Gardening in Portugal – A blank canvas?

When I was a teacher, I always loved the start of the new term. It  seemed to present such an opportunity for new promise, creativity and achievement. Halfway through the term though, I was often on my knees with exhaustion, wondering why I ever became a teacher at all in the face of such a workload!  But this new garden and this new phase in my life won’t be like this. I am resolute! I want each gardening day to be a delight, not a tedious chore. And so I have to make the garden pleasant and easy to work; easy to manage and fun to create, with just enough work to keep me happy but not so much that I feel over burdened.

But sometimes it looks like a bigger challenge than I can deal with and friends and family shake their heads ominously and say “A lot of work here. How are you going to manage?”

Quando era professora, sempre amei o início do novo turma. Parecia apresentar grande oportunidades para novas promessas, criatividade e realização. No meio do turma, porém, estava muitas vezes de joelhos com exaustão, perguntava-me  porque me turnei uma professora em face de tal carga de trabalho! Mas este novo jardim e esta nova fase da minha vida não será assim. Estou   resoluto! Quero que cada dia de jardinagem seja uma delícia, e não uma tarefa tedio.

Assim  tenho que fazer o jardim agradável e fácil de trabalhar;  fácil de gerir  e divertido de criar, com apenas o suficiente trabalho para me manter feliz, mas não tanto que me sinto sobrecarregado.
As vezes parece no entanto um desafio maior com que posso lidar, e os amigos e familiares agitam as cabeças duvidosamente dizem: “Há muito trabalho aqui, como é que tu vais suportar?”


Here is the good news and the bad news then. The good news is much of the hard landscaping is already done. There are walls all around and a fence on top, terraces at the back and many mature trees.

The bad news is that the soil is very poor, heavy heavy red clay with some more limey clay  and lots of stones.

The good news is that I have some flat land at the bottom of the garden. The bad news is I have a lot of slope.

The good news is I have a large cisterna which collects all the rainwater from the house and mains water. The bad news is we often have drought for four months of the year and then periods of very heavy rainfall. The temperatures are often over 30 degrees for prolonged periods in the Summer and we are on an exposed hillside with very strong winds.

The good news is my husband and I are still fit and healthy. The bad news is we are in our fifties and therefore racing against time to get things sorted out.

But to me, it is my Mount of Olives, and I intend to turn it into a Paradise.

Aqui está as boa notícias e as más notícias tamben. A boa notícia é que muito do paisagismo difícil já está feito. Há paredes em volta e um sebo em cima, terraços na parte de trás e muitas árvores maduras.

A má notícia é que o solo é muito pobre, barro  vermelho pesado com um pouco mais de cal e muitas pedras. A boa notícia tambem é que eu tenho alguma terra plana no fundo do jardim. A má notícia é que eu tenho no resto, uma encosta. A boa notícia é que eu tenho uma cisterna grande querecolhe toda a água da chuva da casa e água da rede. A má notícia é que muitas vezes temos seca duraate quatro meses do ano e, em seguida, períodos de chuvas muito intensas. As temperaturas são muitas vezes mais de 30 graus por períodos prolongados no verão e estamos numa encosta exposta com ventos muito fortes. A boa notícia é que meu marido e eu ainda estamos emforma e saudável. A má notícia é que estamos em nossos cinqüentas  e, portanto, corrida contra o tempo para resolver as coisas.
Mas para mim, é o meu Monte das Oliveiras, e eu pretendo transformá-lo em num paraiso.

Nikki & Len's new house

Or perhaps I should just leave it. Because this is what happened to it last Spring. But more of that in the next post.

Ou talvez devia dexia como está, porque e o que aconteceu na primavera passada no proximo.






5 thoughts on “Gardening in Portugal – A blank canvas?

  1. Good luck! Seems like you’ve thought things through carefully and know what you want. Plus, there’s a lot to be said for going slow and keeping things natural. I think you’ll find some of your negatives are positives too; clay has lots of nutrients (much better than sandy soil), and managed slope makes a garden more engaging. I look forward to hearing more.


  2. Thanks for your encouragement and for emphasising the positives! Its is true the clay is fertile, otherwise I don’t think the wonderful wild flowers would grow in such abundance. The wild spinach is a bit of a nuisance though!


  3. I’ve just found your blog and will be very interested to follow along – so much of what you are saying is familiar! We moved into our new (to us) home in Central Portugal in November and I dream of turning it into a productive organic haven. After a few months of heavy rain though, I’m looking a sticky quagmire and the hot, dry weather seems a long way away! We have most of the same good news/bad news as you do, including the family who all commented on how much work we have ahead of us.

    I’m a novice gardener so am looking forward to shamelessly stealing all your advice! Thank you for sharing it.



  4. Thankyou very much for reading my blog. I am new to blogging too and feel very honoured that my musings are being read! I see it as a kind of replacement for allotment gardening…I learnt so much from my neighbours and am hoping to learn from other gardeners embarking on this adventure. I see you have a blog which I am going to have a look at now. please keep in touch and let me know how things are going and share what you have learnt too. Warm regards.


  5. Hi Sarah,Thanks for reading my blog! I hope you are enjoying the sunnier weather now and that the quagmire can be worked. I have been out digging and planting as the quagmire is cracking and drying rapidly…drop by and let me know how things are going!


Please talk to me. I am struggling here!

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