October/November: The end of summer and the first rains

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Marilyn

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October/November: The end of summer and the first rains
« on: November 02, 2011, 04:23:24 PM »
I moved to Portugal in September 2008, so I have just got through my third mediterranean climate summer and am heading into my fourth autumn here. With each summer, I appreciate a little more the reduced palette of dark greens, baked silvers and terracotta soils. Dried seedheads are always a delight; they last longer than flowers too, indoors or out. Below is a photo taken a few weeks ago of Lagurus ovatus and a snapdragon-y annual (whose name is something like Billardia). These areas have now been strimmed to make way for the new season's growth.

I would like to share a little of the "first rain magic" that is happening in the garden right now. Here, it started raining last week - the first significant rain since early May. With the exception of one day with a heavy rain shower in August and one at the beginning of September, the weather has been nearer 30º than not and clear skies. Now it is full-on equinoctial gales - winds that ripped the roof off Faro airport and left some places without electricity... but the rain has been really quite nicely arranged - a mixture of short heavy showers and more prolonged drizzle, allowing the water to soak in slowly and not just run off the surface into floods.

Within a week of this first good soaking, areas that had long ago turned dry and brown are now covered in seed leaves. The wild blue lupin (I believe this is Lupinus micranthus, syn. L. hirsutus) is popping up all over the place, along with L. angustifolius. The big yellow and white daisy, Chrysanthemum coronarium, and Galactites tomentosum, the pinky-mauve thistle with beautifully marbled leaves, are well on their way. In the herb garden, baby borages are coming up like cress.

The effect on native shrubs is remarkable. Cistus crispus, reduced to bundles of twigs in summer with barely the tiniest point of green at its tips, is now sporting vibrant green leaves two to three centimetres long. The few leaves of C. albidus and Phlomis purpurea that remained in summer had become heavily felted and held close to the stems; now these have expanded and multiplied into luxuriant fronds and are gaining volume daily.

I would be fascinated to hear when you all had your first rains, and what they have brought with them.
« Last Edit: November 03, 2011, 01:17:58 PM by Alisdair »
I work in hotel and private gardens, promoting sustainable landscape management in the mediterranean climate through the use of diverse, beautiful and appropriate plants. At home, I garden on two balconies containing mostly succulents.

pamela

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Re: The end of summer and the first rains
« Reply #1 on: November 02, 2011, 11:35:46 PM »
Hello Marilyn
I enjoyed your post.  Our rains started 2 weeks ago, the first since May.  Overnight the Aloe arborescens began its flowering journey and the spikes are everywhere, although we won't see the full flowers till beginning of January.  Tulbagia violacea var. alba has had a new lease of life with many flowers.  The Hibiscus as also become more dramatic and lush and ground cover Vinca difformis is showing delicate leaves of pale green.  We have lots of bulbs peeking out of the now damp earth...and everything smells different .....
I planted 100 Muscari armeniacum.
Jávea, Costa Blanca, Spain
Min temp 5c max temp 38c  Rainfall 550 mm 

"Who passes by sees the leaves;
 Who asks, sees the roots."
     - Charcoal Seller, Madagascar

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MikeHardman

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Re: The end of summer and the first rains
« Reply #2 on: November 03, 2011, 08:55:57 AM »
'First rains' postings began here - http://www.mgsforum.org/smf/index.php?topic=327.0
Mike
Geologist by Uni training, IT consultant, Referee for Viola for Botanical Society of the British Isles, commissioned author and photographer on Viola for RHS (Enc. of Perennials, The Garden, The Plantsman).
I garden near Polis, Cyprus, 100m alt., on marl, but have gardened mainly in S.England

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Alisdair

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October/November: The end of summer and the first rains
« Reply #3 on: November 03, 2011, 01:17:16 PM »
Thanks, Marilyn and Pamela - just the sort of thing we want to see here in the month-by-month pictorial guide to our gardens. (now some pictures of the burgeoning plants, please!)
Alisdair Aird
Gardens in SE England (Sussex); also coastal Southern Greece, and (in a very small way) South West France; MGS member (and former president); vice chairman RHS Lily Group, past chairman Cyclamen Society

Daisy

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Re: October/November: The end of summer and the first rains
« Reply #4 on: November 04, 2011, 10:44:33 AM »
Autumn in Crete
     Yesterday morning, the sun was shining after three days of the first rains. I travelled in to the local town early, whilst the sun was still low in the sky.
It was magical. The whole place looked  as though the gods had come down during the night to touch the island.
Everything looked freshly washed and polished.
Looking down onto the olive groves, it looked like a molten silver lake, with the sun glinting on the tops of the trees as they moved in a slight breeze, making them look like little waves moving across.
The cupressus and pine trees stood out, dressed now in a richer, deeper green than I had ever seen them in before.
Every leaf and blossom of the oleanders glistened and stood out against the sky as though every one had been separately etched by hand.
As we passed through the villages, the bright colours of the bouganvilleas and the hibiscus had an added brilliancy, so that it almost hurt the eyes to look at them.
Bright splashes of colour came from the pyracanthas and virginia creeper along the road. Even the grasses, which all summer, had stood brown and sere, now, were spun from filaments of bronze and copper.

I have always said, that rain is magical. You can water your garden all summer, but it never looks as it does after rain.
Daisy
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I posted the above, a little while ago on the local, expat web site.
The first response it received, was from a wag who simply posted,"Did you get what you went into town for?"
Priceless! ;D ;D ;D
Daisy :)
Amateur gardener, who has gardened in Surrey and Cornwall, England, but now has a tiny garden facing north west, near the coast in north east Crete. It is 300 meters above sea level. On a steep learning curve!!! Member of both MGS and RHS

pamela

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Re: October/November: The end of summer and the first rains
« Reply #5 on: November 07, 2011, 07:41:05 PM »
I haven't had a chance to get my camera out yet  Alisdair! Too much to do!
Jávea, Costa Blanca, Spain
Min temp 5c max temp 38c  Rainfall 550 mm 

"Who passes by sees the leaves;
 Who asks, sees the roots."
     - Charcoal Seller, Madagascar

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Marilyn

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Re: October/November: The end of summer and the first rains
« Reply #6 on: November 07, 2011, 11:34:44 PM »
Lovely images, Daisy; I can really picture the sort of morning you mean. :)
And Pamela, I came on here this evening to say the same thing! More precisely, now that the rain is taking a breather, I took the camera to work today but, by the time I got round to going for my photography walk it was 5pm and the sun had already dropped below the buildings and vegetation (if not the horizon) - it was somewhat startling to be reminded in this way that we are so close to the solstice already. Will try again tomorrow, Alisdair!
I work in hotel and private gardens, promoting sustainable landscape management in the mediterranean climate through the use of diverse, beautiful and appropriate plants. At home, I garden on two balconies containing mostly succulents.

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MikeHardman

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Re: October/November: The end of summer and the first rains
« Reply #7 on: November 14, 2011, 09:11:17 AM »
Lots of rain here the last few days; tested my drainage system nicely; more greening-up in progress
Mike
Geologist by Uni training, IT consultant, Referee for Viola for Botanical Society of the British Isles, commissioned author and photographer on Viola for RHS (Enc. of Perennials, The Garden, The Plantsman).
I garden near Polis, Cyprus, 100m alt., on marl, but have gardened mainly in S.England