Friday, December 21, 2012

Winter Solstice.....

...... is the time at which the Sun is appearing at noon at its lowest altitude above the horizon. 

Sunrise at Stonehenge on the Winter Solstice

In the Northern Hemisphere this is the Southern solstice, the time at which the Sun is at its southernmost point in the sky, which usually occurs on December 21 to 22 each year.

In the Southern Hemisphere this is the Northern solstice, the time at which the Sun is at its northernmost point in the sky, which usually occurs on June 20 to 21 each year.

The axial tilt of Earth and gyroscopic effects of the planet's daily rotation keep the axis of rotation pointed at the same point in the sky. 

As the Earth follows its orbit around the Sun, the same hemisphere that faced away from the Sun, experiencing winter, will, in half a year, face towards the Sun and experience summer.

 Since the two hemispheres face opposite directions along the planetary pole, as one polar hemisphere experiences winter, the other experiences summer.

More evident from high latitudes, a hemisphere's winter solstice occurs on the shortest day and longest night of the year, when the sun's daily maximum elevation in the sky is the lowest. 

Since the winter solstice lasts only a moment in time, other terms are often used for the day on which it occurs, such as "midwinter", "the longest night", "the shortest day" or "the first day of winter". 

The seasonal significance of the winter solstice is in the reversal of the gradual lengthening of nights and shortening of days.

Worldwide, interpretation of the event has varied from culture to culture, but most Northern Hemisphere cultures have held a recognition of rebirth, involving holidays, festivals, gatherings, rituals or other celebrations around that time.

 Here at Cortijo Azahar on the Costa Tropical of Andalucia it seems to be summer all year around.

Today, with the temperature a mild 20 degrees, we have celebrated the Solstice by bringing new life into the Garden. 

We have planted  a dark purple Heliotrope, a salmon pink climbing Rose,  some fragrant white Ginger,  Kerria japonica,  Cestrum cultum and Callisia fragrans. 

Callisia fragrans

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Mandevilla x amabilis 'Tango Twirl' .......Thai Rose

Still flowering in the October Garden at Cortijo Azahar is this stunningly beautiful vine.

Originating from Brasil and in the family Apocynaceae this twining evergreen vine displays spectacular, soft pink flowers, with multiple layers of petals forming full, double blossoms.
 Each flower lasts for several days.
 It is an exceptionally vigorous grower with large glossy green leaves.

Mandevilla is endemic to the tropical woodlands of Central and South America. 
The sap can aggravate the skin upon contact, and ingestion of any part of the plant may cause stomach discomfort.

Mandevilla x amabilis 'Tango Twirl'     A spectacular new tropical vine with delicate pink, fully double flowers are held in upright clusters and enhanced by large, deep green, glossy leaves. Blooms continually appear over long season in summer. 
A fabulous vine for tropical shade arbors, spiraling up posts and weaving into treillage. 
Ideal for containers as well.
 Place containers against a vertical surface to grow up, or on an elevated surface where it is free to drape or hang in flower covered tresses.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The narcissistic 'Red Rump Swallow'......

Sadly, we havn't seen him for the past week or so....

We think he was born this Summer,  one of the brood of the pair of Red Rump Swallows who regularly nest in the potting shed in the Cortijo Azahar Garden, as he arrived very early suddenly one morning a few weeks ago up on our top terrace.

 Not having heard or if heard, then not having taken notice of the sounds that these birds make, I initially thought it was one of the green parrots that we see now and again up in the fig tree.
The noise continued and later I saw him perched on a hanging flower pot talking to his reflection in the mirror.

He spent the whole day perched on that flower pot chattering away only flying off for the briefest of times and was back soon after dawn the following morning which caused me to say to 'himself' the bird would surely fade away if he didn't eat properly.

It was love at first sight and back he came, day after day. 

After a while though, it seemed that the lack of response was beginning to dishearten him and his visits didn't last as long as they had been and then he began missing a day but still he came until his last visit a few days ago.......

We do hope that he makes it back safely from wherever he has flown and next summer finds a more responsive mate for himself......


Yesterday Evening just after 8 pm September 14th,  there he was,  perched on the hanging pot and singing away to himself again.    He stayed for at least 5 minutes before flying off to... who knows where.  
We havn't seen any adults flying around for a while now.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Enjoying the Garden.....

 Just been for a swim in the pool.   Me and the ghosts of the recently departed family..... with Dobby acting as life-guard peering out at me disapprovingly through the fronds of the pampas grass on the edge of the pool but for all the world looking like a lion cub waiting to pounce on an unsuspecting sibling.    

 Dobby hates the water; after having twice fallen in during the winter he was very small,  he made sure it didn’t happen a third time.  I dare say he wouldn’t make a very good life-guard.

Both Layla and Dobby love the garden;  love rolling around on the grass and chasing each other around the flower beds although Layla gives up the chase more quickly these days.   
 We are making the most of the garden which is ours only for another fortnight until the next paying visitors arrive.