Spanish gardens are great in June

By Clodagh and Dick Handscombe – Practical holistic self sufficient gardeners and gardening authors and broadcasters now enjoying their twenty fifth June in Spain.

Spring to summer transitions

Early June is the end of the transition from Spring to Summer and the second half of the month is where summer becomes real. Until now inland temperatures have been below those on the coast but from now onwards inland temperatures on the inland plain beyond the coastal mountains can rise above those on the coast.

Many inland plantings will have been held back until May perhaps being made four to six weeks later than coastal plantings but now they start to catch up. But as the temperatures rise irrigation will become more important in both locations for things sown or planted this spring and those with a low drought resistance.

Flower changes

Roses are now towards the end of their Spring flowerings and lantanas and hibiscus start to take over as long flowering alternatives. Roses will flower intermittently and with luck all three will be in harmony to flower together at Christmas. Spring irises are now replaced by summer lilies and winter jasmine by various varieties of bignonias and passion flowers etc..

South African daisy like plants and rock roses are past their best in most gardens but geraniums are now in full flower and leonotis and summer flowering sages will soon take centre stage. Spring flowering Judas trees are now forming seed pods under their leafy umbrella but the even more exotic jacarandas albizias and bird of paradise/ devils tongue trees are coming into flower.

For a comprehensive list and illustrated descriptions of the most sensible plants for late spring and summer as well as the autumn and winter see Part Four of our book ‘Your Garden in Spain – from planning to planting and maintenance’. Botanical Spanish and English plant names are given.

The book is of interest not only to permanent residents of Spain and other Mediterranean climate locations but also owners of holiday homes whether for own use or rental. Additionally with the effects of global warming affecting gardens in the southern counties of the England and Wales gardeners there will find inspiration for modifying the traditional English garden which is at it’s best in a mild versus hot climate and with regular showers versus long periods of drought which this year has apparently been the worst for a century.

 

Vegetable sequencing

Spring asparagus broccoli broad beans and pea crops are now over but courgettes tomatoes peppers and aubergines are phasing in. Over wintered onions leeks and garlic are now harvested and summer harvested onions now planted along with cucumbers squash and melons and a last sowing – before the major autumn sowings – of carrots made. Potatoes are now half harvested and peanuts planted in their place a few weeks ago are already up and have just been earthed up. Globe artichokes are slowing down but Jerusalem artichokes are now two metres high.

Our book ‘Growing Healthy Vegetables in Spain’ describes how to grow up to a hundred different types of vegetables at various times of the year and how to make the best of Spain’s two springs – Spring and the generally benign Autumn.

Fruit is most delicious when eaten fresh from the tree bush or plant

On the fruit front we have now harvested the last of our mandarins and oranges. Some being sliced and dried for storage and an ingredient in our home grown dried fruit mix. This was a great energy booster on a 150 kilometre walk two weeks ago and a fishing trip ñast week Yes Dick has a busy spring to celebrate his 75th year.

Fortunately there are perpetual flowering and fruiting lemon trees such as the Lunar variety that we grow.

Cherries are ended but today we enjoyed home grown perfectly ripe peaches, apricots, raspberries, red and black currants, wild plums from a tree that just appeared seeded by bird droppings, and alpine strawberries. But while enjoying these we could not forget that the autumn cropping fruit trees such as almonds, persimmons, apples and pears that now need deep watering and a spring feed to ensure that young fruits swell. Figs are best left dry to encourage fruit versus excessive greenery and like wise the grape vines.

Our book ‘Growing Healthy Fruit in Spain’ introduces over seventy fruits indicating the best heights above sea level for each and the care at planting time and season by season to achieve good crops. Grow you own, spray ecologically to avoid chemical residues and delay harvesting until fully ripe and you will soon stop buying hard unripe artificially coloured fruit grown and harvested to withstand fast hand or mechanical harvesting, transportation and storage, sorting and packing and further transported etc.. Spain’s year round sunshine is just right for ripening so many fruits that is not difficult to select and plant a mix of fruits that will enable you to harvest fresh fruit on every day of the year.

Mediterranean apartment gardens

Although much of the above relates to villa gardens as we explain in our latest book ‘Apartment Gardening Mediterranean Style’ it is esasy to grow a diversity of fruit and vegetables on apartment terraces, balconies and windowsills from the first to fiftieth level in a Benidorm tower block.

So from now on enjoy your flower filled perfumed and high yielding summer gardens. All grown ecologically for the health of family, pets, benificial wildlife and neighbours.

© Clodagh and Dick Handscombe June 2011.