Dedication to gardening and al fresco dining

Gardening probably remains the number one retirement pastime for those living in Spain.

The main motivation for those that care and garden with passion is to have a garden they are proud of.

In the 70’s and 80’s inexpensive air conditioning was not available, so one purchased a property in a situation with natural shade from mature trees and natural seasonal breezes and one organised working time and siesta time, as the Spaniards did, around the pattern of the hottest and coolest hours.

For us, during the hottest summer and winter hours a deep covered terrace outside the kitchen and winter dining room was important to comfortable family and invited guest entertainment.

The photo shows us enjoying tapas with Spanish friends on our covered terrace.

In the early years we also often entertained smaller groups in the shade of a maturing carob tree and under a large umbrella.

But umbrellas don’t last forever and not long at all if left out in all weathers, especially if unexpected gales blow up. Also none of these situations were ideal when cooking paellas on a gas ring, as few days have no wind. So temperature control was not ideal.

The answer was to construct a dedicated shaded facility to celebrate the publication of my book ‘Authentic Valencian Paellas’, which has started to sell more copies in the USA than in Spain.

The kitchen has proved excellent for paellas of all sizes and also North African tagines and griddled fish and meats.

Naturally the siting of such facilities is important within the colourful structure of plants, shrubs and trees.

The choice of plants varies from gardener to gardener and many have been through that tempting stage of let’s have one of everything with insufficient regard to their natural source and moisture shade and frost protection needs.

But more about that next week.

© Dick Handscombe January 2015.

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