Spring is a great time of year to see plants looking their best and temptations aplenty were on offer at the Spring Garden Fair on Saturday 4 March at Quinta da Figueirinha. The garden fairs, organised by the Mediterranean Garden Association for Portugal (MGAP), are popular fixtures in the gardening calendar and the hard working volunteers involved in the planning and organising really excelled themselves this time.
We were very pleased to have the support of Silves Camara and some great helpers from the local school (ESPAMOL), they are now all experts at organising a car park !
The largest collection of fruit trees in Portugal is in the Algarve, and the largest collection in the Algarve is at the Agricultural Experiment Centre in Tavira where 120 varieties of almond trees, 280 varieties of vine and 227 varieties of citrus are growing happily among many other unique varieties of trees that many thought extinct.
Agricultural engineers from the Regional Directorate of Agriculture and Fisheries of the Algarve (DRAPALG) have been collecting trees and vines from across the region, replanting and carefully studying specimens that form “the genetic heritage of the Mediterranean’s fruit trees.”
The main tasks in the garden – pruning deciduous trees, pruning roses, bare-root planting – are projects which should be accomplished in January and not put off to February which will be too late.
On Saturday 17th September, 30 members of the club plus 28 guests got together at the beautiful home of Torunn and Jon Lange to celebrate 25 years since the formation of Clube Dos Bons Jardins, which is the second oldest English speaking gardening club in the Algarve.
We were blessed with good weather so started the party with drinks and canapés on the terrace looking out over the beautiful gardens to the Atlantic Ocean. We then retired into the welcome shade of the enormous garages which had been transformed into a wonderful party hall.
July is another good month for enjoying the garden rather than for planting owing to the heat. The most important task now through to September is ensuring plants have sufficient water. Except for several native plants and well-established drought-resistant plants, all plants need regular watering.
Water large trees deeply but infrequently to encourage deep roots, but avoid watering almond, olive, carob or fig trees. Allow the soil to dry somewhat between watering as this will allow air to get into the soil and give oxygen to the roots. The best time to water is early in the day.
June is the ideal month to simply enjoy your garden as most of the spring planting should have already been done but the hottest days yet to arrive. With so much in bloom, there should be plenty of colour now but if not you can head for your local garden centre for a quick remedy.
Consider such June-flowering plants as Fushcias, Hydrangeas, Lantana, Jacaranda trees, Agapanthus and Mandevilla.
Fuchsias need regular watering, but don’t let the soil get soggy. Feed often with fertiliser high in nitrogen. Deadhead the seedpods. All fuchsias need partial shade with white and pastel colours requiring a bit more shade than reds and purples.
May is the time to finalise all the spring planting, as the increased heat boosts all plants to really take off.
From now until November one key to success is to water deeply but appropriately for each plant.
The Mediterranean Gardening Association in Portugal extends a warm invitation to those readers who wish to attend the International Spring Conference weekend in Lagos on April 22nd to 25th.
The aim for this 5th annual conference is to reveal the practical and aesthetic benefits of making beautiful and sustainable gardens with plants of the Mediterranean and dry zone flora worldwide.