Thu 8 Sep 2011
This was our third year of organising a Garden Fair on the Algarve and we were all a bit nervous that we might have become a bit boring by constantly encouraging folk to get rid of their lawns, plant drought tolerant gardens and use native plants. Our wonderful volunteers rallied round once again and the nurseries were keen to take part – how could we say no!
The response was just fabulous, and we would like to take this chance to thank everyone who came and supported us on the day. We were incredibly lucky with the weather as the day dawned bright and clear following days with heavy rain and high winds, and this in the week when even the airport roof had blown off.
Our big annual fund raiser on Saturday 5th November turned out to be a truly amazing day, we had over 500 people through the gate. The car parking was really busy at times but we got there in the end, everyone was very patient while the various areas were opened up. Our own Mediterranean Garden Society plant sales area was very well supplied with plants from our own gardens, the volunteers who were running this busy stand did a fantastic job and our funds have had a marvellous boost for the year ahead. A popular choice was the lavenders propagated by members earlier in the year. These had grown away well and disappeared into bags very quickly.
The selected small plant nurseries all had terrific sales. I know that they had worked hard on selecting their plants and making sure they were in tip top condition. The rain had finally arrived to make this a perfect time to get plants into the ground. I spent all day looking after the talks and demonstrations – it seems we are finally getting our message across. It is possible to have a lovely garden that does not require constant irrigation and does not contain lawns or palm trees, told you it could get boring !
For me the star of the show was the fantastic display of over 20 different varieties of cistus (Rock Rose) species and wild hybrids. These were among the many drought tolerant plants brought down to the fair from a nursery in Holland owned by MGS members, Jan and Anny Bos. They have a holiday home on the west coast near Odemira and they have used their experience of gardening on the Algarve to make a careful selection of their most successful Algarve plants. These plants were propagated and brought down to the Fair on Saturday. There are some wonderful cistus hybrids which cover themselves in flowers in spring. The parents of these hybrids are the native plants of many Mediterranean areas, including the Algarve. I have never seen such a wonderful selection of plants offered for sale here before.
As well as the nurseries and their displays of plants for sale, we ran a programme of talks and demonstrations. These covered natural swimming ponds, biodynamic cultivation and gardening with native plants. The demonstrations were concentrating on propagating techniques so that we can all make more of the plants that do best for us in our own gardens. Topics covered seed collection and sowing, and basic grafting techniques. The workshop on cuttings over ran madly but everyone enjoyed seeing MGS member John Vellam talk us through using secateurs the right way round (when we did not know there was a wrong way !). He also took the opportunity to insult the compost I had provided for him to use which caused some amusement. Everyone went home with a bag full of plant material to make their own cuttings at home. We hope to see some photos next year of the successful progeny.
Many people were kind enough to say that they thought the venue near Faro was a lovely setting for our garden fair. The large marquee had a mixture of exhibitors, from cakes, jams and herbs & spices to a mosaic demonstration and a book stall. It was an amazing day and the happy faces, and arms filled with bags of plants were a joyful sight – maybe we will do it all again next year – when we have recovered !This was our third year of organising a Garden Fair on the Algarve and we were all a bit nervous that we might have become a bit boring by constantly encouraging folk to get rid of their lawns, plant drought tolerant gardens and use native plants. Our wonderful volunteers rallied round once again and the nurseries were keen to take part – how could we say no!