The talk of this winter has surely been how strange it is – very warm, loads of sunshine, high temperatures and no rain! It´s been idyllic - but very bad for the campo, as any Spanish neighbour will tell you, and, of course, bad for us gardeners too, ultimately at least. Trees had no sooner dropped their leaves, reluctantly, than they were budding up again and ready to burst into leaf anew. As I write, roses are still full of flower. Spring-flowering bulbs are super early. And our gardens are still full of tomatoes and chillies! More menacingly, bugs are still rampant; the cochineal beetle on the prickly pear cactus is the perfect example of this. They reached plague proportions during the hot summer of 2015 and there has been no cold weather to kill them off so they just carry on breeding and breeding. For other creatures like frogs, toads, slugs and snails it´s been a bad year. Whimsical it certainly is and curious and fickle; there is much talk of evidence of climatic change, El Niño and cloud-bursting planes sending all the rain up to the north of Spain to better look after their crops! (Ironically Andalucía has the biggest area under irrigation so is, consequently, better able to look after its crops without rain). 2015 throughout Spain was the fourth hottest year ever registered and we certainly had our fair share of the heat; Spain was, on average, one degree warmer and with 20% less rain. So, as responsible citizens and avid gardeners, what should we be doing to counteract this capricious weather? Well, obviously, the first thing is to get out there and enjoy it - because who knows what is around the corner and, in another month, we may all be moaning about howling gales, cold and torrential rain! But many of you have been asking me when to prune so let´s see how best to help our plants through these strange conditions. I´d say that rest periods must be enforced; treat your plants like wayward children and send them to bed! So, if you haven´t already done it, prune your roses hard and your deciduous fruit trees too and get it done now - you really can´t delay any longer. Plants have to have a rest period or growth will weaken and crops will be poor; they just cannot find the energy to keep going. It´s a bit like jet lag in ourselves – crossing time and weather zones: we feel weary and very out-of-sorts! The same goes for deciduous climbers – grapevines and wisteria should have already been pruned but, if you haven´t done them, then do it now but with care. Look out for the fat flower buds on wisteria and leave them alone but cut away all wispy growth. It may be that, if this unseasonable weather continues, new growth will follow almost immediately. Then if we get a really cold snap it could burn, but I think we have to take the risk. It´s always possible to trim and tidy any cold-affected growth in spring. Evergreen plants, too, should be trimmed over though, if you prefer, this can be left a little longer – into late February or early March. Although it´s dry, if you can water carry on planting as much as possible so as not to lose another year. Remember that it can often be very wet even after Easter so there´s still plenty of time to get back to normal water levels. With the soil still relatively warm, new plantings will root in quickly. And let´s just hope that, by the time you read this, the rain will be doing its essential job in our gardens and the thirsty earth opens its gasping mouth to savour every drop of it. Maybe we will do the same when the rain eventually comes! New Stock: We have bare-root almonds in stock and almond trees are like gold dust at the moment, so numbers are very limited. Variety Guara: A Spanish variety of medium vigour and size, somewhat sparsely branched. Produces long nuts of medium size. Will set a good crop without cross-pollinisation and is a late flowerer, avoiding frosts; hence it is becoming very popular commercially. Flowers white, flushed pink. Viveros Florena – Probably the best little garden centre in Andalucía! Keep checking our web page for latest news and exciting new stock arriving at the garden centre. Join our mailing list to keep in constant touch. Shop on-line with us for unusual plants, plug plants, scented roses, bulbs, coloured iris, organic products and my books. Winter Hours, October to May: 10 – 4, closed Sundays & Mondays. Summer Hours, June, July & September: 9 – 2, closed Sundays & Mondays and August. Viveros Florena, Crtra. Algarrobo/Cómpeta, km 2, Cómpeta, 29754, Málaga Tel: 689928201 Web: www.viverosflorena.com Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. And see us on Facebook – Lorraine Cavanagh's Garden Centre

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