Patios are an ancient European tradition


Patios are an ancient tradition

Patio gardens are not something invented by the Chelsea Flower Show but are a style of garden existing in southern Europe since the Iberians and Romans. Today the attractiveness of them still remains for four main reasons and each are creatively illustrated in the annual May patio festival in Cordoba which has just finished but keeping your eyes open you will discover wonderful examples throughout Spain.

The best are places to live in throughout the year with wall-to-wall shading during the hottest hours and months and with the shading keeping the ground mostly dry during the rainy season.


Roman style patios not highlighted in the Cordoba Fiesta

Roman lifestyle was an outward going one with eating and drinking away from home with visits to the theatre and sporting arenas. Home patios were therefore for resting and not merry making and patios tended to be cool and subdued with white walls and green vegetation. Much use being made of ferns, ivies and aspidistras.

 21st Century Style Arab Patios

Arab life in Cordoba was a much more subdued affair than today with leisure time focused on home especially where women were concerned. So patios became full of perfumed flowering plants and today competitors in each year’s May Patio festival attempt to outdo historic levels of beauty.

 Patio swimming pools

Larger patios can incorporate mini terraced patios to one side with a delightful swimming pool surrounded by masses of colour and deep arches of shade on the other. Somewhat more enticing for a dip than a standard developer’s pool plonked in the middle of a large terrace where it is the main feature, even eyesore, of a future garden.

 The famous patios of the Viana Palace

The Viana Palace in Cordoba is one of my favourites. A dozen patios of different styles surround the family palace. These are not in the Cordoba Patio Festival but are open all the year round.

The Bodegas de Campos Patios

The historic Bodegas de Campos is a good place to eat after several hours of traipsing around the historic gems of Cordoba at any time of the year but don’t miss out on seeing the historic maze of patios of this part of the old town. There is an interesting tour each day, 11.00am in English and midday in Spanish/English, through a complex of old wine cellars, houses factories and patios.

Villa and apartment covered terraces

If you have a sizeable covered villa or apartment terrace treat its design like a patio with a roof. There are several suggested design ideas for this in the book ‘Apartment gardening Mediterranean style’.

 There are so many examples of ancient creative gardens in Spain to inspire today’s expat gardeners to plan to live outdoors throughout most months of the year. It is sad that the advent of air-conditioning has caused many to close out nature and not enjoy the potential of Spanish living to the full.

(c) Dick Handscombe May 2016.




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