by Dick Handscombe, holistic gardener and author living in Spain for over 25 years

This summer has been unique in that if a storm or gota fria did not arrive during the last weeks of August we are entering September with no, or well below normal, rainfalls for a year, not knowing whether the record drought will break in September, October or even November – which did happen about twelve years ago when we had three weeks of rain in November.

So, since it is still too hot to do any heavy work or plant things new, this is a good time to evaluate your garden in terms of how it has weathered the drought.

To save time, do this objectively by deciding on the most important points for your mature, maturing or new areas of the garden. The format that follows would help tremendously:

Having completed the analysis, consider the following questions:

  1. Which of the strengths could we replicate in other areas of the garden?
  2. Which of the greatest successes should we repeat elsewhere without losing interest in the overall garden?
  3. Which of the weaknesses need correcting before next spring?
  4. Which of the greatest failures need immediate removal and how can they be avoided in the future?
  5. What totally new features and plantings should we introduce before next spring?
  6. What can we do to collect, store and better distribute any rainfall that falls before next summer? In this respect you will find the ideas described in the book now available at only £3.99 from Amazon UK and 4.25€ from Amazon ES. The ISBN number for ordering through book shops is 978-1499228601.

gardening-bookThe cover photograph on the book ‘How to Use Less Water in Your Garden’ is an Epicactus in the deep shade of a carob tree. The spectacular flowers are 15 centimetres long and have a diameter of 15 centimetres. The flowers only last for one or two days, but are still well worth having in the garden. A mature plant can have several flowers out at once. It is easy to take cuttings to build up a collection in containers. Indeed this is so for many succulents and cacti, but do use a gritty open compost and ensure containers drain well and do not become waterlogged. Yes, one day we will have long heavy down pours again!

Another succulent worth propagating to have a collection of plants is Aloe Vera. The jelly-like flesh in the thick leaves is good as an after-sun skin soother and if you have taken to buying drinks or yogurts with added Aloe Vera gel, it is less expensive and possibly more beneficial if you eat a teaspoonful a day of the natural fresh gel. I keep a leaf in the fridge for this purpose.

By the way, do recognise the benefit of an aromatic background perfume for your garden, especially from herbs as we take in some 300 to 400 grams of oxygen a day and it must be better for the lungs to be refreshed by a touch of aromatic oils than the pollution from cars, smoking and the sweaty summer air of full bars and gyms. Rosemary, Thyme, Sage, Basil, Oregano, Mint and Lavender plants are all useful in this respect.

© Dick Handscombe