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Carlos March is an entrepreneur with a passionate interest in nature, gardening and hunting.In this autobiographical book, he reviews the thirty-five year history of his garden at Altarejos, a model of complementarity, equilibrium and respect for the environment. With its three hundred varieties of roses and more than four hundred species and varieties of trees, shrubs and creepers, harmonious transitions are successfully created between the house, the garden and the wild oak woods of Sierra Morena.In his constant search for aesthetic satisfaction, the author admits frankly to the mistakes he has made and offers the solutions of an experienced amateur - a far cry from the cliches found in so many gardening books.
Chapter 2 - The environs. HuntingI bought Altarejos in 1975 so as to have my own reserve for wild partridge drives, with a house and garden that would be respectful to the environment.Where hunting was concerned, the estate had what I believe to be the four indispensible requisites: a minimum surface area of two thousand hectares, a good stock of partridge at large in the countryside, beauty and isolation.The surface area. Game reservesOf course, the number of hectares indispensible for a collective hunting reserve is relative. It depends on the breeding and hunting average per hectare for partridge in each area of Spain. Excluding the whole of the northern part of the country above Madrid, where the cold winters and altitude are alien to the natural habitat of Spanish partridges, and eliminating also those regions suffering from the pernicious effects of population density, where man is the main predator, there remain only six provinces in Spain where intensive hunting with line drives is possible: Toledo, Ciudad Real, Albacete, Badajoz, Seville and Cadiz. Three of these are in Castile-La Mancha, two in Andalusia and one in Extremadura. Powers over environmental and hunting regulation were transferred by the State separately to each of these three different autonomous regions, leading to a chaotic lack of co-ordination in applying the current legislation.In the sixties, the province of Madrid had several private estates with extraordinary partridge shooting, as well as a number of magnificent municipal reserves. Today, those reserves have vanished amidst holiday homes and cement monsters, one effect of the rapid increase in the population of the Madrid region.The case of Toledo is similar to that of Madrid, but rather less intense. Besides another historic private estate, El Castanar, there were dozens of municipal reserves, like Valmojado, Casarrubios, Camarena, Chozas, Fuensalida and Mentrida. Between 1960 and 1980, these villages achieved astonishing quotas of partridge per hectare, always higher than 1.5 in normal seasons. I shall never forget the reserve at Valmojado, which my brother Juan and I leased for twelve years. In two hunts making up a single cuartel - a term used for five drives over a territory of about one thousand hectares - we once killed two thousand five hundred partridges! They were large birds that flew sluggishly over the vineyards, the stubble and the dry, wind-beaten and dusty earth, but we enjoyed ourselves immensely because, among other things, it was all we had. In spite of motorways and industrial estates, wild partridge is still hunted in the area, though its density per hectare has fallen to twenty per cent of what it was in the golden years.