Last week we spoke of trees and I would like to continue with that same subject this week. Trees are an important part of a garden and terrace. A great deal of course depends on the space one has. There are the fruit trees that really need to be looked after and pruned in their right season to encourage more and larger fruit. Ornamental trees can be either flowering trees or some of the more robust trees that grow naturally all across the island. These latter trees will of course need much more space and only fit into the larger plot of ground but still they can look nice if planted in the right place. There are very few really colourful deciduous trees with autumn colours as can be found on the mainland of Spain or in more northern climates. The mild winter climate with very few hard frosty days does not help the leaf falling and often you will find the deciduous trees are already in bud whilst the last year’s leaves are brown and dried. That does not mean to say that a weeping willow for example won't thrive here. I have two in my garden. One grown from a simple branch stuck into the ground, which is now in the middle of a lawn and gives wonderful shade in the height of the summer months. The second tree is simply a branch from the original a few years later and that also provides shade. This willow has attracted the mushroom spore and frequently has a lovely crop of mushrooms growing out of the bark on the trunk. You will need a fairly big garden for a weeping willow.
Of the evergreens there are quite few that do well, cypress trees are amongst the most common, there are several varieties that we refer to under this common name. They grow very tall and have different types of small fir cone and frequently used as a hedging being planted along a perimeter wall and kept cut to the height required. They do respond to frequent trimming making a really neat hedge. In the country, especially in the north of the island some farmers will grow a really long row of these tall evergreens as windbreaks from the strong salt laden winter winds especially if they want to protect orange and lemon trees from these northerly winds. In fact, to refer back to these citrus fruit trees I was warned by a friendly neighbour when I first started gardening in Majorca all those years ago, that I would never successfully grow citrus fruit trees if I couldn't provide them with sufficient shelter from the wind. A high cypress tree hedge, a high wall at least six feet high or a south facing aspect of the house. So back to the cypress, in a normal garden it can be planted in an unobtrusive corner and left to grow as it pleases or if on a patio can be cut into shape and left lower with more dense growing, pine like leaves but entails clipping back regularly. This is one tree that frequently has seedlings spring up nearby where the cones have shed their seeds. These tiny saplings when gently pulled up will withstand potting up and there you have your new trees. I have several in pots just waiting to be planted somewhere.
Another self-seeded tree in my garden is an olive tree, another evergreen. I have no idea where the first one blew in from. I kept that cut into shape for many years then it got forgotten and left to its own and provided shade in a corner but no real olives for making olive oil, that tree will need to be grafted if we want real olives. A wild olive tree has very small olives of no use to anyone but the birds, at least we look after nature but these small olives self-seed in every corner of the garden now so need to be pulled up. It’s still nice to have another variety of tree.
A recent addition, again I have no idea where from because I have not seen one in the vicinity, is the holm oak otherwise known as the holly oak and in Spanish the encina, a tree that provides the farmers with acorns in the pig farming regions. No, I have no pigs nor any such farm nearby but a tiny holm oak has found its way in. Again, we are referring to an evergreen, which can grow to oak tree proportions so I had better watch out. Known as the holly oak because its evergreen leaves are just like small prickly and shiny holly leaves.
Palm trees will grow in any garden and for a certain number of years will do well in a pot on a terrace. They are very much a Mediterranean tree that will eventually grow into that tall graceful tree often found on the seafront walks but looks just as good in a garden. This is another tree that has to be looked after as it begins to form the palm fronds and has lethal spikes along the base of each frond. No matter how careful you are attempting to prune back these fronds a spike will nearly always come out and stab you, also stab wounds can very easily infect so be careful. Once that is overcome, a palm tree is a lovely addition to a garden.
There are several well-known varieties, the date palm, the washingtonian and many others. Unfortunately some of these palms have been infected by the red beetle plague that will kill the tree in just a few months so watch out for that, over the past few years a great deal has been written about that infestation which is said to have come from Morocco or even further away.
This is only the tip of the subject of trees in one’s garden and in pots on the terrace. They are all part of a natural garden that invites the birds in and gives us shade in the summer; surely, a garden isn't complete without a few trees.