You Can’t Fool The Fig Tree: The Secret to Winter Gardening

winter gardening, almond trees

“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.”

~ Audrey Hepburn

Dear Lovelies, in my eagerness to start planting a vegetable garden and beautify the village house I will be moving to for a short while, I was talking with a lady in the village about when the frosts stop, apparently successful winter gardening is about knowing when the last frost has visited!

I’m on a new learning curve to understand Mother Nature and her infinite knowledge. I’m a beginner all over again and I know the road will be littered with the broken bodies of seedlings planted too close together, with tomato stakes that are too small and not strong enough to withhold the plants, with gardenias that once held so much promise beg for a sunnier or shadier position.

I wish I had asked my Father more questions about the right conditions to plant tomatoes or peas, what makes a gardenia thrive and how do I get jasmine to climb ‘tout suite’ up a wall that needs some love and beauty?

Almond tree in bloom

The ladies in the village are my mentors as well as my Mum on the phone from the other side of the world. One of the ladies shared with me that you can be fooled by the blooming of the almond trees thinking the frosts are done but a local farmer once told her, ‘You can’t fool the fig tree!’

I loved this snippet of wisdom; I loved the fig tree a whole lot more. Not only do they deliver one of my favourite Summer fruits but they are the weather forecaster or I like to think of as the weather oracle. How is it possible that an early Spring can fool one tree but not another? 

Right now the almond trees are in bloom and they fill the skies with upside-down couture gowns, the height of femininity that is the first flutter of light pink in a sea of brown branches and bows. They bring with it the hope of sunny days ahead and a swim at the local beach and of course an almond harvest.

When I show the ladies my bags of seeds, jasmine pots, gardenias, and carnations (for my Dad, his favourite flower), they laugh with mirth, not the kind to make me feel bad but the kind of laughter that is infectious and tells me I am doing something drastically wrong. I laugh along too.

The fig tree has spoken and what a joy it is to start planting!

Apparently, I have enough seeds to cover a couple of fields, not a small Greek village garden plot and they insist it’s too soon for the gardenias and jasmine. I have fantasies of covering a cement wall and some chicken wire as soon as I can but the village ladies just shake their heads.

So I embrace ‘the beginner’s mentality’; I ask questions, listen, try to understand when there is no English to be had, I laugh at myself for my lack of winter gardening knowledge and I wait for the fig tree to give us a sign, a tender green shoot. Each day as I walk around the village on my way to feed the cats, I check the fig trees along the way. They are everywhere, in abandoned houses, in almost every garden, and growing wild along the sides of the stone village paths. I talk to them, I ask them how long do we have to wait? Are the frosts nearly finished? Have they enjoyed the Winter? Am I annoying them? My apologies that I only knew them intimately through the scent of a Diptyque candle.

I have so much to learn, I want to understand nature and the seasons, I want to go to my grave having communed with nature, learned from her, sat beside her, helped her, wondered at her, and thanked her for her generosity.

For many years, I have lived in a big city, disconnected from the earth, but now it’s my daily joy to learn one piece of information at a time, slowly, slowly waiting for the fig tree to shoot new buds, and then I will have Mother Nature’s green light to start my planting in my garden.

Blooming trees

Please feel free to leave me a comment with any winter gardening tips you may have or any other Mother Nature pearls of wisdom that may be useful on the road ahead. I am all ears!

Love and light,

Carla x

 

P.S. If you’d like to read more posts like this, you can join my list and you’ll receive updates via email. You can join here.

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Rachel Vogeleisen
2 months ago

Dear Carla, I have goose bumps reading this. This post is so full of happiness and joy. I never thought I would like to have a garden, and I would be even beyond the beginner., but now I want my plot of land too! You give me so much joy reading about your life in Greece you feel 100% aligned with what you want in life. Keep sharing!

Julie Entwistle
Julie Entwistle
2 months ago

I adore this post Carla! I’m starting the same journey.. a garden for tomorrow & future generations on an old Australian merino sheep station! Loving your joie de vivre 🌳xxx

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Mary Manolopoulou
Mary Manolopoulou
2 months ago

What an inspiration you are, dear Carla!! As we now share similar land conditions, regarding climate aspect, I have a suggestion: now is the time of year to plant strawberries, if you like, so as to harvest in May. I d love to know your progress in gardening- it’s inspiring!!!xxx

Last edited 2 months ago by Mary Manolopoulou
Jilly
2 months ago

Dearest Carla, As you know gardens are soul savers, life savers. I laughed when you spoke of the local women and flowers. I have had the same reaction here. For the villagers and the country folk around, land is for growing food even tho you do see some flowers. But probably carnations are beyond imagination. I have learned, in this particular Mediterranean climate to plant what is local, what is at home. Some people here try to create, for example, an ‘English’ garden and of course it’s a battle and often doesn’t work. REalise that is not your plan, of course. Send me privately your Greek address. I have some really helpful books on Mediterranean gardening, one on ‘dry gardening’ being a garden that is planted not to need extra water once it is established – there’s a lot of basic and amazingly helpful stuff there. Would love to pass these on to you. Hugs J xxx

Sarah Hudson
2 months ago

Oh Carla, Carla, Carla. I nearly wept reading your blog. You sound calmer and yet more excited than I’ve ever heard you. I’m beyond happy you’ve found your place … your next chapter. You are truly living in alignment now.
I’m not a gardener but now I’m living in the sub tropics I know I’m in the wrong place. My soul is starved. I long for blossom and fig trees, flowers and autumn leaves. I miss my Mediterranean garden with its gigantic olive tree and wild and gnarly fig . I’ve known this for a while but your courage and truth speak to me today. I need to find my home as you have done. Thank you for the reminder and happy gardening! 🌸