Tag Archives: gardening

Oleanders, joyous and life-affirming

Vincent van Gogh famously painted sunflowers during his time at Arles in France. But he also painted oleanders. He reportedly found them ‘joyous’ and ‘life-affirming’ because of their inexhaustible blooms and vigour. I know what he means

Oleanders by Vincent Van Gogh [photo: Wikipedia]

Our oleanders continue to flower from spring through autumn, in a mixture of red, pink and white. Now taller than me, oleanders can grow up to 6m tall. On our terraces, they mix with climbing roses, ivy and tall grasses. No sooner have the petals started to shrivel on one plant, than buds form on another. Even the dead flower bracts have appeal.

Oleander is a famously toxic garden plant, though huge quantities have to be consumed. Birds are thought to be immune; a fact that our sparrows and blackbirds can confirm as they regularly seek the shade of the oleanders on summer days.

5 to remember
jubiloso – joyous
marchitarse – to shrivel
una bráctea de flores– a flower bract
tóxico – toxic
un hecho que– a fact that

 

If you’d like to read more about Vincent van Gogh in Arles, the sunflowers and the oleanders, read ‘The Yellow House’ by Martin Gayford [UK: Penguin]

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Oleanders, always flowering, always a new season in #Spain #gardening https://wp.me/p3dYp6-2pu via @Spanish_Valley 

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Fifty Shades of Blue #27

Red buds of adelfa or oleander, against a pure blue sky. April 20, 2015

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Red buds against a pure blue sky #Gardening in #Andalucia via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-2bL

Our summer garden

We don’t have a garden here, not in terms of a ‘front’ garden and ‘back’ garden as we were used to in England. No lawn to mow, no bulbs to plant or perennials to divide in spring. Instead, the valley is our garden. The trees are our framework – walnut, poplar, plum, acacia, almond. So our garden is an easy-care space, with a few nuggets of space which we fill with favourite plants. Lavender, roses, rosemary, oleanders and callistemon all love the heat. And now, everything is approaching its best as spring turns into summer and the thermometer heads for +30°C.

5 to remember
no tenemos – we don’t have
el césped – the lawn
las plantas perennes – the perennial plants
una pepita – a nugget
el termómetro – the thermometer

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Our #garden in summer #secretvalley #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-22e

Merendera

This is a new wildflower for me, I’ve never noticed it before: are the conditions this year most suitable for it? merendera1 23-3-16It is Merendera Montana, growing as a scattered carpet of white flowers. The leaves come later. Each flower is star-shaped with six petals. According to my flower book, the petals are pale lilac but ours here are white. Common throughout Iberia in rocky areas, sparse grass and mountain pastures: sounds just like our valley, then. I found these in a rocky spot beside our track where it winds through the olive grove.

5 to remember
las condiciones – the conditions
dispersado/a – scattered
una alfombra – a carpet
en forma de estrella – star-shaped
los pétalos – the petals

‘Common Wildflowers of Spain’ by Austen Colwell [UK: Santana]

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Pretty white star-shaped #wildflower: Merendera in #Spain via @Spanish_Valley http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1Jd

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Pollen happy

The terrace is alive to the bee-buzz. We’re watching these bees happily foraging around flowers, searching for food and unknowingly carrying pollen around and germinating plants. They pass on the male gametes, the sperm cells, onto the waiting stamens and eso es, it is as simple as that. Fertilization. No dating, or courting, as my mother would have said. Just a bit of buzzing around, sometimes it happens on the same flower, which seems a bit incestuous.

5 to remember
el polen – the pollen
la polinización – the pollination
sin saberlo – unknowingly
eso es– that’s it
incestuoso/a – incestuous

 

Concise Insect Guide’ [UK: Bloomsbury]

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
The terrace is alive to the bee-buzz #Bees in #Spain http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1L5 via @Spanish_Valley

Berry heavy

The berries are food for birds and insects… the flowers attract bees and butterflies. For blackbirds and thrushes, the berries of the Cotoneaster are favourite. I am used to the red and orange-berried Cotoneasters, I didn’t know that the berries also come as pink, maroon and even black. Depending on the hunger and eagerness of the local bird population, some berries can stay on the branch until the following year. We have plenty to go around.

5 to remember
las bayas – the berries
estoy acostumbrada a – I am used to
granate – maroon
aún – even/yet/still
el afán de – the eagerness of

 

Your Garden in Spain’ by Clodagh & Dick Handscombe [UK: Santana]

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
The berries are food for birds & insects… the flowers attract bees & butterflies #Spain http://wp.me/p3dYp6-1HH via @Spanish_Valley

Wildflowers/pink

Anyone who knows me is aware that pink is not my favourite colour, I go out of my way to avoid it. But there is one exception, and that is the wildflowers that grow here. The faintest blush pink, almost white, are my favourites. Some I know: ground ivy, herb rocket and tufted vetch, others are a mystery but a welcome sight in spring.

5 to remember
nadie – anyone
una excepción – one exception
rubor rosa – blush pink
ligero – faintest
un espectáculo de bienvenida – a welcome sight