Spanish autumn gardens

Autumn pruning after the Spanish rain

The autumn storms and days of drizzle on the expat coastal plain and nearby inland valleys have , in most places, done no more than green up gardens and the surouunding  landscapes and dampen the top two to four centimetres of soil, which have dried up again with temperatures again into the 30’s centigrade. It is still not a good time to plant trees and shrubs and vegetable plantlets need a copious soaking when planted and spray watering every couple of days.

However after the longest drought, in many places the most severe for over 70 years, many shrubs have taken off with upto a metre of new growth in two weeks. Those near paths and terraces or blocking out other plants have had to be urgently pruned to enjoy colurful autumn gardens at their best. This will need to be continued through to Christmas to ensure tidy, colourful and safe Christmas and New Year gardens until the winter cut back which will start in January.

Planting up autumn vegetable plantlets in Spain

We have now planted up or sown, in raised bes and containers, 90% of our autumn winter and early spring crops. Broad beans, peas, leeks and some more onions and garlic will follow in November. With the continuing warm days and nights they are needing a light watering every two days. If you have yet to grow vegetables here our book ‘Growing healthy vegetables in Spain’ will speed you on your way to great crops.

Spanish bulbs up already

Bare earth between plants and shrubs are all of a sudden grreen with the faast growing shoots of Christmas and spring bulbs. The most advanced being cyclamens, daffodils, freesias while  peruvian scillas, eremurus, miribilis and talbagias continue to give good shows. Now is the time to look out for special offers of garden and terrace bulbs.

New snowdrop named  ‘Richard Handscombe’

Out of the blue I recently received a marketing missive from Ebay announcing a new variety of snow drop named as if dedicated to myself, Richard/Dick Handscombe. The full name of the snowdrop marketed is ‘Galanthus elwesii Richard Handscombe’. But the dedication is not so and we did not find or breed it.

I asked a well known snowdrop specialist to check this out for me as at first I thought it was a con. But no indeed someone has found and named the snowdrop after one of the several other Richard Handscombe’s who come up when one does a Google Search. Would be nice to havea clump in the garden but here in Spain it would probably not survive the first summer drought conditions when many soft fleshed bulbs are eaten by moisture searching insects and animals – including wild boar – and I am would be unlikely to spend a hundred pounds plus on a novelty bulb.

Richard Handscombe’s new book ‘Auditing and improving company cultures’

A few months ago it occurred to me that many of the newspaper reports about companies being challenged or fined for their market place practices are those that replaced the widespread growing of garden foods and the use of natural preventives or remidies from gardens or the local countryside. I therefore collated a series of easy to understand and use, personally or by corporate teams, concepts and self audits related to both the external and internal manifestations of corporate culturres by companies of all sizes, all ages and all product or service ranges.

The handy book is now available inexpensively from Amazon Books as a normal book and as a Kindle book. If you are now retired it book could be a useful stocking filler for executive sons or daughters, or those on management courses.

Auditing your drought damage

With the long drought ended now is the time to check what plants were lost or required most support to keep them alive. Ideas for modyfying plantings and taking steps to prepare for the next period of cxrought are included in the book ‘How to use less water in your garden – A practical guide to waterwise gardening worldwide’. This is available from Amazon Books and other internet sites.

Salvia forest now in flower

As for the past two autumns our autumn display of tall salvias, upto almost fopur metres tall,  is now coming into full bloom. Hopefully we will have the third winter in a row with no frosts to achieve the same again next year.

Dreaming up new garden designs when fishing – a great new venue

Dick took a rest from gardening and writing last month a spent a few restful but creative days on the banks of the lower Ebro. A private estate with very resticted fishing away from the crowds and illegal fishing of the Caspe area was great. Just the splashes of fish, flashing kingfishers and gliding little egrets disturbed the days. The peacefulness and beaty of the riverside landscape and distant mountain tops stimulated me to compare it with traditional Japanese gardens and consider how many Spanish gardens could be easily improved.

If you are looking for somewhere special  to fish in southern Cataluñia email  Steve on for details.