Second half of August

I have been in Corfu for two weeks now, and it is the first year that it begins to look like a garden. Different shades of green, different shapes, and the unbeatable background of the sea, the sky, and the distant mountains of ALbania. Albania appears so different to Corfu, no olive groves or cypresses, just a very rugged coastline, not particularly pretty, and two towns that seem to consist of tower blocks, with none of the Venetian influence that Corfu offers. You can imagine all the brigands lurking in the interior. We have been coming here for twenty years and we still have not been to Albania, though my younger son Thomas has swum there and back. What is it about Corfu that weaves it’s magic. It is incredibly green in comparison to the parched brown look of other islands. This is because of a very high rainfall in the winter, and the Venetians paying gold coins to the Corfiots to plant the olive trees. So winter on this Island features the.glowing aquamarine colour of the olive trees, and it attracted artists , Edward Lear among others, who were spellbound by the beauty and the light.
Over this last ten years I would say that I have succeeded with about sixty per cent of what I have planted. The prostrate rosemary, cypresses.V. X Oleanders, westrigeas, podranea ricasoliana. Lemon trees, deep blue plumbago, bay, tecomaria capensis, which is. South African honeysuckle, orange and flowers for three months late on. One of the stars is tulbaghia violace a, flowers all summer and autumn, and comes through the winter. Bourganvillea can get frosted with me, the common one is tougher, and pittosporum tobira. My orange trees are pitiful after ten years, and fruit at Christmas when we are not here. There was nothing when we came, not even cypresses, only untended olive trees. We have thousands of cyclamen in the Autumn, and are trying to establish sternbergias. In February we have plenty of the iris the mourning widow. She is beautiful and looks like a mourning widow. I cannot grow geraniums, and am not hugely successful with lavender. We have substituted myrtle instead of lavender. My neighbour, Robin Gourlay did the same thing, and his myrtle is huge already. He is next door to the sea, and I am much higher. He has a tree with a lot of avocados, all grown from a pip. Impressive.

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