An Expats View On Life In Nerja

If my mother had lived here in Nerja I have no doubt that she would have been able to clone a Palm tree from the hair of a coconut shell. Her fingers weren’t just green; they were, well, very green. She would take cuttings off anything that grew irrespective of where it was growing or who was growing it. Long before Matt Lucas created his wheel- chair- bound character, my mum would leap out of hers’- secateurs in hand and before you could say Rhodidodedendrun the Town Hall garden would be as bald as Matt himself. So fond of gardening was she that she once, anonymously, called social services to report that “her son and that woman he chose against everybody’s advice to set up home with were mistreating their plants”. Something I don’t think Dolly Kray would have done. On being told that this was not really a suitable case for the social workers, she wrote to the local press resulting in the Gardening correspondent of The East London Advertiser door-stepping us for several days until we finally apologised and promised to mend our ways. Mum did have a point though. Any plants we did either inherit from previous house owners or that were bought for us as ‘moving in’ presents and the like would seem to jointly refuse to take water, preferring instead to enter suicide pacts rather than suffer the prolonged agony of long term neglect.


There is definitely an age at which pastimes like Gardening become socially acceptable. In a similar vein I remember the day on or around my fortieth birthday, after years of warnings from middle-aged uncles that it would be the case, that the penny dropped and I realised that no matter how much I ranted and raved, the cause of World Socialism would not move on a jot. At family gatherings I would attempt to engineer conversations around to such topics as Western Imperialistic sponsored atrocities in South East Asia and Nixon’s deforestation policy and use of Agent Orange. Only to be out gunned by those same middle aged uncles talking about how lovely their Bizzy Lizzies were looking in spite of yet another hose pipe ban. ‘That’, I swore would never be my raison d’etre!

To my certain knowledge there are at least eight Garden Centres within a ten minute drive of central Nerja. Providing you shop wisely and often, the carbon footprint left by one’s journey to even the furthest of them can be easily off-set. They are crammed with plants that I honestly thought only grew in the basement departments of Marks and Spencer. Of course I’d seen A Bird of Paradise on TV; and in the basement departments of M&S before, but it didn’t occur to me until I accidentally paid a visit to a Viveros a few weeks ago that they actually existed in the “wild” as ‘twere. Beautiful tropical plants in pots that, if kept on one’s terrace and watered regularly, would actually survive.

Of course it must be said that we are living in a ‘Garden of Eden’ with its very own micro climate in which it would seem all things will grow. Pay a visit to the privately owned Allotments just on the outskirts of town and you will see that it’s “All Kicking Off”. The owner will rent you a sizable plot for about 25 euros upon which you can breed chickens and become self sufficient in home grown veggies with enough to share with your neighbours-(though at the same time being sure not to neglect our splendid local Fruterias).

I look in the shaving mirror each morning and staring back at me are the same boyish features of the seventeen year old I once was. What a rude awakening my Lower Back provides after a re-potting session! But how rewarding! The terrace is now a profusion of colour for a surprisingly little amount of money. Several different kinds of Toms, Peppers and Chillies as well as the cuttings of various succulents that Lynn from S&M Inmobiliaria gave us, grow with her assurance of their certain success in the desert conditions that prevail on our roof. Thank you Lynn, an Estate Agent and then some.

Yes. Having reached the age when to be seen at a Garden Centre is positively ‘cool’, I have to confess to being rather glad I’m there. So much so I now look forward with even greater relish to my Friday nights at Tutti Fruti Square, debating with the young bucks on subjects such as what best composts to use and the rights and wrongs in the deployment of inorganic defoliants. It is gratifying to know that some of them still regard the use of Agent Orange as the crime against humanity that it was.

So all you Nerja dudes who have yet to discover the joys of Horticulture, put on your gardening gloves, turn the peak of your Baseball cap to face south and get potting and rotting. And remember, it is possible even in this climate, to over water.

By Daniel Kruyer – Copyright 2012.

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