General view
General view

Launching the new gardening year in style

Recent rainfall has transformed the natural landscape here in the Algarve. Previously, silver, brown and golden yellows were the predominant colours with seed heads and grasses providing movement and interest. 

We now have the refreshed foliage of evergreen shrubs, trees and plants responding to the arrival of rain after five months of high temperatures and drying winds. This is the normal cycle of a mediterranean climate – where gardeners must adapt to a pattern of seasonal dormancy followed by strong growth.

Seasonal dormancy is an adaptive mechanism where plants suspend growth and become physiologically inactive to avoid extreme environmental conditions. Environmental factors like temperature, daylength, nutrients, and soil moisture control plant growth and development through various complex molecular mechanisms. This is a common strategy for survival. You may think that your plants have died, but it is always worth waiting until the growing season to check, as many native plants may just be sleeping!

Bulbs for sale at the fair
Bulbs for sale at the fair

The Autumn Mediterranean Gardening Fair, which took place in Silves recently, was held to celebrate the start of the gardening year and there was an obvious buzz of pleasure and interest from our visitors. Their reactions to the hard-working nurseries that came with their amazing selection of plants showed that we are all ready to take up our gardening activities once again.

A well-attended keynote presentation was given on ‘How to Rewild your Garden’ by local authorities Udo and Claudia Schwarzer. This gave useful background information on how to bring nature into your garden while reducing your workload – always a popular move.

New for this event was an educational display by the Orchard of Flavours Botanic Garden, near Tavira. Miguel Cotton is growing and researching drought-tolerant fruits from around the world which can be grown in the Algarve. Next to him was an opportunity to buy fruit trees from José Lima from Falfosa and other exhibitors such as José Gamboa from Silves.

One of the aims for this event is to give visitors the opportunity to learn more by talking directly with the growers of the plants they buy.

Hippeastrum terracotta star
Hippeastrum terracotta star

New for this event also was a display and talk by the Portugal Agency for the Environment on the campaign to promote water-saving methods. Paula Vaz gave an interesting presentation on the various methods that can be used in any household to reduce water use. Another first-time exhibitor was a stand from the Portuguese agency for FELCO tools. They were able to also offer a workshop service for sharpening and basic maintenance for the over 30 tools brought in by visitors. A new lease of life for favourite tools!

A regular attraction for the Autumn Garden Fair was the selection of mediterranean bulbs for sale on the MGAP stand. This has increased each year and this time there were 24 varieties available including many native bulbs not seen for sale elsewhere. These included the deep blue Scilla peruviana, tassel hyacinth (Muscari commosum) and the very popular paperwhite narcissus (Narcissus papyraceous). Still available in limited quantities are Amaryllis belladonna and three types of spectacular Hippeastrum bulbs; if planted now they will be in flower for Christmas.  There are some bulbs still available at discount prices on request from [email protected]

Orchard of Flavours stand
Orchard of Flavours stand

The uncertain weather predicted for the weekend proved that the large indoor space worked well as a venue and, over the weekend, we attracted at least 3,300 people to enjoy free entry and free plant and gardening advice.

As usual, we had a wonderful response from our members and contacts who offered help as volunteers to run the event. Our association is a not-for-profit educational entity, and it would be impossible to bring this event to life without their participation. I would like to take this opportunity to thank each and every one who gave their time over the weekend. We are always keen to hear from anyone who may wish to help with the planning and preparation for the garden fairs. Please let us know if you would like to be involved and help us develop and improve the event.

Amaryllis belladonna
Amaryllis belladonna

Finally, a sincere thank you to all our sponsors, including at the Resident, and thanks also to all who came along to visit this garden fair. We have had some great messages of support and lovely comments. The aim was to make the Autumn Garden Fair for 2023 bigger and better than ever and we could not have done this alone.

The list of all exhibitors with full contact information is available here – please support our local growers. https://www.mgaportugal.org/folhetafeiraoutono2023final.pdf

By Rosie Peddle
|| [email protected]

289 791 869 | [email protected]
facebook.com/MedGardenersPortugal
www.mgaportugal.org