…….. or Modifying An Old One

by Clodagh and Dick Handscombe, holistic gardeners and authors living in Spain for 25 years.

Most expatriates buy properties in Spain with a very different lifestyle in mind from the one they experienced previously.

Mostly they envisage a more open-air lifestyle to make the most of the generally drier warmer and healthier climate. However, this is only possible if the garden is designed and constructed to support this and the air-conditioning system, if you have one, is not set at temperatures that make it uncomfortable to venture outdoors in summer or winter.

For instance:

  • The provision of shade from the hottest suns and shelter from the coldest winds, for the extremes of temperatures are very different from the average temperatures often quoted by tourist boards, estate agents and persons attempting to sell their house privately.
  • The provision of good sized covered and open terraces for when the family or friends visit for meals or to partake in hobby activities or games.
  • An interesting network of paths that do not turn boggy after monsoon like rainfalls.
  • Colourful, perfumed and productive with minimum monthly maintenance needs, especially if you plan a busy working or social life.
  • Safe for both young and elderly.
  • A swimming pool located and surrounded by a low leaf drop mini garden so that it is not the dominating feature of the garden.
  • Cooking features beyond a barbecue, so that ‘al fresco’ meals can be organised daily in good weather without the style of eating becoming boring. After the first few summers we have never barbecued. Instead we make much use of a parabolic solar cooker, a paella dish for paellas and a general large hot plate and a wood or charcoal fired Mexican oven.
  • A collection of fruit trees and facilities to grow at least a few ecological fruit and vegetables. Both can be grown in builders’ buckets in small spaces.
  • Thick boundary hedges for privacy and hideaways for nesting birds.
  • Trees that not only provide shade, but also hide surrounding houses and possibly local eyesores.
  • A challenge for the dedicated gardener/s in the family.
  • A garden that looks great from wherever one stands or sits at all times of the year, for with an outdoor lifestyle you will live within it and not just view it through rain-splashed windows as so often happens in northern Europe.
  • Hideaways for peaceful reads and siestas.
  • Areas for children and grandchildren to play safely without constant supervision.
  • Matches all aspects of the lifestyle that you foresee in both the short and longer term. The latter is very important if you are to be happy with your purchase.

When we wrote the first edition of our practical and comprehensive book ‘Your Garden in Spain’, the sub-title was ‘Practical ideas for gardens that suit your Spanish lifestyle’. Some years later our publisher Santana Books asked us to split the book into four in order to expand the chapters on growing fruit and vegetables and the development of gardens on apartment terraces and balconies. To differentiate the new edition of ‘Your Garden in Spain’ the subtitle gardening-bookof the new one became ‘From Planning To Planting and Maintenance’, but an essential chapter in both is Chapter 2.1 ‘Design the garden to match your lifestyle’ which includes an easy to follow self questionnaire to help you clarify your lifestyle needs. We require that anyone who asks for assistance or coaching in designing or redesigning their gardens to first read the book and then complete the questionnaire. Do so yourself before investing another euro in the garden.

Our books can be obtained from high street and internet bookshops including Amazon, The London Book Depository, Bookworld and our publisher Santana Books.

Stop Press

After test marketing the 330 page book describing our 52 day 950 kilometre walk across Spain, (not to Santiago by the way, but a rather quieter route), we have changed the title and cover. The final title is ‘Our 52 Day Adventure Along The Spanish Pyrenees’, author Dick Handscombe. It is available as a normal book and as a kindle book.

(c) Dick Handscombe www.gardenspain.com February 2014.