Waterwise Gardens bark

24-Feb-2015 - Mediterranean climate plants

This week, I'm talking about choosing plants for your garden. My guiding philosophy is to choose the right plants for the right place and an easy way to do this is to find plants from places with the same conditions as your garden. How can we do this in the Algarve? We look for plants from places with a mild, rainy winter and a hot, dry summer - a Mediterranean climate. As well as the Mediterranean basin, this climate exists in parts of Australia, South Africa, California and Chile.

But aren't drought tolerant things all spiky and brown? Not at all! Fortunately for us, there are over 70,000 plant species native to Mediterranean climate zones, so we really are spoilt for choice. As well as familiar Portuguese species like lavender, rosemary and thyme, look for Australian Grevillea, South African aloes, Californian salvias.

So, how can we tell at a glance whether a plant will suit our climate? Plants with small leaves, especially with a silvery or shiny coating and fragrant, oily sap, are usually adapted to cope with summer heat and should do well.

But don't they need special care to establish? Not really - just imitate nature - water as infrequently as possible. Give them a thorough, deep watering once a fortnight, and never more than once a week. After a year or two, you're free to kick back and enjoy their colours and scents!