August – September is one of the most critical times in Lanzarote gardens, a time when you can’t afford to take your eye off the ball. If you do get it right, however, you won’t regret it.
First published in Gazette Life, August 1st 2020.
Under the elements
The first thing to bear in mind this month is the weather. To put it simply: it doesn’t rain in Lanzarote in August. Any water your plants get this month will come from the morning dew, if you live in a higher area, or from you and a watering can or a hose.
And they’ll need it. The sun is scorching and bakes the earth hard and dry, but there can still be breezes that strip the moisture from leaves and petals in a moment. Hang out your washing on a sunny, windy day to get an idea of how effective the combination is.
So, water them lavishly, but also be sure to watch that breeze. Once in a while hairdryer winds can come from Africa, and when this happens you need to move plants or just chuck an old sheet over them. If a plant is normally in a fairly breezy place, try and get it more shelter just for the next couple of months. Be kind.
And don’t just be kind to plants. Place a few upside-down jam jar lids in shady spots on the ground and fill them up with water for lizards, birds and other creatures in your garden that could use moisture – it may keep them from seeking moisture by nibbling or pecking your plants.
Ask garden centres for ideas for windbreaks, shade solutions or portable containers, and give your plants a chance this August.
The right time
Even in the heat of a Lanzarote August, some plants thrive as long as they’re well cared for. This is a terrific time to reap the benefits of tomatoes, chillies, lettuces and courgettes; and herbs such as thyme, basil, mint and oregano – which exist to convert sunshine into flavour will never be more headily fragrant.
Fruits such as plums and peaches are at their best now, while malvasia grapes are now perfect for the table- sweeter and less tart than when they’re harvested for this year’s wine vintage. Melons can be cut and stored, and Lanzarote’s fig trees are bearing their wonderfully ripe and delicious burden. If you have any of these plants in your garden, you’ll have work to do – watering, fertilising, protecting and checking for pests. But the rewards will be worth it.
Most gardeners don’t do it for the fruit and veg, though – although those are wonderful bonuses. They do it because your garden is a unique place where nature is allowed to flourish in controlled conditions.
The rewards for a Lanzarote gardener can be almost inexpressible this month – the sheer wonder of saving a stricken plant from dying may be nothing in the grand scheme of things, but every gardeners knows the fulfillment it can bring.
It’s a time when you learn to live right alongside your plants, caring for them day in day out, watching their flowers open as the sun sets and smelling the fragrance they set loose on the night air. It’s when you watch some of them get plump and glossy or explode in riotous colour, while others lie low and take it easy.
And it’s a time when, in morning or evening, you can do what your plants do, and live life to the utmost in your garden.