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Canary Island Plants for Mediterranean Gardens

by David Bramwell
photographs from  Flora Vascular de Canarias

Photographs to illustrate the article published in The Mediterranean Garden No 39, January 2005 and reprinted in No 77, July 2014

In his article Dr Bramwell tempts us with some natives of the Canary Islands which he recommends as ideal for mediterranean gardens. In 2005 the article was not illustrated on the website, but this can now be rectified since Mr Manuel Gil of the website Flora Vascular de Canarias has kindly agreed to allow us to use some photographs from the site.

David Bramwell writes: “Of the 35 Aeonium species found in the Canary Islands, only one, Aeonium nobile, has red flowers, the other all being typically pale pink.” Although threatened in the wild it is easy to grow in cultivation and is available from on-line nurseries.


Aeonium nobile


Aeonium nobile flower

Also recommended is a local endemic, Solanum lidii or Gran Canarian Nightshade, chosen because of its year-round interest of flowers, fruit and felt-like leaves. Unfortunately it is a little too much reminiscent of the invasive Solanum elaeagnifolium for me to take to heart.


Solanum lidii or Gran Canarian Nightshade

The genera Limoniun and Dorycnium are well known in Mediterranean gardens. Dr Bramwell mentions that the tall Limonium arborescens, illustrated below, has been introduced as a garden plant and it is indeed desirable, but I was unable to source it on the internet. Similarly, the Canary Island native Dorycnium broussonettii, quite different in appearance from the grey-leafed Mediterranean species with its attractive rounded green leaves and bright white flowers, does notappear to be cultivated for sale.


Limonium arborescens


Dorycnium broussonettii

Low-growing lotuses are a particular favourite of mine and the Canaries have some fine examples. Dr Bramwell chose Lotus pyranthus as the most likely to succeed as a garden plant but in fact his second choice of Lotus maculatus is the one available now from on-line nurseries. It can be grown as a wonderful cascade with silvery-green leaves and the claw-like flowers more orange than shown in the photograph below.


Lotus maculatus

Finally Pericallis lanata and Pericallis cruenta, the parents of the florists’ cineraria, which is apparently one of the most important pot plants in the nursery business. There is no doubt that the parents have a subtle beauty lacking in their offspring. These endemics are available as plants and seeds from specialist nurseries.


Pericallis lanata


Pericallis cruenta

Comments by Fleur Pavlidis

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