Normally, spring is the best time to see changes and improvements at the garden, but our usual programme of Open Days had to be cancelled, so many missed the chance to visit. We also missed the opportunity to welcome groups from the UK such as horticultural trainees and botany students from Bristol University.
Winter season work continued through from October to March and this included the exciting step of having our first skip on site to remove heaps of old irrigation tubing from the proposed car park area. There are no plans to install permanent irrigation systems as the demonstration gardens will be established to show sustainable use of water and appropriate plants from other Mediterranean climate zones.
During November 2019, Dra Manuela David of Algarve University kindly agreed to become our official Taxonomic Adviser. Manuela has been a great supporter of the project and is the Curator of the Herbarium at the University. She has been doing a plant survey on the site and a list of the plants recorded so far is available at https://www.mgaportugal.org/BG%20Plants.html
We are also collaborating with Paul Taylor and he has made a regular commitment to working at the garden. He is an organic fruit farmer who specialises in dried fruits and other products for the UK market (www.sunnysfruitfarm.com).
Paul took on the task of giving the many almond trees on the concession area their first serious cleaning for many years and they have responded very well. He has also been cleaning trees and shrubs along the lines of the new paths before surface work took place and defining the new path routes. As well as Paul, we had a good response to our call for volunteers for bulb planting in November and so had the benefit of many new flowers this spring.
As a result of all this work, we have pathways created in new areas so that the garden is more accessible all year round. These paths are wider and will have the same stone surface as the original. The surface stone we have been using is the cheapest material for this type of job and can be used as a base for any future improvements. The main objective has been to create a surface which is user-friendly for all levels of mobility. It is possible to take a car directly to the Botanic Garden area if needed for anyone with mobility problems.
Spring visits showed a new colony of the Anacamptis pyramidalis, new Narcissus bulbicodium sites and a great show from the autumn plantings of bulbs such as Scilla peruviana alba. It was also good to see the Narcissus gaditanus reappear and we hope it is now established in the garden.
The dry spring definitely affected other orchid displays, but we are sure they will be back again. Some wildflowers seem to have enjoyed the late rains and the lime green flower heads of Prangos trifida and Thapsia villosa were a lovely contrast to the dark purple native lavenders.
The garden has also had some new seating benches installed in three locations. These are simple black metal benches which can be moved around as needed for events held at the garden. We hope to be able to buy more and use them in other areas.
The work on having our own dedicated car park with public access is now complete. This included levelling and creating a basic stone surface with direct access from the public trackway into the Quinta. The car park will be in a central position on the concession area of 2.2ha and make access much easier for visitors and volunteers. There will be no problem for volunteers or occasional visitors to use this car park directly from the entrance track to the Quinta.
We continue to work closely with Dr Gerhard Zabel and his family; their support has been central to the whole project. They have also been busy with developing new organic vegetable growing areas at the Quinta, a new composting zone and hard pruning and removal of invasive species such as acacias. The exotic fruit garden is also open for visits. It is always possible to combine a visit to the Botanic Garden with a tour and walks at the Quinta with facilities available at the Quinta Bar www.qdf.pt
You can download (34MB) and see the slides used for the MGAP Botanic Garden presentation made at the 2020 AGM on March 7. An outline of work to date and future plans are in the last couple of slides https://mgaportugal.org/BotanicGardenTalkAGM2020.ppsx
The cancellation of the Spring Fair due to be held in São Brás has badly hit our fundraising for 2020 but we are planning a special Autumn Fair in Silves on October 24 and 25. If you wish to make a donation to this special Botanic and Demonstration Garden project then you can do so by contacting [email protected]
As soon as conditions permit, it will be possible to book a guided visit for small groups, and we will advertise Open Days at the Botanic Garden during the late summer and autumn, with a special open day to coincide with the Autumn Fair in nearby Silves.
Please contact [email protected] if you would like details of events sent direct to you or to be added to our newsletter distribution list.
By ROSIE PEDDLE
|| [email protected]
289 791 869 | [email protected]