Sunday, July 31, 2011

Pots, Privacy & Peas: Paradise

I've got this notion: dappled shade. That's what we're going to have. Also beautiful growing things: healthy, handsome, aromatic, delicious!

Terrace as paradise. I learnt from Paul Fleischman's Seedfolks that the word paradise came into English, via Old Persian and Greek, from the older Avestan (Eastern Iranian language) para daesa, or pairidaêza, meaning walled garden - from which the Spanish word pared (wall) is derived. Persian gardens........

The picture so far:

Look at that shoot!

Keef planted these in late June. Neither of us knows anything about growing things from seed, so we just keep watering, and watching, and most of them are coming up. We've had blossom since Thursday, and there's another 30cm to come, according to the packet. It's been fascinating to see these very strange plants opening up and throwing out wiggly tendrils. We nudged them towards the railings at first, but they've got the idea now. Looking forward to paradise peas with mint. Until then I suppose we'll just have to continue with our evening mojitos to use it up - you can't leave mint growing unchecked: it could take over the planet...

Where was I? Oh yeah..

So Keef said, "Remember the blue wall in that glasshouse at Normanby Hall?
I want to paint that wall blue."
And I said, "Um... ok."
My husband the genius. Fab!
The troughs have not done well, and those two arum lilies scorched in the sun, and have since moved indoors with me (Sit in the sun? In Spain? In Summer? Talk to the leaf, honey. I don't think so!).

Otherwise, isn't it beautiful? When you think of calming blues, you think aqua... sky... duck-egg... teal... But cobalt? Except it works. It would be hideous under northern light - sallow and garish in summer and cold and garish in winter. Here, though, although we're north of the Equator, Madrid light doesn't have the blue-grey or white softness or the cold, yellow-grey slatey cast that you find further north. Under this sun, orange is the real colour of Spain (Apologies to the Dutch, but it's true.) because the sun makes it sing at this latitude. And cobalt blue is simply... cool.

So, peas, herbs, and a dream of dappled shade. And privacy. And filtering the sun, but welcoming every breeze.

There was tatty barasti (woven palmleaf fencing) attached to the railing on the street side. Keef hated it because it was ugly, with it's old cable ties, torn bindings and random bits of satin ribbon holding it up. He had a point.
But I liked it as a very practical privacy screen between us and the people across the road, because I like working with what I've got rather than binning it and starting afresh (Think entire fitted kitchens in skips, rather than fencing!) but mostly for its nostalgic associations with a more human, down-to-earth version of life in Dubai: the pre-madness Dubai of Chicago Beach Village, Jebel Ali Village, Fridays at Eric's, Brian & Sami, Pete & Louise, Peter's place near the Fishing Village, the Rugby Club, etc. So much weight on a collection of sticks held together with string!
But it was definitely ugly. I used cable ties to mount an opened-out, wrought-iron screen set with red glass tealight holders against the railings, sandwiching the barasti in between. That meant meant I could strip off the exhausted fabric binding and dispense with the bits of ribbon and old cable ties. That increases the height of the fence and has a net curtain effect in the lower part but lets the sky through in the upper part. It looks pretty from below, with the glow of sunlight through red glass; and it's sturdy enough to support the climbers that will work their way through it, and over the washing-line web strung overhead. And we both like it!

It's tempting to rush and buy lots of stuff for instant effect, but for me, gardening is the ultimate art of the possible, and starts with dreams and patience, and learning the quirks of your patch.

And brutal August is just around the corner, so that's pretty well it til chrysanthemum time. Must find out when to put crocuses, narcissi and tulips in. And spuds. Maybe I can order several kilos of soil from Lincolnshire, so that my beloved can have proper new potatoes...

And a compact composter, and a rainbarrel, and some ducky little solar-powered fairy lights....

Next year, I'm going to set a summer windbreak of beans, courgettes and pumpkins; un-temperamental, scrambling, brilliantly flowered climbers with sturdy stems, shady leaves and handsome fruits to delight our eyes and fill our stomachs, then die away to let the winter light through.

And lemon verbena ,
lemon-scented geranium ,
nicotiana alata , jasminum nitidum and galan de noche (cestrum nocturnum) for wonderful smells by day (for Keef) and in the evening (for me!).

And trailing geraniums and petunias.

And nasturtiums cos I love 'em.

And a hibiscus. Gotta have a hibiscus.

And maybe a lime tree to keep the lemon tree company.



Mme Cyn said...

Your garden will be brilliant (just like you!) and that is an exceptionally fine shade of blue on the walls. Mabrook!

Mama Duck said...

Shukran habibti!I'm now on holiday, and boy do I need it. So tired I could cry. Mornings and evenings out there to get my strength up for museums and galleries in the afternoons. I bought some solar powered lamps yesterday, so I can sit out and read - or practise my crochet - or just sip a mojito - after the sun goes down. I think that's the way to do August, yes?