The last few days the weather has been settled; not so windy and quite warm. This is good gardening weather so much time has been spent sourcing and planting plants. The aim has been to concentrate planting to the north, outside the front wall and just inside to create a windbreak. This is a priority to give shelter to other plants elsewhere in the garden to help them cope better in these conditions. The steely grey shrubs growing just outside the fence are Atriplex nummularia which survive hot dry conditions in the Australian outback so they should be OK here. The small tree to the right is an Ombu, Phytolacca dioica, which grows to a very large size though with soft spongy wood. It is found in the Pampas of Argentina and makes a welcome shade tree for the Gauchos.
The plants inside the fence are well protected from the wind and are growing well. There is an Olive tree, Orange, Avocado, a Loquat and various ornamentals. There is a also a Neem tree which has been growing best of all. This will be my future source of insecticide as the fruit and leaves may be pressed or crushed and mixed with water and a little soap to make an effective spray against pests.
Planting here is a lot of work compared to back in England. Apart from digging holes through solid rock, then mixing up a compost/sand/soil planting mix, then staking them against the wind, I have also had to set up irrigation for them consisting of a few hundred metres of irrigation pipe, connectors, taps and drippers.
We have had stone walls built on either side of the house. This immediately gives a bit of rustic character making the windmill look older, and also creating more of a windbreak. We have had a group of Morrocans here doing the work. It has been built with lots of little stones making some nice detailing. However these guys have been a proverbial pain in the ...! They have been helping themselves to anything lying around so that I have had to keep a constant watch on them. One of them suggested I might like to go down to the village and buy him a packet of cigarettes! Bloody cheek.
This will make a nice area for planting tender species. A barbeque will go in the corner of the patio. Rather a lot of unused rocks to clear up first...
The other side has turned out nicely. It would be nice to finish it with an arch. I asked them to leave planting pockets on the tops of the walls for drought resistant plants to cascade down.
We have also made progress with our pergola. This was needed to create a shaded outside sitting area and also to break up the straight line of the conservatory. To grow up and over the beams I have planted a purple Bougainvillea on one side and a Passion fruit on the other side. Pepe the carpenter made a good job of it and it looks just right.
Our hammock from Oaxaca has found its way here. The very comfortable teak chairs we found in a local shop, and the table which was lying around in the finca David sanded down and treated with teak oil.
I like nothing better than to upcycle old furniture which other people might consign to the rubbish dump. We had two wooden benches in the conservatory which we thought would look nice outside in the right place. The cushions had to be thrown out but I made a solid base with tongue and groove timber and David sanded them down and painted them a matt white. We are now looking for suitable filling to make large colourful cushions for them.
Now let me introduce you to Ellie.
She was four, now five weeks old. Nearly as long as my foot. Very vociferous and extremely confident for something so absolutely tiny.
Goofy and Pongo are extremely curious. It seems that Goofy is more genuinely interested in her and likes to nose her around and lick her. Pongo is interested but possibly more in gauging its nutritional value. But then food is really Pongo's only interest in life.
As I write this she is lying on the top of the back of the sofa in the conservatory in an all commanding position. Incidentally we called her Ellie because ella is Spanish for her, and then we thought Ellie is nicer.