Last and this week I had the land around the house cleaned of grass, stones and bushes. This is to prevent a fire from occurring, so fire prevention. The shrubs give the most effort, they can reach 3m high, with side branches. The name is Cistus Ladanífera or rock rose family. It is a pioneer plant that almost always thrives, growing on rocks and finding its way into crevices with its roots. The flowers are white and five or sixfold, with a dark purple dot on each petal with a yellow center. They really stand out with their dark green leaves, which are covered at the top with a sticky substance that is used to make amber-like perfume. It is a pioneer and covers the ground with its leaves and after a while, with its dead wood, resulting in a litter layer, on which grass can grow. And so the soil layer builds up, together with the worn-out rock, into a real soil layer. That will take some years, but that's how nature works, without haste, uncontrollably and purposefully. So if you have to observe nature, here in Portugal, it starts with these shrubs, which are the pioneers of the first life that takes place on the rocks, and from there build up the soil, on a larger scale than the small plants, which are there, but do not manifest themselves as conspicuously. I get there through the film I posted earlier, and the permaculture movement. These assume that you should observe first, then make a plan, not the other way around. The problem I'm running into here is the fact that most people who come here to Portugal usually have their ideas ready, as well as their plans. They throw themselves into gardening, with a Northern European background, without knowing Portugal, that is, the country. From in fact a boiled vision. But first, back to why I'm cleaning the land. That's not just fire prevention, it's even more because I myself want to clean the land, to better reflect the slope and shape of the hill on which the house stands. In the winter grasses grow from October to May and now with June the desiccation sets in, and that lasts again until September, so 4 months to go in terms of appearance. The hill slopes downwards, with here and there clear rock formations. These are sometimes at right angles to the slope, giving you a clear view and insight into how the rocks are built up from layers of rock, ie slate. There are stones and pieces of stone everywhere, and very often also flat slate, with the colors from yellow to dark brown, but not black, but again with red in it. So it is a kaleidoscope of colours, but you have to have an eye for it, the dark predominates. And I want this to come into its own. That takes a lot of work, but for the view and appearance I'm willing to pay for it. This is about the design of the environment. The government has determined that 50 m around the house, the ground must be free of vegetation, this is one hectare plus the house. Trees should be pruned to 4 m height and 10 m apart. I don't know which landscape architect came up with this, but in my case, this is impossible. It's not flat land, so I come across the hills that make and shape the landscape to clean it up, if the government wants it. But also the soil, which has formed itself in the course of time, as nature has indicated. This now, is thwarted by the decision of the government. It must be clean. So I do this, but with it I impoverish the soil, and eventually there will be no more grass and no more shrubs. Now to come back to garden in Portugal, the garden must be 50 m from the house, and the soil must be impoverished, in order to maintain fire prevention, and this is how you manage the garden, with composting of the cleared soil of grass, herbs and shrubs. This is the reality, right now in Portugal. So make plans in N.L. how to set up a garden is at odds with reality, here in Portugal. So it is also a reality to take into account the situation as prescribed by the government, to observe the environment and what is possible, to use what is compostable to at least build up organic material in the construction for, and to know well what is possible from a soil point of view, before the plant knowledge runs off with you. Soil, moisture, air, minerals and the sun are your friends, but can also become your enemies if you don't use them properly. This does not yet go into a shade vegetation, for plants against the sun, in the summer time. This is thought from the winter time, so from October to May.
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