Celebrate Algarve gardening in a new venue

Finding the right plants for your Algarve garden can be a problem. The 11th annual Autumn Mediterranean Garden Fair will take place at the dedicated exhibition space in Silves, FISSUL, over two days on October 26 and 27.

There will be over 20 plant nurseries providing a range of plants, native plants and seeds, bulbs, shrubs and trees for your Algarve garden as well as free talks and gardening advice from experienced Mediterranean gardeners. There will be books on the Mediterranean garden, including those from Olivier Filippi, available in Portuguese, French and English.

This event is organised by the not-for-profit Mediterranean Gardening Association for Portugal and is its main fundraising event. We are very grateful to MGAP members and friends who volunteer their time to share their experiences of gardening in challenging climates and encourage sustainable gardens and landscapes. The event could not take place without them!

Succulents are not just spiky stuff. At this year’s event, there will be a greater range than ever before of succulents for sale and on display. In simple terms, a “succulent” is a plant that has the ability to store water in specialised tissue for use if water becomes scarce at a later time. For most people, this immediately conjures up thoughts of spiky plants in a dry desert environment. Whilst not untrue, it is not always the case. Succulent plants can be found in just about every environment on the planet, including cold regions, wet environs and high altitude. However, plants with at least some degree of succulence are much more common in hot, arid regions, whereas they are the exception in other areas.

Let’s be clear about this, all cacti are succulents but not all succulents are cacti – confused? Don’t worry, you are not alone! Generally speaking, cacti can be thought of as the spiny and spiky members of the much larger and fascinating succulent plant kingdom.

As with so many plants suitable for dry gardens in Mediterranean climates, succulents need a situation with good drainage. Plants that survive for months on little or no water can be extremely intolerant of cold wet feet, just like us really! Any extended time in waterlogged soil, with badly managed irrigation systems, at the foot of slopes or in sticky clay soils, provides ideal conditions for disease and rotting.

A great asset of the Algarve is the number of rocks lying around. Use larger rocks to provide support for soil pockets, like mini terraces, along the contours of your slope. Gravel used as a top dressing or mulch prevents muddy rainfall splashing and wetting delicate plants as well as providing drainage around stems and trunks. An added bonus is that rocks associate really well with succulents.

The Algarve gives the opportunity to plant succulents and cacti outside and make a whole garden or a special area devoted to these plants. Many different colours and textures can be combined. Be careful however, succulents can suffer from sunburn! Plants that have just been moved from a shady location to direct sunlight are likely to get damaged. A light burn will just be a whitish discolouring on the exposed areas. More severe burns will become a hard-brown scar in whatever areas did not get shade and you will have to wait for new growth to recover the plant.

At the garden fair, as well as succulents, there will be a special display and workshop from the Orchid Club of Portugal of orchids suitable for growing outside here and, for the first time, a specialist nursery with Tillandsias and Bromeliads.

This year, for the first time, the garden fair will take place over two days and we hope this will give a better experience for our visitors, and a chance for the nurseries to restock for Sunday visitors. Plus, there will be more time to browse all the stalls and to talk about the plants you wish to buy. Have you been building a wish-list of the plants you want to have in your garden? Go along to the Algarve gardening event of the year and see how many you can find!


By Rosie Peddle
|| features@algarveresident.com

rosie@thebtf.net | 289 791 869
Mediterranean Gardening Association – Portugal

Tillandsia albertiana
Succulent garden
How to grow orchids
A nursery stand