This will almost certainly be my last post on ‘Living in Italy’.
On Monday 2nd January 2017 we will be committing to the sale of our house, mainly for health reasons.
I wish to say how much I’ve appreciated the companionship of my readers, and above all those I’ve heard from regularly. You know who you are and I will not forget you.
The grapefruit tree has chosen this moment to send out dozens of new shoots, just as we have to leave it behind, but we hope that it foreshadows new beginnings.
These little creatures – about the size of a pin-head – are sitting on a leaf of our grown-from-pip grapefruit tree.
They look almost cute, like tiny flattened mice, but they’ve got their mouthparts well stuck into the central vein, sucking sap.
I’m not sure how much harm they’re doing; the spider mites are probably worse. But they’re making the leaves unpleasantly sticky with their honeydew.
One way of getting rid of them is to pick or rub them off by hand, wiping the stove dust off the leaf at the same time so as to kill two birds with one stone. But the plant’s nearly two metres high and two metres wide and has a lot of leaves so it would be a bit like painting the Forth Bridge.
Our grown-from-a-pip grapefruit tree didn’t get its normal summer airing last year.
Which is a shame, because it probably looks forward to getting the stove ash blown off its leaves and exchanging one sort of parasite for another.
It doesn’t seem to have disheartened it, though.
We’ve given up on it producing any flowers let alone fruit, but there’s still a tremendous life-force in it giving rise to little shoots like the one in the photo.
Spring has happened indoors ahead of outdoors.
The Scarce Swallowtail is so named because it’s a rare migrant in Britain. It’s also becoming rarer in other parts of Europe.
This particular one nearly met its demise in the swimming pool yesterday evening.
Fortunately I was passing and although the net didn’t reach it and the net pole was tied up in a syphon contraption, I went in, clothed, and rescued it.
It didn’t stay on the windowsill where I put it but flapped onto my dress, where it seemed to be particularly drawn to the yellow flower.
It walked from there onto my finger and liked its new position so much that I could have danced with it, or done acrobatics, without it detaching itself.
I finally coaxed it onto the top leaves of the little grapefruit tree where it clung, and watched me.
It was still there a while later but had gone by the morning.
Last night I checked on our little grapefruit tree by torchlight.
It’s in a pot which I’ve placed outside for the summer.
I like to make sure it’s not too wet or dry, and not being invaded by some nasty pest.
There were some delicate fingers of new leaves which is a good sign.
There was also a tiny green cricket which ended up looking quite ethereal under the flash.
Yesterday was Liberation Day in Italy and Chokri was available.
With the start of the warmer weather, our living room no longer needs to serve as a greenhouse so I decided to do a bit of moving around.
The planters, which have been out all year and harbour a motley population of strawberries, coltsfoot, Virginia stock and goldenrod, we took up to the shed and sat on blocks so that the leaves will soften the box-like outline of the side panel.
The plants which have been indoors – the cacti and the grapefruit tree – we added to other tubs which had been outside all along and arranged them in front of the stone wall in the courtyard, on a new bed of clean gravel to cover the general detritus from the oak tree.
Unfortunately today the rain carried with it fine sand from the Sahara Desert, a not infrequent occurrence in Italy, so that everything was stippled with a light powder.
I gave the grapefruit a squirt with clean water to cheer it up; I have a lot invested in that tree!
Last year our little pip-grown grapefruit tree suddenly grew a dramatic vertical spike.
I believe it might be what you call a water shoot.
Well, after much reluctance and procrastination, I finally did the terrible deed and cut it off level with the rest of the tree in the hope that it would bush out and stop looking like a giraffe.
Maybe, just maybe, I’ve been vindicated because tiny buds have appeared in the axils of the leaves at the top of the remaining spike.
The photo shows the topmost one.