Sunny Winter Sky

  This may not be your idea of a botanical garden but it is one of my favorites. It is a shot of a rather bare spot in the garden in Rodalquilar in the province of Andalucia in Southern Spain. This pomegranate tree had only a few fruits left and those had been ravaged by the wild birds who live here. It was quiet, sunny and cool in the garden today. We were the only visitors, in fact! A kind attendant told us that the staff had been obliged to chip in to repair the tiller. Seems the Spanish burocracy is so dense that it just seemed easier to make a personal sacrifice than to wrestle with various levels of government. Contacts in the renown Kew Gardens of London are very interested in this unique garden which features native plants from the semi-desert environment. Their offer to translate all the information  panels lies mouldering  on the desk of a fonctionaire somewhere in the maze of Spanish offices that approve such projects. 
On a happier note, today in the garden we saw many happy insects, bees among them ravishing some lovely yellow flowers. Young olive trees nodded benignly at us, knowing they would outlive us by a century or so. On a neighbouring hill we could see the deserted gold mine. Rodalquilar is no longer a mining village but a haven for artists and writers. It is almost time for almonds trees to bloom and I am sure such a sight is more inspiring than any gold mine. 

Protecting things


I have a unique flower that will soon bloom. I have owned this plant for many years and it’s the sort of plant that couldn’t stand even one day of freezing weather. That means it spends most of its life in my laundry room languishing sadly for months and months. It has bloomed a few times but many summers go by without any flowers at all. I bought the cutting at the wonderful plant fair of the Montreal Botanical Gardens and I remember being scandalized at paying eight dollars for what looked like an ordinary length of sugar cane. My hope and ambition to own this exotic plant overcame good sense and for weeks I watched nothing happen to “my stick” as it sulked in a pot of sand. I was with another fanatical gardener that day who also bought a cutting and we were given strict instructions to be patient and to believe….evangelical gardening. My plant looks terrible in the winter. All the leaves fall off and I wonder how it can survive. It does and as you can see buds are ready to open.

Little birds, flocks of sparrows have taken to attacking my grapes lately and to my horror I found that two flower buds had been nipped off as well. I remembered a funny item I boughht on my last trip to Mexico. It’s a sort of net weighted down with miniature clay jugs around the edge. As soon as I saw it I knew I wanted it. It was just like the little protectors we had when I was a little girl in Wales. My mother would arrange such a little veils over the milk jug or the sugar basin to stop flies getting in. Ours just had beads around the edge. An unlikely item to have hanging about but because of my nostalgia I just happened to have one. I’m pretty sure the rest of the buds are safe now. Sun can still come in but they’d better hurry up as the days are getting shorter. School has started up and leaves are yellowing and starting to fall.

Everything changes and slips away. Is it foolish to hope that the frangipani plant will bloom this year? Is it foolish to try to protect the buds that are still twisted closed? Will they unfurl into the flat white flower with the golden heart at the centre and the maddeningly sweet perfume? Let the good weather hold a little longer and we will see.