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My wife and I were very fortunate over the last few months to discover a variety of amazing plants and wildlife as far afield as Bali and closer to home the delightful Funchal in Madeira. Most surprisingly, the species we often see as Mediterranean fauna growing on our homeland shores, very often originates from across the globe and were transported here by the pioneering travellers of yesteryear. Helped along by the determination of Mother Nature to survive, they simply settled in to their new climate. Providing the temperatures in your particular Eden never plummet below 2-4 degrees for any sustained period, I believe that in the Mediterranean you can create your own micro climate, simply by producing extra humidity and shade areas to your garden, therefore allowing you to grow pretty much anything. That’s a particular challenge I am going to take up with my own garden in the following months. Having spent over two decades designing and landscaping for clients needs, I know that I’m not alone in saying that most of us gardeners tend to stay with the species that are low maintenance and safe bets. Utilising the plants that we know love the Mediterranean climate without too much fussing and mollycoddling. But my aim now is to use a mimosa shaded bank to create my own haven for plants from around the world. When you cut back mimosa for firewood the roots rot very quickly in the soil, which then creates a perfect loamy, nitrogen rich earth. I then let weeds and wild flowers take over for the first year to help break up the compaction, so after 18 months I have a rich organic soil to play with. My next exercise is to create humidity so a waterfall and fine misters as irrigation will give me the base that the tropicals love. He who dares … So, as you browse through the latest edition of this vast wealth of gardening knowledge, you will read about some plants and trees that might be very new to you - and guess who has some seeds to play with! We have a special section on Madeira, so if you get the chance to visit the Flower Festival in May, consider the colonial retreat of Quinta da Bela Vista. We are also up close and personal with landscape designer Manoj Malde, who has a show garden at Chelsea this year with a Mexican theme albeit using many Mediterranean plants. We will be following up on our next edition on how he fares plus a step-by-step report on the set up from two months away, right up to the day of judging. Closer to home you might have heard about the controversial plans for mining for feldspar here in the Algarve. Garden and wildlife lovers are united in their fears about the future of the eco-system should this go ahead, particularly if a wonderful forest area close to us will be left desecrated in return for this not often heard of mineral. Pete Siegfried gives us an in depth view on what exactly feldspar is, why its so sought after and should we be concerned. And last but not least as you know we are tree lovers and are always looking at ways to be recyclable and sustainable, so from now all subscribers will receive their edition in bio-degradable packages and it won’t be long before we change our print settings too. The sun is shining again, there is an extra hour now in the garden, so bring on the spring flowers. Happy reading
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