepctive on life, as other skew theirs.
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