Spring has most definitely sprung in sunny Spain

I can remember a snowfall as late as May 5 in Toronto. That was 20 years ago, and I made a snowman on the day although it melted the very next day. Back then, no one knew much about global warming or polar vortices, but the snow just kept coming, well within the margins of statistical possibility in a country where it can and often does snow between October and May – 8 frigid months inclusive. It’s a life more suited for penguins although to paraphrase Matthew (and my dad), in Canada many are cold but few are frozen.

In Gijón, the only snow is in the nearby Picos de Europa, still visible on the mountain tops as late as mid May. And yet it’s a bubbly 20 degrees down on the beach or even an occasional 25. Light fills the Asturian sky from 7 in the morning to almost 10 at night. No need to hibernate with a crate of Rioja or Ribera del Duero. Spring has most definitely sprung in sunny Spain and the sidrerías are filling up. I love it. Asturian spring is like a Canadian or Irish summer.

Flowers1 Flowers2

Flowers3 HerbGraden

Flowers abound, especially wild daisies and dandylions that make the countryside and coastal walks here into a sea of white and yellow. I transplanted some wild daisies into a pot and they are the happiest, easiest plant I’ve ever had. The store-bought daisies are a little more temperamental, although I have started dead-heading them more and tending to their obvious needs a little better. Happily they have perked up and are starting to smile again. Mis margaritas y sus sonrisas – son fabulosas, es una maravilla. Our roses are in heaven.

We also started an herb garden because we wanted fresh herbs for cooking, but also to help with mi vocabulario, also, ahem, growing it would seem. We now have rosemary (romero), mint (menta), chives (cebollino), basil (albahaca), parsley (perejil), santolina, ruta or rue (ruda), thyme (tomillo), and lavender (lavanda), which we planted in a metre-by-half-metre raised bed in our back yard. The box stores here (Leroy Merlin, Alcampo, and La Cooperativa) are great for the soil, plants, rocks, and accessories, although I recommend you enter with a list and no credit card. It only took a weekend all told, although the blister on my thumb may take another week to heal.

We also have camomilas, petunias, liatris, and sweet alison (aliso), which we grew from seed, and are now poking their beautiful heads out and flowering with delight. The aliso is a beautiful white carpet of joy. It isn’t rocket science – plant, put out in sun, and add water (daily). These ones were all started in a semillero and transplanted as they sprouted to bigger macetas (pots). The aliso is so smiley and so simply conceived from semillero to small maceta to bigger maceta in under two weeks that I can only credit the creator. God is alive and well and living in abundance in the gardens and scenic walks around Gijón.

Ivy Tree

It is no wonder Spain is an agriculture power, when a born-and-raised city slicker such as myself can be remade so easily as a master gardener. Spain has the largest total acerage of vineyards in the world, and along with Italy and France produces over half of the world’s wine. Along with Italy and Greece, Spain also produces almost all the olive oil in the world. If the economists don’t spoil the fun by turning dedicated farmers into lazy accountants, Spain should be able to take care of itself well past the coming Armageddon.


About johnkwhi

I have worked as a writer, computational analyst, project manager, physicist, and lecturer during a 30-year career. I recently published the general trade book Do The Math! On Growth, Greed, and Strategic Thinking (Sage, 2012), aimed at improving general numeracy, and The House of Words (Tuttle House, 2013), a literary thriller starring New York Scrabble champ Suzy Q. I recently moved to Spain and started this Caracolas blog to record some of my experiences.
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10 Responses to Spring has most definitely sprung in sunny Spain

  1. Delightful and definitely full of the joys of spring….. Primavera ya llego

  2. Paloma Castro says:

    Beautiful flowers, John. it seems you’ve been working a lot 🙂 you know there is now a tendency of people renting little spaces of land to cultivate and grow their own vegetables and flowers? So maybe the economists want to turn us into accountants but people still want to have a relation with earth.

    • johnkwhi johnkwhite says:

      Thanks Paloma, and it really is more fun than work. I do have to stop planning new parts though, … at least until next week. La Cooperativa es una tienda muy peligrosa. And yes I am continually learning a better sense of the ground and what’s important. From nomad to villager to herb specialist. Me gusta mucho. Un abrazo, Xuanine.

  3. Andrew says:

    Hey John. So I’m not the only city boy to begin enjoying the garden. We’re planning a bit of work here in the next few weeks. I’m loving tending to the shrubs, putting down fabric to keep down weeds, putting up wind breaks, planning for veg patches and raised beds, and even cutting the lawn and strimming! You look to have done a wonderful job. Love the tree with the red flowers. Hi to Belen
    We’ll have to Skype soon.

    • johnkwhi johnkwhite says:

      Hey Andy, Sounds great, am looking forward to seeing the pics. Must be amazing with the Reeks in the background. I wish I could help with the watering — I learned my technique on your hedge! But I’ll send you some extra bright sun in a bottle to help with the shrubs. All the best to Karen and family — the best growers of all. Talk soon.

  4. carmenpiva says:

    Hi! I’m new around here. Nice blog, nice comments and I enjoy reading about Asturias from a different point of view. Belén will tell you who I am 🙂

  5. johnkwhi johnkwhite says:

    Hola Carmen, I am glad you are enjoying the site. Tis lots of fun writing about beautiful Asturias. And enjoying the various food delicacies including your marmalade — muchas gracias. Está delicioso. Ta laguine, John

  6. Lyn says:

    Hi John. I hope you don’t mind me contacting you to gain some advice? I’m researching areas to live in Spain and have been looking at Asturias. I’d like to move to somewhere warmer than England and with less rain. I realise that the green of Asturias means that it must receive a fair amount of rain, but I’m trying to understand whether it would be little, bearable and refreshing showers or the relentless drizzle and downpours that we suffer here in England, even in the summer months. It’s a typical British obsession to be asking about the weather, I hate to be a stereotype! What has your experience been? Thanks in advance.

    • johnkwhi johnkwhite says:

      Hi Lyn, I don’t think many Brits regret ever coming to Spain to live. Over 300,000 now living in the Costa del Sol, which would make it something like the 14th largest city in the UK, larger than Cardiff, Southampton, and Bradford. What’s not to like about great food, regular sun, and the friendliest of people. For sure, the food and the sun make for a happier life. Although cooler and wetter further north, it is still great living in the scenic, quieter coastal north. It does rain, but not as much as say Dublin or Glasgow, which is great for the garden and the hair. Most importantly it is always warmer by at least 5 degrees year round. As for learning about Asturias, I suggest starting with the three Asturian blogs on the expat site. Also many more on Spain. They may have answers to your particular questions. I hope that helps: Expats in Asturias

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