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The garden in autumn
The garden in winter
The garden in spring
Garden history

Today is the 26th of july, finally I start writing this summer article. I have been quite busy the last weeks as everybody wants the garden done before they leave for summer vacations. But now I have some time left and feel the need to write down some lines about this hot but beautiful season of the year. It seems that now I start to know the particularities of the garden, so I can keep up easily with the problems and concentrate on improvements and new plantings.

Summers are very hot and dry over here in Madrid -it has not rained for one and a half months- so care has to be taken with the irrigation of the lawn surface and watering of the rest of plants, trees included -even the elder ones- as the soil of my garden is very sandy and doesn't retain the water for a long time. Last winter and spring the lawn recovered very well from the last years heat, but now it is again suffering the high temperatures and some brown zones have showed up. Because of the soil conditions it is impossible to keep the lawn alive and green, the water just drains to fast. Next year, in early spring, I will need to incorporate some cubic meters of heavy substratum to the lawn and flower beds to improve the water retaining capacity.

This year I am watering the trees and the replanted pyracantha hedge with special care as last year some of the pyracantha plants dried out so I had to add young plants to close the holes in the hedge. Both the old and young plants are developing quite well now. I have to think about a solution for this part of the garden as the automatic rain system doesn't cover this area correctly and the sandy soil dries out in hours.

The bonsais are developing very well this year as I have been improving some of the soil mixtures; because of the high temperatures some of them have to be watered three to four times per day.

The illustration above shows one of the main characteristics of the garden. The upper part of the garden, which is more protected from the sun as it remains in the shadow of the main building during the afternoon, is much greener and the vegetation is very dense forming big masses in different volumes and greens. The lower part of the garden is exposed to the hot sun nearly the whole day, so the plants were chosen to withstand the hot temperatures, low air humidity and eventual water shortage. So the colors of the garden develop from the different green tonalities of the upper area to greens with yellow and brown insertions at the lower part.

The flower bed I created in spring is developing very well, all of the plants growing with vigour in the newly provided soil. The cotoneaster is already covering some of the ground area and the japanese maple tree looks very sane as it is placed in the shadow of the false plum tree (because of the very low air humidity, the leave tips normally turn brown during summer). The arizonica hedge, in the background, is also growing nicely since it was pruned last november.

Next autumn and spring I will concentrate on the lower part of the garden where up to this moment the bonsai stand and the pyracantha hedge is situated. My wife is pushing me to build a small swimming pool in this zone, so the whole area has to be redesigned and replanted. We are thinking about a margin made of teak wood and to realize a small japanese garden around the pool.

This year I have been working a lot on the pond vegetation, both surroundings and water plants. As water plants I chose white water lilies (Nymphea alba), water hyacinths (Eichornia crassipes) and water lettuce (Pistia stratoides). All seem to be developing well -water lettuce shows some brown leaves but grows well-, but I am not very sure if they will withstand the cold temperatures of the winter. As planned, I have realized a thourough cleaning of the fishpond removing the leafs, branches and rotten organic material. After removing a great amount of the seaweed, the water now looks more transparent.

I have also planted some new plants in the nearby area as ie. a black bamboo (bambusa nigra) which leans nicely over the water surface, a cotoneaster horizontalis to cover part of the slope behind the pond and also a dracena indivisa in red colors.

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Summer 2004

This summer I paid special attention to the fishpond, cleansing and planting of water plants and nearby areas.

The next two photos illustrate two details of the fish population in the fishpond, hiding under the leaves of the water lily and swimming around enjoying the clean and fresh water.