By Dick and Clodagh Handscombe

Looking forward to enjoying a 25th summer in their garden in Spain.

At the time of writing there is a week to go to the longest day of the year when days will start to shorten by a few minutes a day.

gardening-book-coverIt seems impossible that we have arrived here with very few really hot days to date that make one realise that summer is now here and increased levels of summer watering need to start. This is especially so if one has not aimed to develop a largely waterless garden with deep rooted drought-resistant plants. It does seem that that message is being picked up more and more, as during the past month the sales of our booklet ‘Making Waterless Gardens A Practical Reality Worldwide’ available via Amazon have gone up for both the hard copy and kindle versions.

I am typing this in the coolish shade of our spreading carob tree looking across the colourful garden for inspiration. Today’s temperatures are interesting. At just after midday they were as follows:

In the shady lounge, the thick wooden shutters having been left closed all morning – 19ºC. We need no air conditioning!

On the inner wall of a four metre deep covered terrace attached to the house – 23ºC.

In the deep shade of the carob tree – 25ºC

On the open terrace near the house, with a breeze – 45ºC

On a sun bed in the full sun in a sheltered spot with no breeze – 55ºC

gardening-cookingAs the sun swings to the west, the sun will creep under the carob tree. Then I will retreat to the still shuttered and cool study.

I can now smell the rabbit stew cooking on the solar cooker for a late lunch and seeing a wine bottle in a flower bed, realise that not everything was tidied up after a tapas and paella party under the carob tree last week!

gardening-foodMost of the ingredients for both dishes were from the garden and the paella was an authentic Valencian Mountain Paella with rabbit, chicken and pork meat balls – no fish or shell fish! – as cooked for weddings and christenings until thirty years ago. Now the big catering halls and restaurants have taken over those festivities, but the paella is a popular dish for Easter Monday, St. James Day 25th July, the Summer Fiesta, Valencia Day and Christmas Day, plus many Sundays during the year. We keep busy ensuring we have the vegetables and meats available from our holistic garden. gardening-paellaIf you are interested in the history of the paella and the rice dishes that Valencian families still eat on non-fiesta days our book ‘Your Personal Guide To Making Authentic Valencian Paellas’ is now available from Amazon Books.

Each month, reading the Costa Cálida Chronicle, we are very impressed with the efforts of the various groups improving the gardens on the Camposol urbanisations. As you move towards finishing the initial improvements, concentrating not only on maintenance; perhaps some allotments could be slotted in and paellas could be bubbling away to be enjoyed for lunch while you garden.

Each week during the summer, more and more summer perennials are showing their best, but we also like some special-effect plants that have beautiful flowers that last just a day or two, such as cacti, epiphyllum and epicactus. The red one in the photo opened up under the carob tree during our paella evening. When young, the flowers come unexpectedly one by one, but ten or more flowers can come out within days of each other on mature plants.

gardening-flowerI must go and eat, but it’s a shame to leave this spot with colourful seasonal flowers, a dove cooing in the heavily laden almond tree, the sound of the fish pond fountains, the secrecy of a hidden garden surrounded by trees so that neighbouring houses can’t be seen and a rockery at its best. There will be plenty of time to sit and enjoy the internal vistas of the garden during the long balmy summer ahead.

Happy summers in your garden to all readers.
Dick and Clodagh Handscombe