Our garden in rural Mallorca is filled with rocks and stones. If we wanted to build a wall or stone garden feature, the raw materials are there, just waiting to be plucked (although that does make the task sound easier than it is) and used in a creative way. We even know of someone who bought some land and built a whole house from the stones on the property!
Stone buildings and walls are found all over rural Mallorca and are evidence of the artisan skills of those who take this raw material and turn it into functional and beautiful things. But it’s not just buildings and walls that are created from the various types of stone that are found on the island: the town of Binissalem – at the heart of one of Mallorca’s two important DO wine production areas – is also an important centre for the craft of creating objects from stone.
A show in stone
We visited Binissalem yesterday for the first day of this weekend’s Fira de la Pedra y l’Artesania – where we saw numerous examples of what can be done with the island’s natural material, when you know what you’re doing with a chisel – and probably a few other tools. When we attend local artisan fairs we quite often buy something small to take home, as we like to support the local economy and particularly those people who are keeping traditional skills alive. Sadly even the smaller items here were a bit too heavy to carry back to the car (on the outskirts of the town), but we came away with lots of business cards . . . and some photos. To inspire The Boss.
Statue in front of the church in Binissalem.
A very solid BBQ
A water feature combining polished and unpolished stone.
Washbasins and a shower tray with style!
When we first moved to Mallorca we brought with us a beautiful rose called ‘Celebration’ – a gift to us from a friend called Judy, with whom I’d worked at the BBC. It had happily been living in a pot in the UK and when we arrived here we located it carefully on the terrace, so that it wouldn’t be subjected to the fiercest heat of the day. Sadly, Judy passed away too early (a victim of cancer) and the lovely rose she’d given us took on a new significance. So we were very sorry to lose her rose as well.
Not knowing a lot about gardening – and roses in particular – I assumed that the climate wasn’t right for roses. But our Swiss neighbours have recently landscaped their finca‘s garden and planted a lot of David Austin roses. Perhaps if I bought roses direct from this renowned rose grower – whose roses are exported around the world – they would survive?
Best of British
It had to be worth a try. I ordered two bare-root climbing roses from the efficient export department of David Austin, on the Shropshire border in the UK. When the roses arrived, through the post, the challenge began. I knew where I wanted them to go: one was to climb an almond tree near the house (where its fragrance would surely drift towards the guest room window); the other would climb the wall on our dining terrace and scent our summer evenings. There was just a small problem. The earth at the bottom of the wall was more rock than soil – and the soil was pretty solid too.
This was another consequence job: as a consequence of buying the rose – the delightfully named ‘Lady Hillingdon’ – The Boss had to create some means of planting it. He duly set about building a raised bed for the ‘lady-in-waiting’, into which we could put some decent soil and compost. And I must say that he did a pretty fantastic job of it. Her Ladyship obviously approved as she’s growing rapidly – and we (or rather The Boss) will have to erect a trellis pretty soon.
Lady Hillingdon in her new home on Mallorca
Something’s been snacking . . .
The other rose – ‘Golden Gate’ – was duly planted (without too much difficulty) at the base of an almond tree. It got off to a great start until I checked it a day or two ago and found that every leaf has been eaten, leaving just a few bare stems. Will it recover? I’m afraid I haven’t a clue!
We have a new neighbour – and a noisy one at that. We first met him while taking a bottle of wine down to our German neighbour Hans, who had recently brought us a large bag of oranges from his land. He often brings us produce but, as we have little in the way of fruit and veg to give him in return – because our soil is so poor – we return the favour by giving him and his wife Inga a bottle of wine. It seems to be a good arrangement.
On the day we took this latest bottle of wine down the lane, we could see Hans walking his dogs down to the field at the bottom where two donkeys are kept. The donkeys’ owner no longer lives in the valley – although he visits frequently – and Hans has taken on the duties of donkey-feeder and carer. He turned around and waved to us to follow him down. And there we met the valley’s newest resident: a gorgeous five-day old donkey foal.
I didn’t have my camera with me at the time so couldn’t take a photo, but resolved to return soon to do so. And, it’s just typical, but every time we went near the large field, the foal was out of sight, close to the trees or sheltering amid the bamboo that grows alongside the stream running through the valley.
However, the youngster obliged us with a sighting a few days ago – and this time I had my camera at the ready. We had our best friends staying from the UK and we all walked down the lane, bearing a few carrot snacks for the proud parents, in the hope that we’d see the youngster. And this time we were lucky: I present to you Salami (yes, I’m afraid that is his name, but thankfully it’s not his destiny), at the tender age of 46 days old.
Salami, sticking close to his mum. And with a name like that, can you blame him?