My Five Favourite… in Gardening

This month were talking about five of our favourite things. In the horticultural world my five favourite things are:

1) The Canary Island Date Palm. – Phoenix Canariensis

The Canary Island Date Palm is the palm that is ubiquitous all over the Mediterranean, it is not to be confused with the true date palm (Phoenix Dactylifera), which we get our date fruit from. Instead the Canary Island Date Palm creates inedible fruit that has a similar appearance to edible dates. However it has such a majestic and resolute appearance and outside of the tropics is quite possibly the best known palm tree. With its beautiful feathery leaves and textured trunk it makes quite a statement.

Canary Island Date in Miranda Do Corvo town square, with Myself and Kyle standing at the base for scale.

2) The Bird of Paradise. – Strelitzia Reginae

The Bird of Paradise is often kept as a houseplant here but makes a fine garden plant in favourable climes, it has long green stems with leathery, tough leaves and creates the most magical flowers that resemble the beautiful plumage of the birds of paradise. It makes a fine houseplant for keeping near a large sunny window or in a conservatory and can take several years before flowering. Despite this it is well worth the wait and won’t disappoint.

Bird of Paradise Flower, Coimbra.

3) Covered Pathways. – Using Vines or Roses etc

The Covered Pathway is an amazing way to create a sense shelter yet allow one to be in greater touch with the natural world. This often takes many years of careful pruning and management and of course a sound structure on which to grow the vines. However if done correctly it can create the most amazing space and a real sense of wonder.

Grape Vine Covered Arch Passageway, Winchester.

4) Spanish Dagger. – Yucca Gloriosa

The Spanish Dagger plant is a true architectural gem, it has very spiky deep green leaves (although a variegated one is available) and creates the most magnificent flower columns of cream flowers. Despite its common name and even though it is seen all over the Mediterranean, the Spanish Dagger is in fact a native of North America, this particular species has to cope with fierce continental winters and therefore is hardy in the UK, given good drainage. It makes a good addition to most borders and makes a fine specimen plant, but do take care as the leave tips are unforgivably sharp.

Yucca Gloriosa in the snow. In a British suburban front garden.

5) Water Features. – Fountains and Water Rocks

A Water Feature makes a fine addition to any garden, it creates the most soothing sound and can help to create ambience. Water features were traditionally stand alone specimens such as a large fountain and meant to dominate a space. However a more contemporary interpretation of a water feature are the use of natural stones and pebbles to create the effect of a brook. Another modern concept of a water feature is the use of an architectural water spout to create a fascinating effect.

Grand Water Fountain and Pond in the Coimbra Botanical Garden, Central Portugal.