Sunday, September 20, 2009

Mediterranean Garden Society

I hosted a visit from the Victorian branch of the Mediterranean Garden Society yesterday. The MGS is an international group dedicated to gardening in tune with their Mediterranean climate with plants that can cope, rather than fighting the climate by adding huge amounts of water to keep unsustainable landscapes going.
The association was founded in Greece in 1994 and "acts as a forum for everyone who has a special interest in the plants and gardens of mediterranean climate regions." The society also publishes a fabulous quarterly journal and maintains a garden called 'Sparoza' just outside Athens which members can visit. Mediterranean climates can be found in the countries that surround the Mediterranean Sea, Southern California, South Africa, the west coast of Central Chile, the SW of Western Australia and the southern parts of South Australia. As climate change continues its inexorable march, more countries may experience this type of climate - indeed it seems parts of Victoria are already feeling more Mediterranean by the day. It was great to get together with other gardeners and discuss the vagaries of gardening in an increasingly drier climate. Swapping success stories and learning from each other's failures is what its all about! If you live in a Mediterranean climate you should consider joining this worthwhile group.
The first photo shows me (second from the right) bragging about the growth of my fabulous furcraea (the spiky thing next to the water bowl) to some of the members and their friends. Also in the shot is a beaucarnea (on the left) and my wonderful river of silvery Cotyledon orbiculata which I never cease to rave about. All these plants are extremly drought tolerant. The second photo shows the members standing in my yellow and blue garden with a yellow forsysthia on the right. The forsythia is not particularly drought tolerant and therefore struggles a bit in my garden.
This photo shows the revamped garden bed beneath our bedroom window. Quite a few people expressed an interest in this bed. This bed faces due north and is the hottest, driest bed in the garden. I replanted this bed in April as I had to pull everything out when I repainted this end of the house. Everything in this bed is succulent as it is up against the house (succulents are hard to burn) and north is the direction from which a bushfire would be likely to come. You can see my collection of named aeoniums across the back. Then from the left there is a dwarf white agapanthus, Cotyledon macrantha, Senecio serpens, Echeveria 'Black Prince', Yucca filamentosa, a dudleya (I think), Cotyledon orbiculata 'Silver Waves', a corpuscularia, another echeveria, Beschorneria yuccoides etc. Around the edge I have planted double rows of small rosetting echeverias and sempervivums just to see how they perform. All I have to do now is mulch this bed with an inorganic mulch like gravel. We have a nice one available around here called 'Tuscan Toppings' which is a creamy tan coloured sandstone and should look good.
You can see that the 'lawn' has all but disappeared. We have not been allowed to water lawns with mains water here for the last few summers and this is the result. What should I replace the lawn with? Kikuyu grass? Soft leaf buffalo grass? (which would have to be handwatered with water from the dam probably fortnightly). Synthetic turf? Gravel?

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