Sensible plants for Mediterranean climate situations



What is sensible for Mediterranean climate situations?

In our various books we have considered sensible in relation to plants planted in villa gardens and courtyards, and on apartment terraces, balconies and windowsills to mean plants that:

  • Are hardy in relation to the microclimate in which they are to be planted. For instance whether in a sheltered garden or in a garden blasted by every hot gale from north Africa or cold blasts from inland snowy mountains or central Europe.
  • Can thrive in full sun , in semi/dapple shaded situations by trees or protected by buildings blinds, awnings and gazeboes in gardens or on apartment terraces or in a few cases in full shade with some reflected light.
  • Are native or long naturalised plants.
  • Are available in growing mediums that can easily bond with garden soils and container composts mixes.
  • Are not generally so forced that they need excessive nursing for a considerable time.
  • Don’t require watering several times a day or an excessive watering bill.
  • Are not frequent attractors of insects and fungal spores.
  • Are normally priced within the average gardeners budget.

This does not imply that all the sensible plants will grow anywhere which is why in the plant descriptions of some 350 plants for gardens in ‘ Your Garden in Spain- Planning, planting and maintenance’ ISBN 978-84-89954-670 and the 125 plants selected for container gardening in ‘Apartment Gardening Mediterranean Style’ ISBN 978-84-89954-56-1 we indicate relative resistances to sun, shade, salt, drought, frost and especially in the case of fruit trees to height.

Implications of the above

  • Think before you buy. Impulse buys can be expensive failures.
  • Resist risky boutique plants imported to satisfy the desires of Spaniards new to gardening to have something new each year to show off to friends with no regard to their chance of the plant surviving beyond a few months.
  • Don’t co-plant plants with very different natural habitats. For instance thirsty plants originally from shady tropical jungles adjacent to drought resistant plants from arid situations. Watering to meet needs of the former can attract insects and fungal spores to the second and even rot their roots.
  • Buy plants with just one or two flowers out so that you can check the colour and enjoy their first flowerings rather than only having the benefit of the tail end of the garden centre display.
  • Having succeeded with particular plants minimise further planting costs by propagating your own plants from cuttings and seeds from these. After 25 years most of the long surviving plants in our Mediterranean garden and terrace containers are from our own propagations.

© Clodagh and Dick Handscombe July 2010.



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