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On Germanders in the Mediterranean Garden

by Sally Razelou
photographs by Isabel Sanders and Davina Michaelides (no 2)

Photographs to illustrate the article published in The Mediterranean Garden No 30, October 2002 and reprinted in No 77, July 2014

In this article Sally Razelou describes the seven species of teucriums growing in the MGS garden at Sparoza. Four of them are natives of Greece.

Teucrium chamaedrys, Teucrium cossonii (a native of the Balearics), Teucrium flavum, Teucrium fruticans, Teucrium hircanicum (a native of the Caucasus and Iran), Teucrium marum (from the western Mediterranean; much loved and often destroyed by cats but doing very well in total drought at Sparoza), Teucrium polium.

She mentions that the plant takes its name from King Teucer of Troy who is said to have used one of the species medicinally – probably the humble Teucrium polium.

The grey Teucrium polium growing with a Fumana.

She also notes that she was hoping, in 2002, to increase the number of Teucrium species in the garden, and indeed over the years she has tried out many new additions. Alas, some of the smaller species have disappointed and have not survived the conditions prevailing at Sparoza despite special care. There are four newcomers, however, which have not only survived but flourished.

A number of sports of the native Teucrium fruticans have been selected by growers (the Filippi Nursery catalogue lists eight, up from one in 2000) and two of them, T. fruticans ‘Azureum’ and T. fruticans ‘Agadir’, are now being grown and propagated at Sparoza. ‘Azureum’ is very easy to grow and its darker blue flowers and neater, softer habit than the plain species make it a popular choice for members to take home from the biannual Sparoza plant exchanges. ‘Agadir’ has a shorter flowering season but its compact growth makes it ideal for a small bed or garden.

Teucrium fruticans ‘

Teucrium fruticans ‘Azureum’ close-up

Also doing well are Teucrium creticum and Teucrium brevifolium. The former looks like a teucrium masquerading as a small rosemary, but in spring its delicate spikes of pale mauve flowers, displayed as if in a flower vase, reveal its true identity. Teucrium brevifolium is a much tougher character. Impervious to drought, lack of soil and general neglect, this Greek native flowers profusely all through the spring and then falls into a summer sleep.

Teucrium brevifolium
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