THERE are several important aspects to planting strategies whether planning a new garden or improving an existing one.
Firstly what is your vision and mission of your final garden?
Simple or complex? Colourful in all seasons or during your few weeks of residence?
Able to be self-developed and maintained or needing one or more gardeners?
Flattened landscape or preserving existing slopes and terrace walls?
Thick high hedges or open vistas? Plenty of shade or none? Bare walls or covered with climbers?
Secondly what range of plants do you wish to consider and what drought/frost risk profile do you want?
When compiling the descriptive plant tables for the book ‘Your Garden in Spain,’ we drove over a couple of months most of the coastline from Cataluña to Gibraltar after the heavy frosts of March 2004 and 2005 to check which plants had been most damaged and which showed little damage in early spring.
We had some amazing experiences including finding many dead palms and even dead olive trees an hour from the coast where howling, freezing gales had produced leaf air frost temperatures to as low as minus 40 degrees.
This year was an exceptionally dry year for most and enabled many gardeners to review their drought risk profiles.
If you did not think about this in detail you might find the booklet ‘How to use less water in your garden – A practical guide to waterwise Mediterranean style gardening worldwide’ of benefit.
One thing that appeals to many newcomers is to combine the range of colours and leaf forms possible with a mix of subtropical bougainvilleas, evergreen edging plants and spring annuals.
A display that achieves height, depth and total ground cover.
Some special effects and interesting internal vistas can be created by making full use of the sculptural potential of plants.
Dark corners under trees don’t have to be dead as the succulent orchid cactus demonstrates.
Each flower only lasts a day, but a mature plant can have a succession of amazing flowers that one can sit and watch.
The second half of July and the month of August can be amongst the least colourful months in the garden, but once tempera-tures cool a little and the first autumn rains come, a range of salvias can give exceptional colour.
Hope these illustrations stimulate creative ideas for your own garden.
© Dick Handscombe www.gardenspain.com January 2015