Of course, the Algarve boasts colour year round, but April has the strongest punch of colour of any month. March was the first spring planting month, but if you did not get it all done, there is time to catch up in April. April can bring heavy rain interspersed with warm sunny days, speeding growth. Pests also benefit from the increased warmth, so one should pay attention to early control to avoid wreaking infestation later.
This month is a good time to plant most summer annuals and perennials, lawns from seeds, many vegetables, and most trees, shrubs, ground covers and vines. For tropical plants, however, it is better to wait until April or May as they will take off better when warmer.
After all the work required in January, it is nice to realise that February is more a time of waiting and patience. Some pruning can be done now, but wait for warmer weather before cutting back any frost-damaged branches.
This year we held our fifth garden fair on Saturday October 26th to take advantage of the extra hour of sunshine but, we had a particular challenge, to hold our event and to comply with the recent changes in local councils, and national legislation. Everyone involved in the organising is very grateful for the help we received from the newly united Estoi and Conceição Junta and the Horse Association of Estoi. We hope to work with them again in the future. It was very disappointing that we could not return to the Palace Hotel in Estoi but the historic gardens there were so unsafe for public access that it was beyond our resources to prepare them.
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.
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.