I guess we all like it when we know we have done a good job on something, and that's how Chris and I felt after a hard afternoon's graft in the garden. It started when we went to Turre this morning and popped into a ferriteria (Spains answer to Wilkinsons). There Chris happened to notice, and buy, the kind of tool he had been looking for to dig up the very hard ground just beyond our back fence. I have mentioned before that we own the first couple of feet of land passed our back fence, and we want to plant a deep red bourganvillea there, to climb along the fence, and maybe something else pretty too, though I have my eye on one small plot to try some runner beans next year. I have been told they will grow here but you have to plant them in January and harvest around April as it is too hot for them in the summer. I don't like any of the gereen beans they grow here. Anyway, the ground in question was covered in dry grass and weeds, with a few plants growing through it. So after lunch, Chris set to and cleared and dug up a piece about a meter and a half long and a couple of feet wide. You'll see he has more clothes on than usual. This was essential as he was working up to the oleander which has poisonous sap that causes an irritation if you touch it, and the very prickly aloe vera plants that the previous owners put in as a deterrent to intruders. We could clear the bit we wanted without cutting any of them down so that was good. Now we have to get to a garden centre and buy some plants. I wasn't much help with that except to keep emptying the bin into the big rubbish container just outside our gate.
Next we turned our attention to the little square of garden at the front. What I had thought was plumbago, and I now know is pink jasmine, has been beautiful for ages, but most of the flowers have gone now, and the plant was much too big. The wind catches it and blows it off the wall, and it's trellis was bowed and in danger of breaking, so I got the shears and was really ruthless with it. I just hope I haven't killed it. It looks a bit sad now, but I gave it a good soak tonight so hopefully it will perk up a bit by morning. I also cut back the lovely ivy that had formed a big mound in a circle where it is planted around some rocks. I loved it as it was, but it had grown a lot since we moved in and was trying to swamp the roses, so it needed a good haircut. There was an aweful lot of debris to get rid of, but the bin outside is very useful. We can put anything in it and it is emptied every night (at around 1.00 a.m.!!) While I was doing all of this, Chris removed all the big pebbles from the centre of the ivy circle and sawed down the dead orange tree that grew there. Unfortunately the man who used to live here, used the wrong spray when it was a bit deseased, and he killed it. We wanted to dig it out and replace it, but we realised that this just wasn't possible. We are still going to try to plant a new one next to the stump, but it depends how many roots it has; it was a mature tree; and whether we can dig a big enough planting hole. So all in all it was a good afternoons work. I went straight into the pool to cool down when I had finished, and then had a shower and drank a gallon of water. It's hard work doing anything like that in the heat. The water in the pool is 26º this week, so the air is considerably higher.
One other thing that pleases us in the garden is a bottle brush tree. Just at the side of the drive into the garage we have three trees in pots. The first one had pretty blossom for a couple of weeks but that was it. The second one I am sure was covered in apple blossom, and although most of it just dried up and fell, it has set about five fruits. Whether these will survive in the heat I don't know, but I am misting them regularly and watering the pot each day. I was almost sure the third tree was a bottle brush tree as I had one in my porch at Ardways, though it didn't survive the winter. This looked more dead than alive, with a lot of brown leaves and empty branches. I saw some of these trees in flower in some of the municipal garden areas last month, and ours still looked pretty poor, so I thought it may just be passed its best. However, last week we noticed that the dead-looking buds at the ends of the branches were beginning to lengthen out and showed signes of red, and sure enough, today we have several brushes out. This is similar to our other red 'fluffy' bush, but that one has the hairs in bunches, whereas the bottle brush tree has them sticking straight out all around the branch. Anyone who has had to wash out a baby's feeding bottle will know exactly how this plant got its name. Now I know it is still 'alive and kicking' I shall remove the brown leaves and branches from the centre of the tree and give it a bit of TLC. Maybe it will catch up and bloom at the right time next year.