Friday, September 04, 2015


I know this isn't gardening, but would like this to be accessible, as an inspirational reminder of the infinite enjoyment I have had from his writing and broadcasts:

Oliver Sacks.

Today, Oliver Sacks died, the great neurologist, author and wise man. I was so moved to read what he wrote upon learning his life was coming to an end:

"Over the last few days, I have been able to see my life as from a great altitude, as a sort of landscape, and with a deepening sense of the connection of all its parts. This does not mean I am finished with life.

On the contrary, I feel intensely alive, and I want and hope in the time that remains to deepen my friendships, to say farewell to those I love, to write more, to travel if I have the strength, to achieve new levels of understanding and insight. ...
I feel a sudden clear focus and perspective. There is no time for anything inessential. I must focus on myself, my work and my friends. I shall no longer look at “NewsHour” every night. I shall no longer pay any attention to politics or arguments about global warming.

This is not indifference but detachment — I still care deeply about the Middle East, about global warming, about growing inequality, but these are no longer my business; they belong to the future. I rejoice when I meet gifted young people — even the one who biopsied and diagnosed my metastases. I feel the future is in good hands.
I have been increasingly conscious, for the last 10 years or so, of deaths among my contemporaries. My generation is on the way out, and each death I have felt as an abruption, a tearing away of part of myself. There will be no one like us when we are gone, but then there is no one like anyone else, ever. When people die, they cannot be replaced. They leave holes that cannot be filled, for it is the fate — the genetic and neural fate — of every human being to be a unique individual, to find his own path, to live his own life, to die his own death.

I cannot pretend I am without fear. But my predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved; I have been given much and I have given something in return; I have read and traveled and thought and written. I have had an intercourse with the world, the special intercourse of writers and readers.
Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure.


Monday, August 24, 2015

Bumper crops

 Quadruple the number of crops this year and we managed to harvest some before the birds got to them.   But as you can see, plenty left for all of us.
 And as for the Moscatel grapes.....marvellous.   Last year and the year before everyone's grapes went mildewy.     Not this year - delicious. 
When I left for the UK a month ago to be with a sick friend, these were all miniscule.   What a change in a month. 

I forgot to photograph the pomegranates.  Again, so many this year that I must find some recipes.  Up until this year we could count on one hand the number of fruits.   I have no idea why this year is so different.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Vanilla Delight

For 12 years we've lived with a dark terracotta villa with lemon top trim.   Last time el jefe repainted about 2 years ago he said "that's it, I'll get someone in to do it next time".   Well "next time" was this month when Paco and Manolo turned up to turn our house into a cream and green delight.   Rain stopped play (in June !) for 2 days but now it's all finished, it's fabulous. 

We found a forgotten box of beautiful Portuguese ceramic butterflies and they have been added to the house name, which means The Rainbows - we have crystals hanging in the windows which catch the early morning sun.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Welcome, beauties

El jefe planted these and forgot to label them up.   They were in the same pot as freesias which appeared in the Spring.

Soon after they'd finished flowering, three strong looking plants made a start and at first we got this intense orange.

The red showed up a couple of weeks later

and finally, really late for the beauty contest, this yellow one.

I'd love to have more of these in the ground, if only I knew what they were.  
Please comment if you have the Latin and common name for them.   xxxx

Monday, June 15, 2015

Weird Weather

or as Paco, the gardener, puts it "tiempo loco".   And I'm aware I'm being typically English to write a blog about the climate.    But it has been so strange.   Last month, we had temperatures in the high 30sC and chilly at night.   The Levante appeared for a week and sucked the life out of everything the high temperatures didn't threaten.   This week we have rain, at a time when the house exterior was to be painted.   Two days is all that could be managed before the rains came.  Temperatures plummeted and woollies had to be dug out.    Fingers crossed, today is supposed to be the last day so the walls get a chance to dry out and we'll be spic and span in a few days.

We are losing the terracotta colour and substituting cream for the walls and green for the top edges.  In the autumn, we plan to have the whole house fitted with guttering, instead of one corner.  

Lilies which have lain dormant for a couple of years have decided to flower.   And we now have a new hibiscus bed near the fountain.....they really like it there.  

It's that time of year for soft fruit and, once again, we are drowning in plums.   I'll have to get blanching and freezing for the winter crumbles.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

More garden art

These are traditional Mediterranean roof tiles and Jackie, a local artist, has a large portfolio of her work, or will paint one to order.    We saw the passion flower one and had to have it:  the blue iris is stunning so we ordered one of those.    Both are now hanging in the patio and are very at home with the rest of the this clematis which is still waiting to be planted in a bit pot, but decided to flower anyway:

As every gardener knows, this is a busy time of year, weeding, mowing, propagating and planting -  it is endless.....and endlessly satisfying.