Osteospermum. | Dorothy Loeffler


Time and again we refer to the differences between gardening in Mallorca and that of gardening in northern climates. Probably our worst enemy here in the Mediterranean is the harsh gale force winds that blow up from time to time. When a beautiful warm sunny patch follows we all look to see what destruction these awful windy periods have done by breaking and uprooting trees and who knows what else. Then there is that big ‘BUT’ but just walk around the garden and there it is still full of colour even at this late date, well into winter.

Here are just a few that were not completely battered by the wind. The wonderful down-hanging bells of Frosty Dawn of the Datura family. This must surely be one of the easier shrubs to take a cutting from and encourage a new one to grow. There are those gardeners who prefer the jar of water to put the cuttings in until some little root growth is obvious, there are others who just simply dib a few cuttings well into the soil, be it pot or garden and one or other of them will start to grow showing that it has taken root. Others of the same Datura family are all showing buds with their flowers pointing upwards like a trumpet.

Although I have mentioned pruning the Bougainvillea or sweeping up the hundreds of coloured bracts, those that survived the wind will be yet another of those colourful corners to find in the garden. Along with this long trailing growth we can compete with the clusters of Bignonia blooms. Here again we have a climbing shrub which will put down roots just where ever it trails on the ground and when it finds its way along a fence or over the pergola there is no telling where it will end but always with those lovely colourful bunches of pink flowers still in full bloom now, mid December.

Not to be outdone by the trees and shrubs there is always the humble Geranium, surely this should be considered as Spain’s national flower. It really is a hardy plant surviving everything except the wretched little grey butterfly that lays its eggs in the leaf joints with the larvae burrowing into the stem.

One just has to ruthlessley cut out the effected stems. Here again we have a plant that takes root easily from a simple cutting and the original plant will go on for ever. All my red Geraniums originated from a cutting more than 45 years ago, any bit that gets broken off is just popped into the ground and there it grows, even now in mid winter to add that bit of colour.

Osteospernums more often referred to as ‘African Daisy’ or ‘Black Eyed Susan’ because the white variety frequently has a very dark navy blue centre. There are several colours that all do well here and are in flower nearly all year round, even now in mid winter, there are mauves, pink, cream and yellow besides the already mentioned white.

This is wonderful ground cover and extends all over the place, will take root from cuttings and when the long stems are cut back by half all the new little leaves will fill out, so if you don’t want to scrub it out, there you can keep it for ever even in mid winter.

My last flowering tree for today is the Callistemon or easier to remember, Bottle Brush, so named because its flower spikes look just like a bottle brush.

This wonderful shrub or tree encourages all the bees in the garden and, here again we find it in flower in mid winter. This is yet another tree that needs to be pruned back really hard if you want to keep it in shape otherwise it just takes over.

Gardening in Majorca just never ends.