Following the great response to the MGAP Spring Garden Fairs since the first one in 2015, this year on Saturday, March 16, the event will move to a new venue at the Fissul exhibition centre in Silves.
Organised by Algarve Mediterranean Gardening Association-Portugal (MGAP) in partnership with the Freguesia of Silves, there will be an opportunity to expand the range of plants available and improve the range of facilities for visitors.
This Spring Garden Fair will highlight and support the new project for a Barrocal Botanic Garden in Silves. The Barrocal is one of the three ecological areas of the Algarve with a distinct plant community with the potential to create beautiful natural gardens.
The Fissul exhibition centre has extensive free car parking and is well signed on the main road, to the left, approximately 800m after crossing the river bridge into Silves from the motorway link road. The building will allow the whole event to be indoors so we can guarantee that it will take place, no matter what the weather.
Creating a sustainable Mediterranean garden in the Algarve can be a challenge but also very rewarding. The new, and very fashionable, trend for gardening with nature and in tune with the climate is particularly relevant in Mediterranean zones. Fortunately, the Mediterranean has a wonderfully diverse range of plants available to gardeners.
Lessons have been learned over the last few years of rising water bills and prolonged periods of drought and those who have taken the decision to remove expensive lawns have enjoyed the benefits of mixed planting and lower maintenance costs.
Portugal has a well-documented native flora, which mixes well with plants from other Mediterranean areas, so finding the right plant for the right place should become a pleasure rather than a chore.
One of the aims for the garden fair organisers has always been to encourage plant nurseries and growers to provide more climate-appropriate plants with minimal water requirements. Over time, the demand from the plant-buying public has supported this theme. Increased water costs, increased awareness of the environmental impact of gardening and a wish for more natural styles have all contributed.
There will be nurseries specialising in drought-resistant perennials, aromatic herbs, fruit trees and shrubs together with succulents for dry-garden landscaping.
The usual programme of talks will take place in the spacious lecture room, and we have popular speaker Fernanda Botelho with us for this event. Topics will include advice on creating your own dry garden with the opportunity to ask questions. Also available will be Mediterranean garden books, seeds of native plants from Sementes de Portugal and a plant and advice clinic run by experienced members of MGAP.
The new venue is very spacious, so we expect the displays of plants for sale on the day will be both colourful and inspiring. There will be a larger-than-usual plant crèche area directly accessible by car, refreshments, bar facilities and plenty of seating.
The event will be open to the public from 11am to 5pm. There is no entry charge, but donations to the Barrocal Botanic Garden are welcome to our volunteers, both at the door and during the event.
By Rosie Peddle
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Mediterranean Gardening Association – Portugal