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An excerpt from The Mediterranean Garden - No. 10   Autumn 1997

Autumn in the Mediterranean is planting time. Trees, shrubs and perennials planted now can benefit from the winter rains and have a chance to start getting established before they have to face the heat and drought of summer. Seeds, especially of annuals, should also be sown now. (One of the many confusing things for gardeners who are new to a Mediterranean climate is that fact that most gardening books - and many seed packets - pronounce dogmatically 'Sow in late spring', and while this may be good for a temperate climate it is not at all helpful for one where by May the rainfall will have ceased and the thermometer be nudging 35° Celsius.) If in doubt about when to perform some gardening task in a Mediterranean climates, 'do it in autumn' is a good general rule.

Of course, the tasks that will need doing depend on the kind of garden in question. In this issue Flavio Zanon tells us about a quintessential Mediterranean garden created at the beginning of the century by an Englishman. Judith Barclay and Richard Morphy describe the making of gardens at the opposite ends of the Mediterranean, dealing with the problem of poor soil that is common to Spain and Greece. Sue Goumas lists many of the aromatic plants so perfectly adapted to this region - thriving in hot sun, unfussy about poor soil, undemanding of water and constant attention. Perhaps the 'garden' is a collection of pots on a terrace - and Duncan Ackery and Helene Pizzi both tell us about growing citrus fruit in pots and enjoying the culinary results.

Nevertheless, human nature being what it is, gardeners sometimes hanker for something different, something flamboyant or challenging perhaps. The challenge may be growing acid-lovers in areas of alkaline soil, or shady moisture-lovers in hot, bright sunlight; common sense may tell us that it can't really be done, ecological correctnes may tell us that it shouldn't be done - yet we still want to give it a try! And Tim Longville suggests just such a challenge for Mediterranean gardeners: those sirens of the swamp, lovers of damp feet and heat at their heads, the Louisiana irises.

Caroline Harbouri.
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