In the aftermath and shock of the outcome of Brexit, I’ve turned to the one thing that keeps me happy and calm and content – the garden. Although we’re still not through unpacking (getting there though, slowly), I felt it was imperative for me to do something creative and positive with the soil and living plants. The ants, tiny red ones – the ones that bite savagely – were swarming as I set out a few herbs, and I’d had to gingerly work all around them to avoid getting bitten. Although I’m abstaining from planting elsewhere in the garden this first year of observing and getting to know it better, the long and narrow raised planting bed by the veranda was just begging to be filled as it’s been empty, save for an ailing magenta bougainvillea. I’ve been told it’s too cold here (600-700 meters above sea level) for the bougainvilleas. They do stunningly well (much to my envy) in lower Villalonga and in sheltered Racó del Duc, where a friend has a garden swing lavishly canopied by magenta blooms.
The planting bed faces south, and so benefits from full sun most of the day. Herbs, except for basil and mint and other herbs which prefer moister sites, are ideal for this site. These heat-tolerant herbs, once established, can also survive with a minimum of water. I am hoping they’ll be able to survive afterwards just on rainfall. They’re in a convenient place as well, being only a few steps away from the kitchen. I shall be using them not only for cooking but also for healthful and calming tisanes. Two kinds of lavender (Lavandula dentata and another whose species name I have yet to find out – these have been sold without botanical names ), thyme, oregano, rosemary (both creeping and pyramidal types), and rue are now in place.
They’re keeping company with the Agapanthus that I’d brought from my German garden. The Agapanthus has been blooming with abandon; it’s put out 10 (!) stalks of flowers, obviously enjoying its warmer and sunnier spot here. (Much like me.) There are still 2 pots of sage waiting to be set into the ground, until I can plant a Dama de Noche that will go behind them. I’ve seen this highly scented night bloomer (Cestrum nocturnum) at the nearby Espacio Verde plant nursery a while back and I hope they still have it in stock.
Dama de Noche reminds me so much of my childhood home in Quezon City, where it grew right by the entry gate. Its modest green and white tiny flowers – almost inconspicuous among the leaves — have such a powerful wide-spreading scent, out of all proportion to their size. On both ends of the raised bed I shall plant cold-hardy jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides), but they can only be planted once a trellis is put up, ready to receive them. I am eagerly looking forward to having the jasmine’s tendrils trailing down to soften the stone arches of the veranda, wafting their perfume by day, with the Dama de Noche exuding its nostalgic scent by night.