Second spring arrives on Mallorca

Ooh, I do love September in rural Mallorca. After the intense heat of July and August, temperatures are pleasant enough to do some gardening and other outdoor jobs, without us turning lobster-like under the blazing sun.  And as summer morphs into autumn towards the end of the month, something magical happens on Mallorca: it’s what the locals call ‘winter-spring’. Not being a fan of the ‘w’ word, I prefer to call it second spring. And that’s just what it’s like.

Flora bursts back into life

After the late summer storms, which bring much-needed rain to the land, everything in the garden that looked as though it had given up the struggle for survival perks up again. The leaves of the aloe vera plants – we have 17 around the place – have plumped up again, all ready for any first aid duties they may have to fulfil. Shrubs such as the Lantana burst back into flower, dotting our largely green garden with splashes of orange, yellow, and pink, and the lavender plants are poised to produce more flowers.  And, as I mentioned in my last post, the weeds are back to remind me that last year’s back-breaking efforts to remove them finally were a waste of my time.

And fauna too

As I write this – with the doors open to the garden terrace – I can hear recently born lambs crying for their mums in the field across the road. It sounds, as well as looks, like spring out there.

And the butterflies are back in abundance. Which prompted me to spend rather more time than I should have trying to take some photos of them; butterflies, by the way, do not make co-operative photographic models.

Success at last

Success at last

For all the above reasons, and a few more, I enjoy second spring nearly as much as the first one. Except that it doesn’t hold the promise of summer just around the corner . . .

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Trying to prevent weeds in the Mallorcan garden

The Boss deals with the intricate task of cutting the membrane to fit the space.

The Boss deals with the intricate task of cutting the membrane to fit the space.

Weeds are just plants that you didn’t want. I’m not sure who said that, but it has stayed in the recesses of my mind – only to come to the fore again after the recent heavy rains on Mallorca. The plants – those we’d wanted – perked up considerably after a soaking, but there are also early signs of the plants we don’t want, that will blight our garden from autumn through until early next summer. The soil that was baked brown and rock-hard all summer, now has a just-visible green mantle: weeds. Oh joy.

But more annoying than the weeds growing around the plants we do want are the weeds that grow in the gravel path. And this year we’re determined to stop the blighters coming up.

Beach babies

Which is why I’ve been bringing out my inner navvy (who knew?). The Boss and I are in the process of renewing the path that leads down to the powerhouse – and I’m wielding the shovel.

The original gravel we put down was the Mallorcan sandstone known as mares. It was relatively inexpensive and therefore our first choice, given that we had plenty of other bills to pay at the time.

However, being sandstone, in the course of a few years that gravel had turned into . . . a beach! The cats loved it – rolling around contentedly in the stuff. The humans, meanwhile, were repeatedly treading it into the house. Something had to be done.

A material girl

So The Boss and I are in the process of scraping away all the sandstone, removing signs of any weeds-in-waiting, then laying down sheets of green material that I hope will prevent the weeds growing through (whilst allowing water to drain through). Then we’re covering these sheets with new gravel – proper stones this time.

It’s hard work. I’m currently the one wielding the shovel, moving stones from the back of the trailer to the ground. The Boss is on slightly lighter duties; he unfortunately sustained a hernia during a previous DIY exercise and soon goes into hospital to have all his bits pushed back into their correct place. I’m not complaining about the work: all the twisting and turning, wielding a stone-laden shovel can only be good for the waistline, can’t it?

The people in the DIY shop were very confident in the weed-proofing powers of the  material we bought. I didn’t like to tell them that, six months after proper tarmac was laid down on the lane past our finca, weeds were sprouting defiantly through the black stuff . . .