Having introduced the subject of pruning trees and shrubs last week I want to mention one bush that under no circumstances must it be cut back just yet and that is the Rose. We frequently refer to the differences in gardening between the Mediterranean climate and the North where at this time of year winter has almost set in, whilst we here have just been enjoying a really lovely ‘Indian summer’ with, although much shorter days at least temperatures that invite one to spend time in the garden.
So back to the roses. Although the rose bushes may not have quite so many blooms there seem to be a continual few to keep cutting to decorate the dining room table even if we are still enjoying meals on the terrace, there are flowers indoors to enjoy during the evenings. Most roses continue to flower until Christmas time so don’t be tempted to cut them back just yet. Don’t worry, we will be reminded before the time is right to get that job done in the garden in the New year.
If you are really desperate to get the pruning shears out and start cutting something back, take a look at the geraniums. They are not exactly a bush or shrub but can run away with themselves if they are growing in the ideal situation and over the summer months may well have grown taller and worst of all, may well have attracted that awful pest, the little grey butterfly.
Those affected by this pest will probably have lots of brown and dead stalk ends coming from the holes where the larvae have burrowed into them. There is no other remedy but to radically cut back to below where the dried and dead stems are. Sometimes it is very hard to make oneself cut plants back but this is one that must go. Cut back to the next healthy leaf joint and you will save the plant from wilting back altogether. Whilst cutting back there will be several quite healthy stems that could be cut off and planted.
This is one of the most easy plants to propagate from a simple cutting so trim off all the damaged rubbish and plant the rest, you may well surprise yourself as to how many actually form roots and a new plant for yourself.
My original Geranium was brought to me by a neighbouring shepherd who had his flock back in those days, openly grazing on any open pasture land. He found these Geraniums in a garden that he liked the look of, miles away from my just reclaimed land and newly built house so snipped off a few cuttings and planted them in my garden, that was well over 45 years ago and any Geraniums in my garden all stem from those first few stolen cuttings.
There is a local saying that tells one ‘if a snippet is taken from a plant without telling the owner it will surely take root so long as you don’t tell that owner’. That doesn’t mean we must all turn into plant thieves but it is fun to aquire something for nothing!!!
It is still time to plant spring flowering bulbs and of those left in the garden from one year to the next you may well find fresia and iris already well advanced as well as newly planted hyacinths just showing their green tips.
Daffodils seem to come just a little later. The other more exotic lilies and the like could well be considered late spring or summer flowering bulbs so will not be showing new growth yet, in fact it is better to allow them to dry out and allow all last years leaf to die back if you want to grow those bulbs again next season.
A lot of bulbs can of course be considered for growing on terraces and balconies in pots.
Quite small sacks of compost can be bought from supermarket gardening sections at a reasonable price so repot bulbs in fresh soil, stand the pots on drainage plates but don’t allow the water to just stand there to attract the mosquitoes.
Another collection of plants for the terrace in pots are the herbs for the kitchen. You might just still have a healthy basil, it really is only an annual but by carefully cutting off some of the larger leaves and not allowing the plant to grow flowering tips will keep the whole plant growing for ages.
There is nothing more fragrant that sweet basil amongst salad leaves, sprinkled on tomatoes or pasta so keep that alive just as long as possible with frequent watering and full sunshine.
Sage grows well in a pot to be later cut and dried to add to those sausage rolls, mint for lamb chops and rosemary to put inthe roasting pan with the leg of lamb, oh the choice is endless so keep those potted herbs going both as decoration and of use in the kitchen. I must admit I am still encouraging those who want, to plant up a few spring vegetables, bearing in mind the orientation of the gaden for sunshine and harsh winter winds but even with that in mind it is still ‘all year round’ gardening in Majorca .