Gone are the days of posting updates every month. Now aiming for twice a year!
We are still looking for a buyer for the windmill. All we need is someone who likes plants, tranquility, wacky houses, and no electricity bills. There has been some interest but no one has yet been quite right.
Sitting writing this in July I have to think back to the last post in November and what has happened since then. Chiefly some health issues slowed me down from achieving very much, though there have been some successes (as well as some failures) in the garden, I have gapped up the Christmas trees which didn´t make it to their first year, and the fish pond has now had an overhaul.
On the other hand the Passion fruit (Passiflora edulis) which I planted with the hope of it growing over the gate arch has now done exactly that. It has also flowered and maybe we´ll get some fruit in due course. In England there is only one species hardy enough to grow there, Passiflora caerulea, which does not have edible fruit, so this one is very welcome. It is a terrific genus. There are some amazing ornamental tropical passion flowers which I will try growing one day.
This picture was taken in May and the passion flower has put on a lot of growth, and flowers, since then. The blue flowered Duranta (Duranta erecta) on the left has flowered continuously all year. The shelter from the wind afforded by the stone wall makes this part of the garden very successful.
The Bougainvillea growing over our pergola has the loveliest dark purple flowers. I grew it from a cutting which was pinched one dark night with secateurs and a plastic bag from the Elba Golf Course hotel. It would now be about five years old.
Another success would be the Casaurinas planted as windbreaks, though this is not surprising as it is widely planted on Fuerteventura. Casaurina equisetifolia is an Australian native well suited to arid and alkaline conditions. (I seem to be flagging up the successes rather than the failures here, but then I guess the failures are probably now in the compost heap).
Also planted to the north of the finca are some Canary Island palm trees, but these have not done so well and it is interesting to compare these with the now large Phoenix canariensis in the garden. The one on the left was planted as a large specimen tree. Whereas the one on the right, growing in the garden, was originally a one foot high freebie from the Cabildo Department of the Environment.
Another palm tree planted as a large specimen was the Sabal palm (Sabal palmetto). This was planted into a deep hole prepared by the JCB with plenty of compost. It has grown very little in five years, though it is reputedly a slow grower.
The red, white and blue theme in front of the windmill is working quite well. The white flowers are the white Oleander which is growing very strongly. The red colour is from a red Oleander and red Bougainvillea, while the blue flowers are of the Potato Bush (Solanum rantonnetii). In the centre is a Travellers Palm (Ravenala madagascariensis), not a palm as such and related to the Strelitzia Bird of Paradise.
The Travellers Palm flowered in May and it is clear to see that is related to the Strelitzia. Similar flower form, just different colours.
One plant I have been very surprised about has been the Amaryllis. These well known plants are sold as bulbs in England in late summer to flower at Christmas but are more correctly named Hippeastrum. There has been a lot of confusion about the naming of these. Although similar in appearance Amaryllis are from South Africa while Hippeastrum are from South America. Anyway, I bought mine a couple of years ago from Lidl in Puerto and they have been growing in the conservatory as well as outside in the garden. They have bulked up nicely and this year they have all flowered profusely through May and June. I only have the pink flowererd cultivar so early this year I bought a couple more when I saw that Lidl were selling some red flowered plants.
Another plant which has really taken off this year (no, not rocket!) is the Cycad palm, (Cycas revoluta). This is another palm which is not a palm, but is more closely related to a conifer. Cycads have been around for a long time and have the distinction of keeping dinosaurs company some 300 million years ago.
The pine trees have had their best year yet thanks to a liberal dose of NPK fertliser. In fact probably a little too much fertiliser as some of them died when the weather turned warmer. Too much fertiliser, which are salts, dry or burn the roots and when the trees need more water as it gets warm, they suffer physiological drought and can die.
This picture of the second field was taken in May exactly 12 months after planting. Some of the trees are already two feet tall. There was a blaze of colour among the young trees as common poppies (Papaver rhoeas) appeared, germinating from the seed I collected and sowed the year after we arrived.
Here I am in May replacing the dead trees. The replacements were raised from seed sown in January into plastic tubes sealed at one end with drainage holes made using a hole punch.
The fish pond has been looking quite disgusting for some time now. I rather lost interest after the heron made off with all the fish last year.
The first step was to drain the pond which was also an opportunity to ´fertigate´ the nearby plants.
As the water level reduced I fancied I caught a glimpse of flashes of something orange. Could it be a goldfish? In fact it was the three goldfish we thought had been eaten by the heron long ago. They were large, fat and seemingly quite healthy, apparently having survived only on the bugs and vegetation falling into the pond. Was the turtle also there? Unfortunately no, he truly had taken his leave and crawled away, obviously preferring to try out one of the hundreds of natural pools in the nearby countryside....
The water lily was duly rescued and put in a bucket, and the fish put into a larger bucket with an aerator to keep the water fresh.
The next step was to pressure clean the sides and bottom to remove all the gunk. Pongo, as ever, is trying to work out what is going on and whether there might be something edible for him.
Having scrubbed the concrete with mild brick acid I made a little hidey hole for the fish where they could dodge out of the way of the heron. This would also serve as a support for the water lily to bring it closer to the surface where it can receive more sunlight.
When the pool was first built I should have sealed the concrete to prevent lime leaching from the concrete into the water. This can raise the water pH which is harmful to fish and which is probably why many of the original fish died. So I took the opportunity to paint the pond this time with two coats of an acrylic swimming pool paint.
This was all getting to be a lot of work and so we took the next day off and went to the golf driving range with some amigos. For just a few Euros you had a golf club and 50 balls. Wendy enjoyed herself. I thought it was a lot of balls....
Then back to work. It was a hot day and the pond looked so inviting we were thinking seriously of turning it into a plunge pool for ourselves, never mind about goldfish!
One last touch was to put in a short piece of drainpipe as another hidey hole for the fish.
Time to put the fish back into their old home. Pongo has finally realised this could be the edible part of the whole exercise. Come to Daddy....
I have no idea of the sexes of these fish but it was interesting to see that as soon as they were put back into the pond the two large ones immediately started a kind of courtship. Maybe the clear fresh water was making them frisky. If we see some babies - they are heterosexual, if not - we have LGBT goldfish!
The banana is flowering again. Pongo has already seen this and he is keeping an eye on it. Though it will be September before the fruit ripen. He is very much into his fruit. I was wondering why my tomatoes were disappearing from the vegetable garden, until I saw him one day coming out with a guilty look on his face.
And finally the Flamboyant tree (Delonix regia) is flowering. This has to be my favourite tree. The fresh green of the finely divided compound leaves together with the scarlet flowers and beautiful umbrella shape makes it one of the best.