Thursday, December 25, 2014

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - Dec. 2014

Here are some of the photos I took on the 15th. This is how my garden is looking in December. After a very wet November, the grass looked straggly. Sometimes you just have to let the professionals take over. I saw the gardener working across the road and invited him to come over and do his stuff. 

lavender and red roses
He cut back the creeping rosemary quite drastically and some lavenders too but I asked him not to touch this one.
red roses and lavender
If I'd had time, I'd have deadheaded all the roses and maybe I would have more looking like this...
pretty unusual rose
... or like this....
The aloe arborescens has flowered!
aloe arborescens

My enormous orange tree has lots of sweet, juicy oranges.
orange tree in background
My first orchids of the season.
orchids from Madeira

My other orchids were under the orange tree, which isn't the best place to be when oranges start falling to the ground. Well, trying to move them to the verandah, I managed to break two of their fragile stems - the oranges didn't get them but I unfortunately did. Clumsy!

And that's all from my Algarve garden. Merry Christmas!

Monday, November 24, 2014

My gingerbread man

Yesterday I went to a Christmas fair in Lagoa. 

It was supposed to be a quick, low-budget visit. Then I saw the writer of this Gardening magazine and had to buy a copy, Then I saw the Christmas crackers and decided to buy some to take into my English classes and then I fell in love with the gingerbread man! He came from a Canadian lady's stall, where everything smelled scrumptious! I had forgotten to take my camera so gingerbread man survived until after the photo was taken...

The fair was held at the former Lagoa Winery, now turned into an Art Gallery. About that all I can say is "Wow!"

If you are in the Algarve, go and see for yourself.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - November 2014

On the 15th of every month garden bloggers from all over the world show off their blooms in a post and link up with May Dreams Gardens

So welcome to my garden in the central Algarve region of Portugal! It's in hardiness zone10a.

I've been having trouble keeping on top of everything.
wilting roses
In the rose bed, the last of the blooms, some ground covers and weeds.
Other activities and lack of "gardening weather" explain why I've posted a day late a few times. 
There is another reason this month, though. It rained off and on for a few weeks and the grass kept growing until I figured I should call in the professionals, i.e. the gardener. I thought  my little old lawnmower and I weren't up to the job. As it turned out I was wrong. 
Yesterday the gardener didn't show, I became really upset thinking how the photos would look, decided to try doing the job myself (had a difficult night as a result of my allergic rhinitis), the lawnmower cooperated and the grass got cut! However, by the time I finished it was too late to take photos.

There isn't much blooming at the moment.

Along the side wall there are some red and yellow hibiscus blooms.
Yellow hibiscus and red hibiscus

One lavender is in serious need of being cut back but this one is still going strong.
I love lavender

And some foliage is as good as having blooms, don't you think?.
gorgeous foliage

Looking forward to seeing you again next month.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Mediterranean Garden Fair 2014

Like I told you here, last year I discovered the Mediterranean Garden Society had an active branch in Portugal and I loved their Garden Fair. I was determined not to miss this year's event but on Saturday I had a dog training session booked before lunch and I didn't want to miss that either. As a result, my day turned out a bit too crammed with activity and I eventually arrived at the fair just an hour before it was supposed to wind down!
Mediterranean Garden Fair 1
Mediterranean Garden Fair 2

 I missed the workshops, which was very disappointing. And the plant sellers had sold much of their stock - good for them!
Mediterranean Garden Fair 3

Mediterranean Garden Fair 4

I'm still glad I went as I had the opportunity to chat to some sellers and even buy some Myrtle (Myrtus communis) seeds "harvested in the Mediterranean woods of central Portugal" from Sementes de Portugal.

I also had a wonderful time wandering around the Estói Palace grounds, where the fair took place.
Estói Palace grounds, Algarve
Algarve -Estoi Palace Gardens

Hopefully, next time I'll be able to attend the workshops and perhaps even meet some local bloggers.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - October 2014

Welcome again to my Algarve garden!

This year the autumn rain came early and temperatures dropped but not enough to stop the grass growing. As a result, my garden looks a bit out of control. 
edge of rose garden
The roses are straggly but in this end of the bed the colour combination pleases me. It wasn't something that I planned but I like it.

lavenders and red roses
At least one lavender needs cutting back.

My bougainvillea is looking quite sad.

autumn rose
You can still find a rose bloom here...
white rose
... and here.

flowers along the wall
There are also some iceberg roses by the side wall over there.

I took the photos on the 16th because work and rain got in the way on Bloom Day. Today I cut the grass so now the garden looks a bit tidier. Next, I need to plant bulbs!

For more October blooms, visit May Dreams Gardens. You won't be disappointed!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Are you blowing your whistle at me?!

There I was, calmly driving to school on Friday morning. 

I was in good time so when I saw police cars at the roundabout I wasn't particularly worried. I've had to stop dozens of times to show my documents and have the car inspected. I usually have everything in order.

There were two police cars on the left and two on the right. One poor driver had been pulled over on the right and was out of his car (never a good sign), probably paying a fine for something. The policeman with him was busy, so I thought I was safe. I turned my attention to getting the new way of navigating a roundabout done properly and was half way through that when I heard police whistles blowing furiously and the policemen on the left pointing menacingly ... at me? I couldn't believe my eyes!

I managed to pull over already out of the roundabout, my nerves shattered. When a policeman reached me, I kept repeating "What did I do wrong?" He said I didn't stop promptly enough. Heck! I wasn't expecting the ones on the left to even think of pulling me over. They were on the other side. To be safe, they should have been only stopping cars going in the opposite direction, for heaven's sake!

So I showed my documents, saying I was going to miss my first class of the day. The policeman smiled. He thought I was pretending to be a teacher!  Then he inspected the car and looked over at his whistle-mad colleagues. I wondered what exactly they were going to fine me for. I had pulled over safely albeit too slowly for them, they weren't complaining about my navigation of a roundabout (even though I don't think I've quite got the hang of it), so what was it going to be?

Oops! My windshield had a crack - a very small crack - a crack that is almost as old as the car - a crack that has never been a problem before! 

I was let off with a warning: they were going to be at that roundabout for several days and if I was stopped again, a fine it would be. I drove off in a daze, still unsure if a fine wouldn't find its way into my mailbox. 

My car has now got a new windscreen but I can't get that treated-almost-like-a-criminal scene out of my head. Is it any surprise that people don't like the traffic police here?

Mind you, I have seen worse - an adult student of mine once overtook me and the road-hogging police car in front of me only to be treated to a siren-screaming car chase into a sleepy Algarve town!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - September 2014

As I was leaving school this afternoon, someone joked about not needing to travel to the Tropics to experience tropical weather and she was spot on. It was hot and sultry. The tarmac had that smell that comes after a summer downpour. It took me back to Africa instantly.

The weather today made it a bit difficult for me to get the photos the way I wanted them. It was too grey before I left for school and not light enough when I remembered I hadn't got the shots I wanted yet.

Anyway, welcome to my Algarve garden again. I've dead-headed the roses, so no flowers from them at this time. The lavenders are still doing well. They get the attention of neighbours and passers-by.
View from the drive

This is how the far end of the garden looked when I got back from holiday a few weeks ago. It was getting a bit too carried away so I had to do some pruning before the mock rose bush turned into a tree.
Far end of the garden
The pink oleander flowered profusely this summer but is tired now, so it's up to the red one, which blooms later.
red oleander blooms
 These flowers are new to my garden.
New additions

The yellow and red hibiscus are in flower but insects have damaged the blooms so  I only have one good flower to show you today.

Then there are the Mirabilis jalapa or four o'clocks. I wanted some with yellow blooms, stole some plants from a hedge somewhere but ended up with purple and white blooms instead. My neighbour has some that present different coloured blooms on the same plant (apparently that's not uncommon). I'm not complaining. Next year I want to have more by the front wall, too, where they can release their scent to the garden and the street.

To scent the garden in the evening I also have this!
Dama da noite

The Belladonna lilies are no longer looking so fresh. This photo is also from when I returned from holiday.
Belladonna lilies

And that's it, folks. Don't forget to visit May Dreams Gardens, where Carol hosts Bloom Day and where you'll find links to beautiful gardens all over the world.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - August 2014

Today I cannot give you an update on my Algarve garden because I'm spending a few days in the north of Portugal, where I used to live. Hopefully my very helpful neighbour has been keeping my garden watered and I will have blooms to photograph when I get back.

In the meantime, here are some of the blooms in my old garden.
I have tried to take some of these south but they got lost somehow. I'll try again.

In the north we managed to multiply this hydrangea many times without any problems but my two attempts at moving fully-rooted plants south have failed. I'm not giving up yet!

Given enough space, this bougainvillea could be a tree like the one we had in Salisbury, many years ago.

Bottle brush
The unusually wet weather this spring and summer has been good to my bottle brush, which is in a very dry and windy part of the garden.

These blooms are not fully open, because they are getting too much shade. The plants I took south were looking much prettier last week but, oops, I was too busy to take photos. 

I have to downsize so this house and garden will become just a memory soon.

I hope you will visit again in a couple of weeks when I post again from the Algarve.

Meanwhile, why not pop over to May Dreams Gardens, where Bloom Day is hosted every month.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Botox with a sting

... About 5 hours later I looked in the mirror. There was no pain and the dark circle under my left eye had disappeared. Hmmm... interesting. This looked like I had had a botox jab and someone had forgotten to do both sides of my face. I decided against putting in my contacts and tried my glasses. Great! The lack of symmetry was hardly noticeable.

Five hours before, I had been training my dogs to stay close to my heels and had walked through the garden and under the orange tree. Suddenly, something was crawling over my face! I tried to brush it away, losing my hat in the process. The little beast got behind my glasses and I yelped in pain. Then it was all over and I realised I had been stung on my left eye-lid! I don't think it was a bee because there was no stinger left behind. I got an ice-cube on it and surveyed my face in the mirror. The pain was bad but fortunately I'm not allergic! There was some swelling and then a little numbness but no real harm done. On the plus side, I got to see what botox might do around my eyes.

Sunday, July 27, 2014


blue love bird
Some fly by, some stay for a few minutes and some don't want to leave. This beautiful creature stayed long enough for me to get my camera and take a photo, before flying back next door.

baby swallows in nest

These babies were born here. Some years ago their nest was built over the door to the first floor flat and I thought it was cute. Since then it has been used each spring but this year swallows came back in July and are in no hurry to leave - not so cute because I have to clean the mess daily. You see, I also have human visitors who use the door below the nest all the time...

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - July 2014

Hello there and welcome! Mid-July feels even hotter than mid-June and blooms don't last very long in my Algarve garden, but here are some of my best.
red hibiscus
The red hibiscus has suddenly burst into colour. The blooms are a darker red than they appear in the photos and they are larger than last year. The yellow shrub is only starting to bloom now but should go on well into autumn.
yellow hibiscus bloom

My favourite lavender is enormous! A friend fell in love with it during a recent visit and will be getting one of its babies soon.
my favourite lavender

Below is the view from the other side. On the right you can see a little bit of that lavender, The two rose bushes that I had to move because they were getting overcrowded by the lavenders seem to have tolerated the move very well. There is still a bit of soil that I am watching closely. Will the gardener be right? Will the grass grow back? Did my smothering method of killing grass turn out to be successful? Time will tell...
where there was grass...

As you open the gate, it brushes against the overgrown lavender and you are greeted with its scent - lovely! If you look right, this is the view you get: lavenders, rosemary, the oleander, and against the wall the hibiscus, mock orange foliage, some white roses and the neighbour's creeper.
garden long view

I didn't think my lilies would open in time for this post, but they did.

Some of my roses are blooming again, others will be some time soon and this one is the best-looking one right now.
In this heat, my hardest job is giving the plants the amount of water they need to stay happy. 

Now I'm off to link to May Dreams Gardens, where Bloom Day began. How is your garden doing?

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Not the Tour de France

Police sirens wailing, making our cars pull over, is a VIP going to the beach on a cloudy day?
No, it's a local cycling event! Our very own "tour".
Just time to pull out the camera and take a hurried photo of some of the cyclists.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Not quite in holiday mode

School has finally broken up for the summer holidays and I'm not working on a tight schedule any more - just writing reports, helping students who have exams and invigilating exams when necessary. Some days I can stay home all day but I'm finding it hard to catch up on the many tasks on my to-do list. Inertia has set in and I can lie on the sofa for hours napping. Whenever I feel guilty about not being productive, I remind myself that I need time to recover from the end of school year stress...

I welcome just about any excuse to put off the jobs that don't appeal to me. On Friday a friend who I hadn't seen in almost a year turned up at my gate, so we had a long chat, a few laughs and went for some retail therapy. Nothing got done, but I had a fun afternoon!

Border collie cross?
"Take Pandora to obedience classes" is one of the more pleasant tasks on my to-do list.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - June 2014

Boy was it hot today (or should I say yesterday)!
It's past midnight and there is a heady scent in my cooler moonlit garden.

It's quite pleasant now but during the day there was a lot of wilting going on.
rose bed
This is the most colourful part of the garden at the moment, but the red roses on the left can't take this heat, even though I put up an umbrella over them. And my feathery lavender has died (it's a good thing I took some cuttings before its demise!).

potting up petunias
I love petunias, so I potted up 6 yesterday. Here you can see 2 of them. The problem is I have to keep moving them into the shade or this heat will destroy all my hard work!

I think the only flowers that are quite happy are the agapanthus. This is the first time I have some blue blooms from plants that I brought down from my parents' garden. The oleanders are starting to bloom, too, but some blooms look small and withered already.


One of these lavenders doesn't look too happy.

The other one was having a bee and butterfly love-in this morning.
Attracting wildlife

And behind this lavender is the new bed, almost ready for planting. I smothered the grass in autumn and waited, and waited, and grew impatient, and frustrated when the gardener said it wouldn't work. Finally, I removed the black plastic and some remaining cardboard this week. It didn't look too bad. Now I'm just waiting to see if grass will start growing again - I hope not. Only when I'm sure it's OK will I start planting here.

They say temperatures will drop 10 degrees Celsius in the coming week. I can't wait!

Soon I'll visit May Dreams Gardens, where Carole hosts Bloom Day and look around mainly cooler gardens in other regions. Why don't you join me?

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