December is a low-key month when it comes to work in the garden, particularly if you have already completed all the autumn tasks.
What an amazing day we had on Saturday, but, thank goodness we had sunshine - many of those attending remembered the deluges of 2012 at the same venue, so it was a great bonus to have good weather this year.
This was our first major event under the banner of our newly registered Portuguese association - The Mediterranean Gardening Association. The new group has fiscal and legal status and removes the concern of being challenged about our activities.
November is the time to finish off all the autumn projects, such as planting and clearing out. If the expected rains arrive, they will provide a bit of a natural clean-up but you should be prepared by having tidied up old beds.
Shrubs and young treesIf any are growing in the wrong places, from now through to January is the best time to relocate them.
A new practical guide to the Invasive Plants of Portugal has been published
There is still a lot of confusion, ignorance and just downright bad advice flying around about invasive plants but it is a subject well worth investigating, and it is fascinating to see how some plants have taken extravagant advantage of us humans and our urge to try new things from other countries in our gardens!
This month, like March, is a pivotal month for refocusing, this time on winter. The more effort extended now should equal less work later. The idea of autumn planting is to beat the major winter rains so that roots establish over winter while benefiting from soil still warm.
Now is also the time to clear out all the old summer annuals and vegetables, tidy up perennials, and to prune, transplant, divide and mulch.
September is one of the busiest garden months and heralds the switch from summer-blooming flowers to winter and spring ones and from warm-season to cool-season vegetables.
As the weather can still be very hot, start slowly by cutting down faded flowers and vegetables and preparing the ground for the best planting month of the year, October. Continue to water deeply, early in the day or in the evening. Check drought-resistant plants for signs of stress. One deep watering now can tide them, trees and shrubs over until the winter rains and help protect them from disease attack.
Another month to relax and enjoy your garden, although there are some projects the keen gardener can undertake.
As in July, the crucial task is providing sufficient water to plants. The neediest plants are lawns (but not Bermuda or zoysia), vegetables, some annuals and some perennial shade flowers.
Many plants in containers are likely to need water daily.
July is another good month for enjoying the garden rather than for planting owing to the heat. The most important task now through to September is ensuring plants have sufficient water. Except for several native plants and well-established drought-resistant plants, all plants need regular watering.
Water large trees deeply but infrequently to encourage deep roots, but avoid watering almond, olive, carob or fig trees. Allow the soil to dry somewhat between watering as this will allow air to get into the soil and give oxygen to the roots. The best time to water is early in the day.