Two weeks on. The creation of a desert garden

Our front garden this morning

Our front garden this morning

When we moved into our new home two weeks ago, one of our immediate projects was to improve the front garden.
The garden we inherited

The garden we inherited

The builders had covered the soil with black plastic over which they had spread bark chippings to control weeds. They had planted low-maintenance shrubs and trees, such as chusan palms, all far too close together, and bushes of rosemary, thyme and lavender, all of which had sprawled over everything in rampant and untidy clumps.
The same view this morning

The same view this morning

Our first task was to remove the bark, which we did not like, thin out the trees and remove the shrubs.
We then ordered a lorry-load of gravel, which arrived Wednesday evening, and spread this over the ground as a canvas for the new garden.
Shadows cast on the gravel

Shadows cast on the gravel

The gravel is almost white and the strong sun creates sharp shadows, making striking leafy patterns under the plants.
Red rocks and yellow blocks

Red rocks and yellow blocks

In the builders’ yard, we noticed some square, yellow, concrete blocks and bought some of these to stack as tall planters. We also noted nearby that some large red rocks had been dumped by a rubbish skip so we loaded some of these into the car as we thought they would make attractive features, too.
Palm and prickly pear without prickles

Palm and prickly pear without prickles

The palms, with their spiky, fanned leaves, as well as other sharp-leaved plants, needed to be balanced by the softening effect of round-leaved plants.
Palms and succulents

Palms and succulents

We spent at least an hour at Nijar Cactus, the local specialists in desert plants, and selected a number of unusual and attractive succulents, including some lovely, pink-tinted echeverias, from Mexico. We also bought a couple of tall cacti for a dramatic effect, and a variety of prickly pear which has no thorns; its leaves have the texture of velvet.
Another view of the garden

Another view of the garden

We already had plenty of pots and other small cacti which we brought with us from our previous homes, so over the last few days we have been busy arranging the front garden.
Various shapes of cacti

Various shapes of cacti

Because water is so expensive in Almeria, and the climate so arid, we have tried to create a low- maintenance desert garden with cacti, palms and succulents. Cacti need very little water and succulents are watered every ten days or so.
The swimming pool today

The swimming pool today

In the meantime, work on the swimming-pool in the back garden is nearly complete. On Monday the workers will return to lay the terrace both around and below the pool, so we hope to be swimming in it by Thursday. We will then begin creating a garden in this area of our plot.
The kitchen

The kitchen

Inside the house, the new kitchen has been fitted and the large and ….
The living room

The living room

…. the light living room is ideal for displaying my paintings.

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About Margaret Merry

I grew up in Falmouth, Cornwall, England where, after leaving Falmouth High School, I spent a year at Falmouth School of Art. Then followed three years at Hornsey College of Art in London where I obtained a Diploma in Art and Design. I then spent a post-graduate year at the West of England College of Art in Bristol where I gained an Art Teacher?s Diploma and a Certificate in Education of the University of Bristol. I lived and worked in Truro for over 30 years and became one of Cornwall's most popular artists. My paintings have been exhibited in New York, Tokyo, Paris and London and have been bought by collectors from all over the world. I have published 4 books which became local bestsellers - 'The Natural History of a Westcountry City', 'Margaret Merry's Cornish Garden Sketchbook', 'Sea & Sail' and 'Tidal Reaches'. In 2002 I moved to Spain and now live in the little coastal village of Las Negras in the heart of the Parque Natural de Cabo de Gata. I now get my inspiration from the dramatic scenery of Andalucia and its old cities, towns and villages which I usually capture in watercolour. I also enjoy figurative art, particularly nudes and dancers. For these paintings I use artists' soft pastels. I have written and illustrated 3 children's books - The Wise Old Boar, The Lonely Digger and The Adventure of Princess The Pony - which have been published in the USA.
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2 Responses to Two weeks on. The creation of a desert garden

  1. Angela says:

    All looks great,Good luck and happiness in your new home,don’t work to hard!

  2. I love !!!! your cacti garden and red kitchen !!!

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