In times of COVID-19 the whole world around us has come to a standstill – apart from nature. I write this sitting on my terrace, and while gnawing on my pencil end I look out over my garden that is at its lushest and most gorgeous at this time of year. An where normally I would, in the distance, hear a constant susurration from the road between Andratx and the Port there is … nothing! Or rather, much better than nothing – birdsong, the humming of bees in the lavender, the braying of a donkey, the crowing of a rooster here and there (you are mistaken if you think they have a go at it at daybreak only), the barking of dogs … In these past weeks of shutdown, I have come to realize more than ever how fortunate I am to have this piece of suelo rústico – rural land.
The Beginnings #
When we bought our little finca over thirty years ago to spend the summer holidays with our kids, it was all very primitive – no running water, no flush toilet or any other of the amenities of modern life, but with loads of space for each of us to indulge our passions: while the children were busy building a race track in the stone-hard, sun-baked soil for their soapbox carts (improvised from materials found at the nearby scrapyard) or sat in trees shouting into their tin can telephones, we grown-ups relaxed in the shade of olive trees (that is, if we were not busy hand-digging a pit for a septic tank or mixing concrete for a new kitchen floor with shovel in hand). The garden? Which garden? The piece of land surrounding our idyll could hardly qualify as that.
Now, decades later, with the kids grown up and independent, we have more time on our hands and spend a good share of it on our tiny slice of this beloved island. True, we have done a lot of work clearing away barbed-wire fences enlaced with murderous cactus and sticky vines, taming bushes, pruning trees and getting a proper compost going, and we love sitting on the terrace and looking at it all – as I do now, with the rest of the family in Germany and me, alone, enjoying being stuck on Mallorca. But we never actually labelled it all until our good friend Stefan came to see us some time ago, and after a little walk up the hill exclaimed: “What a beautiful garden you’ve created!”
A Garden for Part-Time Residents #
As we have never lived on Mallorca full-time and considered it too big an expense to hire a squad of helpers to tend to our land while we were gone we needed to find a way to create a garden that works on its own, without watering, but with a helping hand here and there. What we had in mind was a kind of “manicured” nature, making use of endemic plants and especially plants that choose to grow on our land out of their own free will. And we were not afraid to keep repeating what really worked: Aloes of all kinds, echium, aeonium, iris, lavender, rosemary and sage. What we got? Maximum beauty with a minimum of water (and work).
We have reached a stage now where the garden does pretty much look after itself when we are gone. It is a bit more unkempt when we come back. It can happen that we find the grass and weeds standing knee-high in the driveway, and in early spring we have to dig out our flowerbeds from underneath a sea of yellow clover. There is no such thing as a no-work garden. You have to love getting your hands into the soil and weed and prune and mow and potter around in your gardening clothes. But right now, what with the coronavirus shutdown, I feel it is exactly that which keeps me sane and fit and healthy.
What Works and What Doesn’t Work #
In this ULTIMATE GUIDE I want to share the pleasure of my garden and explain how we created it. Maybe you are in the same situation as I am right now, locked into quarantine on a finca in rural Mallorca – or maybe you have a little town garden or patio or even balcony in Palma or one of the smaller or bigger towns and villages around the island. Big or small, the principles of Mediterranean gardening are the same. And now that you might have more time on your hands than usual you might be wondering how to put it to good use – and at the same time be outside in the sun and fresh air.
And for all of you who are not among the lucky lot to call a little plot of land their own: I invite you to enjoy the videos and photos and let them take you on a virtual tour around my garden. Times will change. We will eventually make it through the COVID-19 crisis. And then, get out into our beautiful Mallorcan nature. Enjoy.
A Walk Through My Garden
Mallorca is on coronavirus shutdown, but there is a world outside our narrow four walls
Nature Reborn: Autumn in My Mediterranean Garden
With the first rains of the season, the island explodes in greens and flowers
My Andratx Garden - A Longevity Paradise
Mallorca country life is soothing to the heart, mind and soul. It might even add a few good and healthy years to your lifespan!
Snakes on Mallorca
Yes, I’ve discovered one in my garden. How big is the risk.
Aloe Vera for Beauty and Healing
Heal your skin and boost your health with the queen of Mallorca's healing plants.
The next topics will be:
- How to Plan Your Garden – Use the natural gifts of your land
- Potted Plants – How to create a water-saving paradise on your terrace or balcony
- Stars of the Mediterranean Garden – The plants that work best in my Andratx garden
- A Green Carport – Using natural shrubs and an army surplus camouflage net to shelter your car from the sun
- Create Your Reading Nook – Find the ideal spot in your garden to withdraw and spend time alone
Our ULTIMATE GUIDEs are ongoing projects: It's worth coming back and checking out what's new!
#MediterraneanGardening #GardeningOnMallorca #Andratx #WaterSavingGarden
By Ulla Rahn-Huber
7 April, 2020