Thanks to our less-than-glorious weather, British gardening relies on heavy use of mulching and greenhouse cultivation. Have you ever wondered how other climates and countries adapt to their weather patterns in order to keep their gardens green? We’re teaming up with Compost Direct, a leading UK compost bag retailer, to see what tricks we can learn from gardens around the globe.
Spain — successful shrubs in the sun
Spain has a beautiful Mediterranean climate. It’s home to around 310,000 UK expats who take advantage of the pleasant temperatures — but, for gardening lovers, how do they handle the heat and longer growing seasons?
Most of Spain’s soil is clay-based. This type of soil is quite heavy, can get very wet and extremely dry in the heat — making it difficult to manage at times. It does work well in Spain due to the high volume of sunlight and low levels of rain, as clay soil is less susceptible to drought. Plus, due to the warm temperatures, the earth doesn’t take as long to warm up, making plant germination an easier process.
Due to the heat, Spanish gardeners have to keep on top of hydrating their gardens. They often do this through infrequent, deep soakings. This technique can also help increase the drought tolerance of plants. It’s important to conserve as much moisture as possible, especially when growing trees. This is done through a technique called mulching where a layer of material (mulch) is applied to the surface of the soil.
In such climates, getting up early to pop plants in the morning sun is a great tactic. This process dries dew from the leaves and therefore reduces incidences of disease in the plants.
Which plants are common in a Spanish garden? The fig tree is often seen in warmer climates as they have a well-developed root system that is able to withstand dry conditions. Similarly, chives are often grown in the Spanish winter as they require high levels of sunlight but moist soil. Osteospermums are a member of the Daisy family that are often spotted growing in Spain — they cleverly close up during the night and open in the morning sun.
Iceland — happy plants in harsh weather
Hot springs, snow, and volcanoes are on the cards for Iceland. Most of the Icelandic population reside in the capital of Reykjavik, therefore any recreational gardening likely takes place around this area. How do they deal with the extreme temperatures and long winters?
Peat soil covers around 40% of Iceland. This is soil with high mineral content — giving plants a good opportunity to grow if it wasn’t for the extreme weather conditions. Although the soil does have many properties that make it suitable for agricultural utilisation, heavy fertilisation is needed. There are also low levels of clay present in the soil, causing increased susceptibility to erosion caused by the high winds in Iceland.
What can Icelandic gardeners do to protect their plants from the severe weather? To lessen crops’ exposure to the harsh weathers, greenhouses are often used. LED greenhouses in particular are popular and many of them are heated with the geothermal energy that powers the country. Indoor pollination is also sped up with the introduction of bees. High levels of fertiliser are also used to enable eroded soil to become more habitable for plants.
And which plants are strong enough to endure Iceland’s weather? The birch tree is one that can withstand the wind and cold — in fact, they covered 20% of the country before human settlement. The well-known herb of Angelica archangelica is one of the few plants that survived the last Ice Age and is most famous for its medical properties. There are a few types of roses that have been known to survive in Iceland too — species such as the Swedish bred ‘Huldra’ and the Latvian ‘Ritausma’ have been found to adapt to the climate.
Northern India — overcoming the elements
From dry deserts to humid tropical weather, India has a range of climates. Therefore, it depends where individuals live as to what grows nearby. In general, few people have gardens at home in India, but this is changing as people want to grow their own fresh produce.
Alluvial soil makes up 40% of India’s soil type. This type of soil is formed by the deposits of the sediments brought in by rivers. It’s made up of silt, sand and clay and is highly fertile with a grey appearance.
Monsoon season can be a challenge for Indian gardeners. Therefore, plants must be sown, planted, re-potted, propagated and de-weeded in July ahead of the monsoon season. In fact, constant de-weeding must be done as the humid weather can cause high amounts of unwanted growth. It’s also essential to prune existing plants ahead of the monsoon season to ensure that air and sunlight can reach every part of the plant.
With stunning red flowers in April to June, India is proud of its Gulmohar trees. Cumin is also popular in India as it’s drought-tolerant and sown from October until December. Similarly, the native Lotus flower requires warm sunlight and is intolerant to cold weathers.
Marrakesh, Morocco — keeping cool under the sun
Morocco’s weather conditions are something of a wild card. Towards the coastal plains, there are hot and dry summers with mild and wet winters. In the highlands and the mountains, rainfall is frequent.
Morocco’s soil consists of loam soil, and a clay-sand-silt mix. This soil is good for agriculture as it’s fertile, well-drained and easy-to-work.
Silver leaves and waxy textures are top choices for Moroccan gardeners, as these types of foliage don’t overheat easily. Horticulturists in Morocco often use shade netting which keeps soil and air temperature cool around the plant in the hot sun. Slow-releasing fertiliser is often used to restore lost nutrients from frequent watering.
The high temperatures of this country mean that trees like the olive tree, citrus fruit-bearing trees, and apricot trees all flourish. Similarly, lavender grows well in the full sun and well-draining soil found in the area. Succulents can be grown in the warmer temperatures too as their thick stems are adapted to retaining water — cacti, agaves and aloes are all examples of these.
Bring the world home
You can bring chives to your kitchen without heading to Spain, and the lotus flower can bloom in your home without jetting off to India! Which gardening techniques can you use to create a global garden here in the UK?
- Grow potted lemon trees outdoors in the summer and bring them inside for winter.
- Heated propagators can help with quick germination in lower temperatures.
- If you live in a shaded garden and want to grow roses, plant floribundas and spray roses instead of hybrid teas.