What does this time of year mean for Mashamba, Alexander?
Winter and spring are generally the busiest time of year for Mallorca garden and terrace installations. Everybody wants their gardens done by the summer, so we race on trying to get as much done as we can. That said, we are still partial to a bit of winter sun and have just got back from an, ahem, ‘research trip’, to South Africa and Namibia.
January and February are changeable months weatherwise on the island, especially in the Tramuntana area. How can you accommodate these sudden changes in temperature?
While I am a passionate believer in the values of gardens and outdoor living here in Mallorca, I am still a realist. If the weather is miserable, I would recommend that you stay inside! However, we can still have absolutely beautiful days here too, so don’t rule out those boozy lunches on the terrace. There are still a number of plants that shine in winter.
Which plants that are especially suited?
Most Mediterranean plants actually require a good winter to thrive. A good winter in Mediterranean terms is basically a period of cooler weather, (but not that cold!), with some decent rainfall. So, in response to your question, I would have to say that winter is a necessary evil here for the plants and for our reservoirs.
If I would like a colourful garden all-year round, what would you suggest?
If you’re in an area protected from the cold north wind, then the citrus trees are usually heavy with fruit at this time of year. If you’re in a more exposed spot, a good selection of succulents such as aeonium could bring you some winter colour. It’s also hard to go wrong with lavender dentata, one of my favourites, which continues flowering for most of the year. For pots and terraces, you have your classical pansies and cyclamens.
What about herb and vegetable gardens?
Any of the twiggy herbs like rosemary, thyme or sage work well throughout the year but for the softer herbs such as mint, oregano, basil and so on you need the warmer weather. For the veggies, there are a number of winter veg that do well at this time of year – garlic, onions, cauliflower, cabbage and spinach, for instance.
How about caring for garden furniture if you want to be able to sit outside whenever the weather’s good but you don’t want it to suffer when it’s not so great?
We believe one of the best luxuries you can have in Mallorca is an outdoor space that can be enjoyed all year long, such as a covered outdoor seating area/terrace with a fireplace or outdoor heater. Although that is not a reality for everyone. If you spend most of the wintertime away, your outdoor furniture will benefit from being stored or placed in a garage if possible. If not, at least bring all cushions inside and use furniture covers when possible to prolong the life of your outdoor furniture.
A high-quality storage box is also a great investment because it allows easy access to cushions and furniture covers. You can set up your outdoor living area easily on a sunny winter day, then store it all away again.
Do you know why the almond trees blossom in January and do you incorporate them into your garden designs ever?
Most of the larger fincas in Mallorca originated as almond orchards before a house was plonked in the middle. As a result, there are often well established almond trees already scattered around the property that I try and incorporate into my designs. I do like almonds as they are generally the first to blossom and a whiff of warmer times to come. But, outside of orchards, I don’t normally plant new ones in a Mallorca garden.
Do you have a cut-off point for being commissioned to start work when the weather’s warmer?
We aim to have everything planted in a garden by the end of May, so try and plan accordingly.
One last thing, are processionarias a problem you come against and, if so, what do you recommend?
No gardeners are fans of processionarios. They’re a real pest and you don’t want to rub up against one accidentally. There are a few companies that advertise various remedies including injecting the pine trees or setting up hormone traps amongst the trees. Or you could go the old school Mallorquin way and shoot the nests out of the trees with a shotgun. I am not sure which are the most effective but recommend that you take some kind of action if you have signs of processionarios on your property.
Thanks Alexander. Sound advice as ever. If you’d like to find out more about how Mashamba might be able to help you with your plans for your Mallorca garden or terrace, contact Alexander here.