IF you are going to be an absentee gardener, only visiting your Spanish property for a few weeks of a year,
decide if you want a gardener to tend the garden all year round or just to tidy up before your arrival.
MANY expatriates purchase properties with a garden or space for a future garden, but for some gardening is not one of the most important hobbies so they wisely resort to the use of a gardener for design, redesign and or maintenance work on either a regular or occasional basis.
The extent of work delegated to a paid gardener will depend as said on the extent of one’s interest in gardening, one’s interest in getting closer to nature after many years of working and living in cities and urban areas surrounding historic villages, one’s other activities and of course one’s budget.
Retirees moving to Spain with plenty of leisure time often have an interest in a variety of activities, including flower gardening and growing fruit and vegetables for a healthy diet. Younger people who come here to work may have little time for gardening and there are others young and old who are physically unable to garden. All of us age and the time can come when it becomes difficult or impossible to keep up a large complex garden developed and maintained enthusiastically in earlier years.
If new to Spain it is easy to let enthusiasm for creating a wonderful garden get out of hand and to assume that everything can be done in a year. It can, of course, if one employs a landscape gardener to do the whole job, but this could be expensive. Many expats will prefer to have the fun and satisfaction of creating a new garden from nothing, or perhaps improving an existing one.
In either case, creating a garden that satisfies all their needs will take a good number of years. For one, satisfaction will be the planting of a young two-year-old olive tree and watching it grow and develop its first olives for pickling. For another, satisfaction will be planting the oldest olive tree in the area, perhaps even a millennium or two old, at a cost of up to €8,000 plus transport and the crane for planting it.
Before looking around for a gardener do consider objectively and honestly what yourself and other family members are capable of doing and have time for.
Then consider each of the tasks involved in designing, constructing, planting and maintaining a garden and decide which things your family will want to do fully or partially and what would be best delegated to a paid gardener partially or totally.
Ask these questions in relation to each of the potential tasks listed below.
• Design or redesign of garden.
• Landscaping, including construction of paths, terraces walls and raised beds.
• Development of special features.
• Selecting and purchasing plants.
• Watering, feeding and pest control.
• Raising new plants from cuttings or seeds.
• Ongoing maintenance of flower garden, fruit garden and vegetable garden.
• Care of greenhouse and garden frame.
• Winter cutback.
• Lawn cutting and tree pruning.
• Pool and Jacuzzi cleaning.
If you are going to be an absentee gardener, only visiting your Spanish property for a few weeks or months a year, decide if you want a gardener to tend the garden 52 weeks a year whether you are in Spain or not, or whether you want a gardener to just do a tidy up just before each visit and during your stay.
Whichever route you take aim to end up with a garden you can enjoy.
This article is an extract from a rather longer chapter in the book ‘Your Garden in Spain.’