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Tia Cristina's Garden Tips

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Tia Cristina's Garden Tips

Cristina Soriano

Whenever I’m in St. Jean de Luz my longing for a home with an expansive garden grows more and more lush. I see my aunt, Tia Cristina, take such pride in her green space, I observe how gracefully she snips the browned leaves off her boxwoods and how she sings to the dahlias in her flower cutting patch.

One of my favorite parts of Tia Cristina's garden - the lush driveway

One of my favorite parts of Tia Cristina's garden - the lush driveway

This summer I’ve learned so much from her about the maintenance of a garden. So, for those who are fortunate to have a space of their own, here are a few of my notes!

Patience, Love and Devotion

Cristinita and Yianni tending to the cutting garden

Cristinita and Yianni tending to the cutting garden

A garden is living, breathing and growing so you treat it accordingly. Carefully observe the fronts – they will tell you whether they are unhappy and require additional nutrients or more water. Trim off dead or dried areas to allow the plant to breath and regrow. Do your research to understand which varieties complement one another – you don’t want to put two opposing plants beside each other – they will both end up dying.

Egg Shells

Sprinkled egg shells on the base of a cabbage plant

Sprinkled egg shells on the base of a cabbage plant

Save your eggshells to fend of slugs and other pests. Simply crush the shells and sprinkle on the base of your lettuce bulbs or tomato plants and the jagged edges will keep the slugs at bay.   

Milk

A mixture of one part milk and two parts water acts as a natural disease controller for your plants, especially on roses that tend to contract black spots on their leaves. Spray the mixture once a week, the solution works as well as any synthetic fungicide.

 Start with Seedlings

Tia Cristina has told me many stories of life with my Granny, who was, in all my memories, the most glamorous and striking woman. Although she loved a pristine garden, it was not my Granny’s favorite pastime to hunch over blades of grass and to pluck the resilient weeds. What she did enjoy, however, was bringing plants to life, starting from seeds and watching a little bud grow out from the soil. 

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In a green thumb discussion between Tia Cristina and I, we came to the conclusion that although bringing seeds to life is quite romantic, it is so impractical. Summer months feel so short and we want to enjoy our gardens at their full potential. Planting seedlings rather than seeds is an easy and quick way to make the garden lush.

Orchid Regrowth

Do you see where my aunt snipped off the yellow parts of the stem and where a second 'fork' has grown, bearing flowers?

Do you see where my aunt snipped off the yellow parts of the stem and where a second 'fork' has grown, bearing flowers?

If you think your orchids are dead once all the flowers have fallen, you’re terribly mistaken. Rather than throwing out the tropical air plant, keep them well, and you’ll have flowers re-growing in a matter of months. According to my garden expert Aunt, you should cut only the part of the stem that has turned yellow or brown, rather than cutting it entirely down to the leaves. New orchid flowers will grow more rapidly if the stems are kept.

 

A beautiful lunch centerpiece from the cutting garden!  

A beautiful lunch centerpiece from the cutting garden!  

Tia Cris, thank you for always being such an inspiration!! I hope one day my garden is as stunning as yours!

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