domingo, 13 de enero de 2019

Oh, sh!t

I hope not to offend anyone with this post's title, but it really is apropos.

The Friday before Christmas, I came home in the evening to find the town-owned property in front of our front wall absolutely swamped.  We have a prunus serrulata, a cupressus sempervirens and a walnut tree planted there, and they were all standing in a good 6 inches of water.  I called the water company's emergency line, and decided to rake back all the river rock gravel that I use to keep the weeds under control.  However, the leak was not near the street; instead, it was gurgling up just 8 inches from our front wall, walkway and gate.

Fearing for the integrity of the wall foundation, including the column holding up the large gate, I dug a drainage ditch to drain the water away from the wall and down the street towards the empty house lot next door.  Our 18-year-old son was home from college for Christmas, and he gave me a hand with the digging.

By the time we got the water draining away from the wall, the water company technician had arrived and immediately told me to step away - "That's not water," he said.  WHAAAAT?!  It was night, dark, and some water was running into a storm drain, so I thought the smell was coming from there.

Apparently, our gated community has a very superficial sewage system that has a number of faults.  New pumps were installed about a year ago, and leaks have been popping up in several áreas ever since.  We had no idea.

So, the following day (yes, the FOLLOWING day), the municipal workers came out to turn off the pump for our street.  The leak continued for another day, as gravity made the whole street drain at my front gate.  Lovely.  Merry Christmas.  Bah-humbug.

So now, three weeks later, the water has finally been absorbed and the stench is gone, but no repairs have been made and the pumps have not been turned back on.  So, where is it all going?  Well, remember that lovely stream and reservoir we have behind our property?  Yes... Oh, sh!t.

lunes, 7 de enero de 2019

In A Vase On Monday - Wreath

OK, so I am cheating.  I have not prepared a vase, and the holiday season is over, but I still wanted to share a simple wreath that I threw together just before Christmas.  

Inspired by the other wreaths in IAVOM posts, I decided to wrap together some parthenocissus tricuspidata vines that had started to take over the front of our house.  These twisted together suprisingly well because they are quite small in diameter and flexible no tying necessary.  We don't have fir trees here in LaMancha, so the greenery I added is rosmarinus postrata, and the red hips are from rosa canina rootstock that grew after transplanting a rosebush.

I like the simple asymmetrical look with our old-fashioned Toledo oak door.  And, I am happy to find that, two weeks later, the rosemary has not dropped is "needles".  Of course, the door is north-facing, so I would not recommend it for a south-facing door.

Stop by Rambling in the Garden to see other In A Vase On Monday posts for more inspiration!

domingo, 6 de enero de 2019

Three Kings Day

Epiphany, Little Christmas, Twelfth Night… you may call it what you will, but in Spain January 6th is El Día de Los Reyes Magos, or Three Kings Day.  On the night of the 5th, Spanish children leave out a shoe for the Three Kings to fill with gifts brought from the Far Orient on camels and accompanied by their pages.

In addition to gift-giving, there is always a feast of roscón de Reyes, which is a sweet yeast bread flavored with agua de azahar, or orange blossom water.  Dried orange blossoms are left for a day in water to give a lovely aroma to the roscón.  Obviously a Moorish influence, I have not seen agua de azahar used in any other foods.

The roscones are sold with a gold-foil crown, and they have a large butter bean and ceramic figurine hidden inside.  Whoever finds the figurine in their piece of roscón is "crowned" as King, and whoever gets the bean is supposed to pay for the roscón (fancier ones can cost up to €60!).  Over the years, children can collect quite a few figurines!

Roscones are often served with chocolate, which is a very thick hot chocolate, almost like a warm pudding or custard.  Some modern roscones are glazed with chocolate or filled with whipped cream, chocolate cream or cabello de angel ("angel hair", which is candied spaghetti squash).  My family prefers the more traditional type, though.

In the afternoon, we have a family meal, which is usually seafood-based as my father-in-law owned a small fish market until he retired.  Prawn, smoked salmon, peaches with tuna and caviar (my favorite) and oven-roasted sea bass are all usually on the menu, accompanied by Spanish cured ham and cheeses for the kids who are not big fans of seafood.  Oh!  And don't forget the escarole salad with clementines and pomegranate arils with a garlicky olive oil vinaigrette - yum!

A cousin of mine recently asked me about our Spanish traditions, so my sisters-in-law sent me all these photos to share and the photo credit goes to them.  Many thanks!  But, the Spanish Christmas tradition that I love the most is the Belén, or Bethlehem.  Instead of a Christmas village or a simple Nativity scene, in early December put together in their homes full-on towns of Bethlehem, with houses, vegetable gardens, gristmills with running wáter, paths and bridges, shepherds with their sheep, etc, all around a nativity scene with approaching Wise Men on their camels.  Some are truly works of art with antigue figurines, while others are made with Playmobil or Lego figurines with Play-doh for children to be able to touch.  Below are photos of my sister-in-law's Belén, with lights, running water, beach sand and moss.  Each year, they go to the Christmas market in the center of Madrid to add to their collection.  Isn't it wonderful?


So, wherever you are and whatever your traditions, I hope you have had a very happy holiday season.  May 2019 be your best year yet!

lunes, 17 de diciembre de 2018

Bloom Day - December, 2018

The 15th of every month is Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, when we all post photos of what is blooming in our gardens.  But, today is not the 15th, is it?  With the rush to finish work before the holidays and our eldest son coming home tomorrow for Christmas, my mind has been elsewhere!

Although winter is right around the corner and we have had some frost, I do have a few pretties to share.

This rose looks lovely, until you realize that it is Benjain Britten, and that icy-pin color it is sporting is not its true color.
Benjamin Britten

Abraham Darby, protected by a stone wall, continues to produce near-perfect roses. 
Abraham Darby
Abraham Darby

La Sevillana has not noticed that all her neighbors are lying dormant.
Such a hard worker! 

La Sevillana

The mums are on their way out, but they still provide color.

Gaura, oh gaura!  How did I ever live without you before this year?  She has been blooming for a record-breaking 8 months!

What is still blooming in your garden?  

Stop by May Dreams Gardens to see what's blooming in other peoples' gardens
from around the world.

lunes, 3 de diciembre de 2018

In a Vase on Monday - Cat Toy

Just a few snippets

You know, there are some very talented gardening bloggers out there who also excel in flower arranging.  I just happen to not be one of them.

Gaura, with her long-arching arms, is difficult to photograph

But, I often have a few clippings in a base on our kitchen table, especially on the weekends.  This weekend I had been taking cuttings to propagate gaura, salvia and abelia, so the flower tips wound up in an old maple syrup bottle on the table.  It did not take long for our cat, Luna, to take an interest in it.

Stop by Rambling in the Garden for the weekly In A Vase on Monday posts to see other proper arrangements.  As for my little vase, it's now high up on top of the cupboards, where I'm sure the spiders will enjoy it.

viernes, 30 de noviembre de 2018

End of the Month Garden View - November, 2018

Well, that went fast.  Of course, I didn't get much done in the garden this month, but I did at least do something.

New planting area

Since we've had some rain and the clay has softened up a bit, I have been focusing on the back patio area.  The 'soil' is absolutely horrendous, so several days were taken up by ammending the area before planting.  This will be an irrigation-free area, and my budget is 0€, so I have been planting propagated cuttings and iris divisions.  If it all dies, at least I won't be taking a loss!

I've also been moving around rocks in front of a small slope to create a planting area with improved soil, but now I've found that Trufa has been digging up the irises.

New planting área on small slope - look at those holes!  BAD DOG!


The front yard could use some cleaning up, but that will have to be done next month.

The neglected front garden

Taking photos for this post and owning up to the current state of my garden does not exactly feel inspiring.  Will next month be any better?

I am posting with The Patient Gardener for the End of the Month View, where other gardeners will hopefully have accomplished more than I this month.

What have you been doing in your garden this month?