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Mallorca, A Gardeners Dream Or Nightmare

Published on 7th February 2018

Autumn is a time of renewal here, not death, and is an excellent time to plant bulbs, corms, and plants for enjoyment next Spring.Naturally, the first place to start in any garden is with the soil.

Don’t forget to plant scented shrubs so you can enjoy the sweet perfumes of those long Mallorcan summer nights.

 

One of the best for this is CESTRUM NOCTURNUM, known locally as Galan de Noche or Night Blooming Jasmine. This simple, evergreen bush requires practically no water or care and will give you many months of enjoyment.

Grows to 2.4 – 3metres. 
Spacing 1.2 -1.8m
Position: Sun to partial shade
Also suitable for growing indoors

The first thing to grasp as a Northern European person gardening in the Mediterranean is the vast number of differences: from the climate, plants, and soil conditions and to even the annoying garden pests.

I used to start pruning shrubs and trees in early October, happily thinking it was the beginning of the cold weather, but the anguished cries of my Mallorquin neighbor, Guillermo, who lived next door in the house in which he was born, told me that it was far too early to start chopping!  One has to realize that the seasons, as far as gardening is concerned, are almost the reverse of those in Northern Europe:  here, summer is the dormant time for many plants, while the best shows of color and scent are in late April and May. 

Firstly, check that you have at least 30 cms of good, fertile, friable top-soil. Top-soil and fertilizer are available here from garden contractors at reasonable rates, and it’s worth making that initial investment as it will make all the difference to your end results. Begin by spreading your soil evenly onto its base, mix in well-rotted horse manure, and let the soil rest for a few weeks.  As the soil in Mallorca is still warm in October you can begin planting any bulbs, trees or plants you have decided on for your scheme, and let the winter rains settle them in. Choose your planting carefully, according to the aspect of your land. Do not forget that West-facing areas will face the full force of the afternoon sun in the summer, while North-facing sites may not enjoy much sun at all from October to April. The coldest wind here is the Tramuntana, which blows down from the mountains in the North, and can burn a young, unprotected garden in no time. You would be well advised to plant a windbreak first of all, if you live in the East or North of the island. The West is the warmest and driest area, so plants should be drought resistant and sun-loving to thrive in that part of the island.  

When planning your garden, you must also take into account how it will be supplied with water. There are many different types of irrigation system available, from a drip system, or a pop-up spray system, to a buried leaky-pipe on a timer. Have your local water supply tested for limescale content as knowing your water type is vital to your success? If you live in a hard water area you may experience serious problems with blocked pipes in irrigation systems. Your local chemist will test your water for you. One option if your water is very hard, is to install a water softener. 

Any lighting cables can be laid at the same time as the water pipes, so think ahead where you will be sitting in the summer evenings to enjoy the maximum pleasure of your garden at night. 

Don’t worry, if this sounds like a lot of laboring to do in October, it’s so mild here, you will still have all winter to get down on your hands and knees and get to work!

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