Saturday, April 28, 2012

April to May

Well, we're doing all right for April showers. I put the houseplants outside to get the benefit of Thursday's mist, which developed into drizzle later the same day, and a then a whole string of downpours that are going to continue for several days to come..

This was mist, not rain.

These rather battered beauties in yellow, orange and red are ranunculus. I love the way their petals fluff up like tulle underskirts or the leg feathers on fancy chickens, and it was cheering to have full-on sun colours after the beautiful purple and apricot of the winter pansies. As you might expect, they're about as enthusiastic about wind and rain as a socialite at Ascot, so when I saw the weather forecast a few weeks ago, I brought them straight inside. It wasn't so much the forecast of wind, but that the weatherman said that the Tramontana would start at 1 o'clock the next day. A wind so distinctive that it has a name, and you can time its arrival? Duck for cover. Sure enough, the next day, it started: powerful, gusting and sooooo cold; blowing clouds across the sky so fast that rain came and went and came again throughout the days and nights that followed. The temperature dropped abruptly.

In fact, if we're getting the Tramontana, it's with a small t, because the original is cousin to the provençale Mistral, originates in the Pyrenees, and causes mayhem among the good people of Catalonia. But there's still something blowing in from our Sierra Guadarrama - tra our montanas! As for the ranunculus, even indoors, they don't like it, but after sulking for a while, they perked up and were great fun for weeks. Recently, though, they've been moulting like nobody's business. Usually, the first thing I do when I get new plants home is repot them, but these girls' petals are so fragile that I didn't dare, so I suspect they're potbound by now. Definitely not happy, anyway. So I put them out again in Thursday's misty morning air as a treat. Oops.
The Season is definitely over for them.

The herbs are doing well, even the basil (total diva). I love the taste and smell of basil, but the plant's a  bore. We've bought three plants for a full trough to be sure of a plentiful supply. I'm investing in some irrigation gear this year, to save water and my back, but I'm bringing most of the herbs indoors to the glazed terrace, because they didn't cope well with last summer's heat. I do love the sight and smell of them indoors, and of course, the kitchen opens straight onto the glazed terrace, so they'll be really handy for Keef. On the left are last year's lavender and flat Italian parsley, which I thought would thrive outside but it did neither better nor worse than the curly English parsley (not great). So the parsley's coming indoors, as is the basil and oregano. The coriander and mint flourish anywhere, so we'll have some in pots inside, and more in troughs on the terrace.

Also to come -

salad greens

cucumbers, green peppers & red peppers-in-waiting

peas! (and holly in flower)

proto-lemons, which start out as the purple heart of the blossom, and then turn green, and then, if we're lucky, stay on the tree long enough to get big and yellow and delicious
aubergines - there's one right there - so exciting!

and also, most important, shade - work in progress 
      don't know what it is, but it's looking fair to cover the frame of the  parasol that got trashed by the wind last year

and we've got two of them

Jasmine, also heading up and - I hope - over. Scented shade! 

Spring in Madrid

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