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A beautiful Algarve terrace garden

By John Weedall

We’ve always had a colourful potted terrace garden but after returning from an 18 month stint back in England in March, we’ve managed to create a much admired arrangement of terrace pots which gives sheer pleasure to sit among sharing a glass of Portuguese wine and nibbles, taking the variety of fragrances from the flowers as well as the wine!

We have Roses, Bougainvilleas, an array of Petunias, Busy Lizzies and  Impatiens, Tagetes, Asters, Chinese Lantern, Gladioli and Freesias (seasonal) and with due care, most remain in full bloom for months on end.

It’s best to use terracotta pots rather than plastic as terracotta absorbs the watering for drainage and avoids the prospect of sodding roots – I mean this in gardening terms!

Also use broken terracotta or small stones or shingle in the base of the pots before filling with compost to ensure adequate drainage. I think the pot selection  and  proper drainage are most important for the longevity of your plants, year on year.

While we use garden centres for certain plants, we buy our pots from Continente and E.Leclerc where terracotta pots are low cost from around 49 cents and I’ve used 40kg bags of E.Leclerc’s flower compost at €4.95 a bag so you don’t need lots of money to create a stunning flower show.

You do need dedication to ensure daily watering and twice-a-week liquid feed.

The liquid feed is essential to optimise the floral  abundance and sustain extended seasonal life.

We find Compo Universal feed is just the job and I buy this at Continente at around €7 and it lasts a fortnight or so with the 50 pots or so we have.

We bought a large terracotta urn-shaped pot 25 years ago when we first invested here and we’ve never had any success in growing anything out of it. It’s now scruffily well aged and my wife discovered a new lease of life by placing a smaller pot inside its top, the one with that beautiful full red geranium hanging gracefully from it (see picture), where you only ever see in Latin climates…. I was going to say Mediterranean but hey…no comparison with the Atlantic.

Plants, similar to animals, become family if you treat them right.

Darcy, our six-year old Lab, seeks shade from her sleeky but nonetheless beautiful “overcoat” and enjoys rest after her half kilometre swim daily.

Cindy, our nearly 19-year old Siamese is feeling the chill today, with only a day until September (at the time of writing) and bathes in the wonderful Algarve sun.

Our plants are the same in that they cope completely with  summer heat and sunlight and equally blossom with shade. You have to move them around at times to avoid sunburn but not too often.

It’s so pleasurable to see butterflies, bees (long time since I heard about them!) and other insects wallowing in the pollen created by these wonderful plants.

It’s not only a lovely spectacle, but a mini nature reserve too!

John Weedall and his wife honeymooned at the Delfim hotel in Alvor in 1986 when they bought an apartment under construction for escapes away from business pressures and looking ahead to retirement. John is also the inventor and creator of the Rainsmart system, an efficient way of collecting and saving rainwater. Read more about Rainsmart at