Planning a Portuguese Country Garden

Help! - A blank canvas

Help! – A blank canvas

Oh dear!  When we bought Quinta Blackberry last summer the garden was full of rubbish.  Struggling up between the brambles and the tin cans were roses, a peach tree and a rather sad looking nespera. This year I have a divine plan to turn the garden into an oasis of flowers, fruit and vegetables and maybe even have a pond.  Watch this space!

I may have a problem with this.  My mother had green fingers, my childhood garden was full of flowers which encouraged butterflies and bees and summer meant a plethora of home grown food. Similarly our neighbour’s house where I often played had a neatly manicured lawn and borders packed with pretty flowers all year round. With such influences you’d think I’d have green fingers too, but oh no, not at all.  Mine seem to be red, the opposite of green on the colour wheel.  My attempts at organic gardening means the slugs and snails, mice and squirrels, just eat whatever I grow.  Hmmm.  Haven’t quite got the hang of it yet.

An English country garden with leylandii and a cherry tree eaten by ivy.  Spot the flower.

An English country garden with leylandii and a cherry tree eaten by ivy

Meanwhile in Portugal Diggory our builder, his brother and a team of men worked from dawn to dusk last August clearing our garden so we could at least see an outline of a flower border, spindly rose bushes and potential for creating a haven with pergolas, spots to put benches and somewhere for the pool when and if we eventually get it in the ground.

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Diggory and his brother worked from dawn to dust clearing brambles and rubbish

I need to learn from my mistakes at our English house which suited it’s wild and overgrown look.  I started out with good intentions, buying a soil testing kit when we first moved into our Cambridgeshire house which I lost the first day and which strangely never reappeared during the following ten years.  Consequently I planted anything anywhere. With a garden of huge beech and walnut, plus masses of fruit trees and hedges of leylandii, there was no point planting anything requiring sunshine and good drainage.  Blue bells were the order of the day and fortunately a fabulous David Austin rose which thrived around the front door.

David Austin rose

David Austin rose

Now I have a garden full of sunshine throwing up new problems.  So far the roses which are tall and straggly, have got black spot, Jae has climbed up the peach tree and broken off it’s top branch and the olive trees bore no olives this year.

In November I planted more fruit trees.  Lemon, orange, tangerine, apple, pear, cherry and apricot. I planted most of them before Christmas.  I forgot to stake them but fortunately, courtesy of Zed, stakes have since appeared which is fortunate because the wind today is probably high enough to blow Dorothy from Kansas to the yellow brick road, let alone keep a few little saplings in the ground.

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Orange tree planted!

I dug holes a foot wide and a foot deep to put the trees in, filled the holes back in with the soil and put some rubble as a sort of mulch over the top.  We’ll see if any of them survive.

Zed popped in some staking

Zed popped in some staking

Meanwhile I’ve been trimming and dead heading the roses and cleared a border of nettles and brambles ready for some gladioli and….well maybe I should do a plan, come up with a border design, before I go any further.

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An attempt at clearing a border – and a long way to go

Meanwhile I’ll be picking up gardening tips from some of my favourite blogs, Karma Quinta and  pigletinportugal.

 

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2 thoughts on “Planning a Portuguese Country Garden

  1. Stick with roses – they thrive in Portugal and need very little water when established. Banana skins discourage black spot – pick up and burn or throw out infected fallen leaves as they harbour the spores that cause it. If you stick long rose cuttings a foot in the ground now and keep watered there is a good chance this time next year they will have rooted so you have new plants for free.

    Like this

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