Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas!

Nativity scenes are very popular in Portugal and this year the little town of Guia, famous for its chicken piri-piri restaurants, has a very interesting one that invites you to walk along its narrow streets between two churches.

The annunciation
You start here, then cross the  road and walk along...

And, to the left and further up you find the second church.

 If you like churches, you may like to visit my Portuguese blog, where I'm going to start a Sunday post featuring churches from different parts of the country.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - December 2015

After some serious hassles when my free Windows 10 update from Windows 7 malfunctioned, I'm finally back to blogging.

This is how my garden looked mid-December.
my garden viewed from my gate
I have been careful not to show you the grass. Fortunately, the gardener has been round with his lawnmower, so it's looking OK now. I asked him to cut back my damaged lavender but, to my dismay, it had to go completely as the old woody core was rotting. I guess all good things have to end at some point...
last of the roses
Next time the gardener comes, he'll be pruning the roses, cutting back the other lavenders and moving some plants. I'm afraid that I no longer have the time or the energy. 
This is just one of the plants that needs to move, at least into a bigger pot.

This is is all I have time for. 
See you all in the New Year for more gardening updates from my small Algarve garden.


Sunday, November 15, 2015

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - November 2015

Welcome to my Algarve garden. I don't have much in the way of blooms after a few weeks of unusually wet weather for early November.
november flowering bulbs
I have a few of these scattered around the garden.
pretty ground cover
This ground cover is happy after all the rain.
red hibiscus
 My red hibiscus is still blooming but it's got weeds for company.
This lavender is still pretty but parts of it are very woody. The other one is overdue for a major cut back, either as soon as I have time or when my friendly gardener comes in to paint my gates.
good bush for USDA 10a
And last but not least, a bush that flowers almost all year round.

I can hardly believe that a month has gone by. There has been so much work to do for school that one day just seems to merge into the next and the weekends haven't been enough for me to catch up.  

And on the subject of weekends,  on the 1st of November it rained so hard for a few hours that there was a flash flood in my back patio and the water was just millimetres from invading my ground floor when, fortunately, one of my neighbours managed to divert the course of the water - making it cross my carport and leave through the front gates! Downtown Albufeira suffered terrible water damage that day.

I have no idea if I'll have any blooms next month, but you never know.
And there are always blooms in the gardens featured on May Dreams Gardens. They are definitely worth a visit.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - October 2015

Hi, there. I'm late again to the garden party. These are the blooms I found in my garden on Thursday.
Cuphea, curry plant, etc.
I think this photo sums up the look at the moment - it's a bit of a jungle. There are too many plants in a small space.  It rained at the weekend and the grass suddenly took to growing fast again. 

Thankfully, I found time to mow yesterday because it's raining again as I write this. Oh, and one of the wheels on my mower kept wobbling off so my wish that the machine would last until I had got rid of all the grass isn't going to come true. (sighs)

This lavender is doing well, which is more than I can say for the other one, poor thing. I am going to cut it right back (as the gardener suggested a while ago).

The summer was too hot for the roses but I still have a few blooms.
Red roses' blooming again

Yellow and red rosebud

Now that the soil is workable again, I must find time to do some weeding.

 Under this bush I now have two pots and a tray of orchid backbulbs. I finally divided the orchids that had overfilled their original pots and am trying to get some of the backbulbs to root. I wonder if I will be successful.

And that's all I have for you this month.

Thank you to Carol, at May Dreams Gardens for hosting Bloom Day.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Roundabouts - 2

The resort town of Albufeira has many roundabouts. Apart from helping to control traffic, they also serve as reference when people are asking for or giving directions. But more about that another time.
roundabout, Albufeira, Algarve

Here is one of the newer and not too busy ones, near the beach.

Albufeira roundabout sculpture

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Roundabouts - 1

When I was teaching in S. João da Madeira almost 20 years ago, it was known as the "roundabout capital" of Portugal. Roundabouts were beginning to replace the traditional intersections with traffic lights. There seemed to be a "roundabout madness" and buses and other longer vehicles had difficulty negotiating some of the ones built where there just wasn't enough space.

Now every town has many and besides being useful, they lend themselves to artistic efforts. The middle of roundabouts vary from the simple circle to the weird and wonderful. The one in this picture must be a nightmare for the gardener. How does he manage to keep the grass trimmed?

green, hilly roundabout

Don't you think the sculpture looks a little lost there?

"We dance round in a ring and suppose, but the secret sits in the middle and knows" - Robert Frost

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - September 2015

It's the 15th again! Here in my hardiness zone 10a garden on the south coast of Portugal it rained for a few minutes, while the north of the country is under heavy rain and strong winds.

There isn't much blooming in my garden after a few months of very hot and dry weather. I was away for nearly three weeks and although my neighbour came and watered every day the heat has taken its toll. The belladonna lilies are not complaining, though.
rain-kissed belladonna lily
They are livening up an otherwise dull rose bed.

amaryllis belladonna

The oleanders are keeping the other side of the garden colourful.
oleanders in bloom

And the hibiscus is doing its best along the side wall.
yellow hibuscus

Hopefully there will be some roses next month.

Now I'm off the May Dreams Gardens to see what's blooming in other parts of the world.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - August 2015

Today I have just one bloom for you as my hibiscus is just about the only plant that is taking the heat (35ºC) gracefully and producing flowers.

Join me again next month and, in the meantime, hop over to May Dreams Gardens where Carol hosts Bloom Day. There I'm sure you'll find gardens that you will love.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - July 2015

Two words for July: heat and snake! It's very hot and I actually saw a snake less than a metre from me. Yikes! 
For a few weeks now temperatures have been rising above 35ºC mid-afternoon. It's simply too hot to venture out of the air-conditioned house between ten in the morning and eight in the evening. Sadly, this means I have neglected my garden. And having a snake around hasn't helped matters.

Mr. Ladder Snake, I believe?
It may seem weird that someone who lived in Africa for seventeen years never encountered a snake there, but it is the truth. I remember my mother telling me about the snakes she had seen around the yard but nothing similar ever happened to me, thank goodness! You see - I am a wuss; I'm petrified of snakes. 

There are no really dangerous Portuguese snakes but I go to pieces just at the thought that there was a ladder snake on my compost bin. I got Miguel, the friendly gardener, to come in and demolish the potato vine and jasmine because it was getting too dense and large and I had this vision of an imaginary snake hiding in its expanse and dropping down on me as I walked by. You see how my irrational fear creates worst case scenarios? Well, Miguel laughed as he removed the innocent potato vine, poked at the compost bin and tried to convince me that the snake was long gone. Heck, a kind snake would have left the premises in front of my eyes to make me feel better.

Now, back to the blooms. The oleander is looking superb.

The neighbour's creeper is adding colour and height to my border.

There are some lilies.
And there is always some action around my lavender.

Some roses would be nice - maybe next month. I'm looking forward to a cooler, calmer August. 

Now, I'm off to link up to May Dreams Gardens, where Carol hosts Bloom Day.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Some dogs have all the luck!

 Some dogs get all the breaks...
Meet Clarinha, Pantera and Ruby
These adorable doggies live with a lovely family near Faro and they even have their own place - traditional Algarve style of course - complete with an Algarve chimney.

Clarinha, relaxing in style
Each room has been tastefully furnished and decorated with wall-to-wall shaggy carpet and comfortable cushions!

I've never seen anything quite like this before, have you?

Monday, June 15, 2015

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - June 2015

It finally rained yesterday.
Mara's garden
Isn't green a beautiful colour? I have chosen what to photograph very carefully but I don't really want to deceive you into thinking everything in my garden is wonderful.  

Hibiscus, oleander and santolina
You see, it is suffering the consequences of some rash/uninformed choices that I have made. For example, in the photo above, to the left of the poorly-looking santolina and even behind the hibiscus lurk invasive mirabilis jalapa. After going to so much trouble to get some last year and enjoying the colours and perfume in the autumn, I now have the horrible task of trying to get rid of the few original plants plus all the little babies they have produced. If only my neighbour had told me how hard it was to get rid of last autumn!
Busy rosebed
Another problem is that the rose bed has too many plants, including an invasive mint but where are the roses? I haven't had time to do any dead-heading, so no blooms.
The lavenders have been a talking point for ages but all good things come to an end, too. Some of the middle branches have died, which means I will have to remove this damaged lavender soon.

bougainvillea close-up
Looking on the bright side, the bougainvillea looks pretty.
blue and white agapanthus blooms
The agapanthus are blooming.
yellow yarrow
And here is my favourite plant for this bloom day - I believe it's yarrow Tansy (Thank you, pmbGarden). Last year it looked a bit puny but now it seems right at home. I have planted some more by the front wall but you can't really see them. I love the scented foliage, but now I've read that it's invasive. Oh dear!

Thank you to Carol at May Dreams Gardens for hosting Bloom Day. Visit her blog to find beautiful June blooms.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Isn't it ironic?

Only a few weeks ago I had my Year 11 students read a text that began with the comment: "She's/he's very talented, just not very good at dealing with co-workers". Later, they had to write a composition giving advice on how to deal with difficult classmates or co-workers. It resulted in the best batch of compositions I got all year.

Unfortunately, dealing with unhelpful or downright mean colleagues or being labelled "difficult" myself when I try not to take their crap lying down is something I have experienced more frequently than is acceptable during the past 20 years in the teaching profession.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - May 2015

It's a very hot May in my part of the world.
view from the gate
Hi, there! Come in, come in!
As you come through the gate, you are greeted by scent and blooms today.
 A few steps further in... I like the colour combination which I have to confess I didn't plan. This is the bed I created after removing some grass. The geraniums (or are these pelargoniums?) are from cuttings I just plonked in empty spaces to take root. The red roses were a gift and I had nowhere else to put them. Now these plants all look great together, don't they? It's getting a bit overcrowded, though, so changes need to be made. However, I can't bear to go in right now for fear of spoiling the effect.

Scented lilies
Nearer the house, the lilies are in bloom, all at once! They won't last long in the heat, which is a pity. 

And then we have the roses...

Although I am gradually trying to reduce the amount of water required to keep my garden happy by introducing plants that do well in the long, dry summer, I cannot see myself giving up my roses.

May has to be one of my favourite months of the year in the garden. It's when suddenly everything seems to come together and there is an explosion of colour everywhere.

Now why don't you join me as I travel to May Dream's Gardens, where garden bloggers meet and share their gardens.

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