Alex of upmarket Majorcan garden and terrace experts and Deia Olive Press regulars Mashamba has, as ever, some excellent advice.
I guess making sure your Majorcan garden has enough water is the biggest challenge at this time, Alex.
It is. Making sure that you have a good water supply is the top priority. Having an automated irrigation system, in particular, can save you hours every day. That said, it’s really important you don’t overwater plants during the summer.
Most plants in your Majorcan garden should be naturally suited to the Mediterranean climate, so overwatering can often kill them far quicker than a period of drought. Fungus and disease thrive in hot humid soil and the local plants don’t have the natural defences to deal with them. You should always allow soil to dry out – not just on the surface – before you water again to avoid these issues.
Are there any particular challenges people face on the north-west coast around Deià?
The only real Deià-specific challenges I can think of are making sure that you don’t fall out of your hammock! My advice is to just settle back, relax and enjoy the summer.
Do you have any special tips regarding trees and shrubs, flowers, herb and vegetable gardens?
Many Mediterranean plants go into a state of semi-dormancy during the heat of the summer, so gardens rarely look their best or at least their most colourful at this time of year. This is completely natural. But a nicely designed garden should still give you plenty to enjoy throughout the summer.
Are insects and animals ever a problem? If so, what can people do?
Garden pests come in all shapes and sizes. Goats are usually considered arch enemy number one as they can munch their way through a garden quickly. They’re also very difficult to stop as they can hop over far taller fences than you’d think possible. The only real protection against a goat invasion is to build your fence even higher and make sure there are no trees abutting it that they could use to climb over.
Mallorca also has its fair share of bugs and there are some that can cause real damage. The palm beetle is an obvious example, along with the palm moth. If these become established, they can destroy a palm tree from within. There are plenty of others too that can damage the beauty of a garden. But there are products to deal with all these insects and a good gardener should be able to spot the signs before there’s a real problem.
A garden will only ever look as good as it is maintained, no matter how well it’s been designed.
How can people deal with water restrictions?
A newly planted garden will need watering through the first few summers to allow the roots to become established. But, assuming you have Mediterranean plants in your garden, once they’ve been able to settle in for two or three years they should be able to cope with minimal water during the summer. They would certainly look far better for some regular watering, but in theory, they should at least survive on not very much. So, if water is a serious concern, plant wisely. Choose cacti, succulents and any of those plants that you see growing wild. Most importantly, avoid lawns and any plant that requires lots of water.
Homeowners are often away in July and August. How would you suggest they maintain their garden in these months?
A garden will only ever look as good as it is maintained, no matter how well it’s been designed. I always recommend that people get a professional garden maintenance company in to take care of their pride and joy on a regular basis, whether the owner is there or not. Especially during the summer, you’ll need somebody to keep an eye on the irrigation system and make sure that there are no infestations. But, to be honest, you should always stay on top of a garden and not let it get out of control. Often when the owners are away, gardeners take on other jobs that are less aesthetic, but no less important.
Thanks Alex. Great advice.
If you’re looking for someone trustworthy to maintain your garden, Chales Marlow always recommends Steve Costello. Email Steve at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him on +34 699537046.