The garden, mid-FebruaryFebruary 21, 2010
We’ve been so busy enjoying the sun and the garden that the monthly garden update is a few days later than usual.
Finally, after a long and wet winter, the weather has started to improve. The tipping point seems to have been Green Monday and the start of Orthodox Lent. The day is a public holiday and it is traditional for families to get together and have their first proper outside meal of the year. It is meant to be the first day of spring, and this year it was. Since then days have been warm and dry; in our little walled garden we have seen temperatures as high as 24ºC, or mid 70s F.
This is not due to last sadly; the forecast for the second part of this week is for heavy rain and thunderstorms. Back to going to bed in the rain for a little longer then.
The plants and fruit trees have been flourishing with the warmer temperatures. The lemon trees are in competition with each other to see which can produce the most growth as well as the greatest number of growth phases at once.
We have a healthy crop of large ripe lemons. We have a decent second crop of small unripe green lemons. We have a crop of tiny just-pollinated green lemons, less than a centimeter wide. We have a small outbreak of early blossom. We have a large outbreak of main blossom. Oh, and the trees are putting on new leaf at a prodigious rate.
Our builder stopped by last week and snorted in disgust at the sheer number of lemons we have. He, apparently, has six lemons on his entire tree. He waters his, prunes it, sprays it, tends to it and is currently debating when he’ll need to use his own patented potassium feed on it.
We, on the other hand, turn a hose on ours when we remember. Which, frankly, isn’t that often. We bought some citrus tree food and some stuff for dealing with leaf curl but didn’t actually get around to using them last year. The packages were last seen under a pile of boxes in the garage; maybe it works by osmosis?
As gorgeous as they are the lemons aren’t the only garden inhabitants. The peach has just started to set fruit; all being well we’re expecting a bumper crop of 7 fruit this year.
With the weather a little better we finally braved the pithari. From what we have been able to establish MadAlex never actually planted anything in it, apart from broken house bricks. Things had fallen into it and rotted, including some of our clementines, and going on the number of cobwebs and the like it was home to a range of insects and bugs.
We bought some plants to fill it but for the last month they sat forlornly to one side until we could summon the energy to dig into this four-foot high pot full of all sorts of nastiness.
Last week we could avoid it no longer. To avoid any squeamishness lets just say we’re glad that the job is done and won’t need to be repeated.
The pithari is now filled with lavender [Lavandula pinnata] which is currently clashing garishly with the bright yellow of the winter-flowering jasmine and the shocking orange of the clementines. Ian’s mother, Lucy, always loved fresh flowers and for her the stronger the colour, the better. There is no doubt she would have adored the fantastic, if unorthodox, combination of electric yellow, shocking orange and purple. Due to the growth cycle of each it is likely that we’ll only see all three together for a month or two each year.
Some of the arum lilies that we removed from the base of the pithari were re-planted in one of the large containers we brought from England. They continue to grow well but so far are showing no signs of flowering yet.
And finally, two mystery plants. One is a enigma we brought on ourselves; we were in a garden centre buying the lavender and spotted the plant. It looked interesting so we bought it. However we have absolutely no idea what it is. Before it gets a permanent home it would be helpful to know something about it so if anyone has any insights they would be much appreciated.
The other mystery plant is one we inherited when we bought the house. During his 90 second explanation of the garden MadAlex waved in its general direction and claimed it was a yellow lily. It isn’t, we know that much.
Last year we watched in fascination as it grew, and grew, and grew. This thing puts on so much growth we joked that it was possible to see it increasing in height and volume during the course of a day. A plea for identification to an online gardening community produced mixed responses. One gardener was insistent that it was a pineapple lily, another that it was an agapanthus.
During early summer last year we spotted that it had produced a dozen or more slender flower shoots. They opened out to delicate white flowerheads with a sweet but subtle fragrance. Certainly not a pineapple lily then and although the flowers had a agapanthus-like flower the foliage seems far, far too significant in size. The plant is already about four feet high; based on what we saw last year we expect at least another foot or more of growth yet.
So, another mystery plant. We’d like to transfer some of it to another part of the garden but, once more, some identification would make that easier.
So, from the early spring of Cyprus we wish you all well. More from the garden next month.