Holiday at home
Zur deutschen Version – Many have already decided that 2020 will be the year for holidaying at home. Why not? You don’t have to worry about a stressful journey, whether the bed will be as comfortable as your own, if the food will be nice. The biggest concern for many is who will look after the plants?
Asking a neighbour to look after the hamster or feed the goldfish is not complicated. It is easy to explain how much and how often they should be fed. Asking somebody to water the plants is a different kettle of fish. All plants have different water requirements. Those that originate from desert-like regions prefer drier conditions, whereas those that naturally grow in moist conditions for example along a riverbank, require more water. The evaporation rate also depends on temperature, humidity, sunlight and wind. The larger it becomes, the more a plant will require water. How do you explain a novice that one plant needs more water when it is hotter, when it is sunny, but that when it is cool and rainy, they should leave it. That the little pot full of coriander will wilt more quickly than the rosemary. Plants can just as easily be killed by over watering, as by underwatering.
Now that the weather warms up, it is time to plan your balcony or your terrace. To make it really successful, it is important to give it a theme that will help to create a coherence. So what were your holiday plans? Are you planning on a Mediterranean trip, or off to somewhere more exotic like the Bahamas? Are you aiming for a gourmet tour of France, a garden tour in the Cotswolds, ordo you feel more like going on a yoga retreat? Whichever it is to be, now is the time to start planning which plants and colours would suit your preferred them best.
Think of the plants that you associate with your holidays to Italy, France, Spain or Greece? Immediately landscapes dotted with olive groves, vineyards, citrus trees and lavender fields spring to mind. Houses brightened with colourful bougainvilleas and oleander, large pots of Agapanthus dotted along the terraces. A few tasty tomatoes, basil, oreganum and rosemary will accompany your ice cold glass of rosé perfectly! If space allows, plant some artichokes or cardoons for their attractive foliage and intense purple flowers much loved by bees.
England fans that love the quaint old villages and charming cottages can have the feel with typical cottage garden plants. Topiary or other formal clipped structures combined with a sea of flowers such as Cosmos, dahlias, catmint, Ladies’ Mantle, Erigeron karvinskianum, campanulas and lovely scented pinks and of course roses with Clematis. To accompany your afternoon tea, make sure you have some fresh strawberries. Alpine strawberries make good underplanting for a small apple tree.
The calming meditation environment
If you have a shady spot, use this to create a lush, green feeling. Interesting foliage plants such as hostas and ferns, create a good contrast with the strap-shaped leaves of grasses.
A small water feature, or just a shallow dish of water will provide a reflective surface and offer a valuable drinking place for birds and insects.
Hide yourself in a jungle of tall, large-leaved plants and surround yourself by strong, bold colours. Palm tree and bananas add great structure and height. A bougainvillea will provide stunning colour, Cannas as well as the humble dahlia can add a bright colourful touch. Choose the larger deeper colours. Hardy, perennial plants that will add to this exotic effect are Hemerocallis, the tall Rudbeckias and tall grasses like Miscanthus. Make sure you don’t run out of for your evening coctails!
The gourmet paradise
Fresh herbs are indispensable for the keen cook. A good supply of fresh basil, coriander, chervil, dill, parsley, estragon, lovage, rosemary and thyme are some of the basics that are wonderful to use. Sheltered from rain, it is also nice to grow special tomatoes such as the tiny yellow or red blackcurrant varieties. Aubergines and peppers add colour and excitement to a terrace as well as a dish. I love growing colourful mangold and purple or yellow beans. Both are vegetables that provide a long picking season. Different salads, sown in small quantities at regular intervals will keep you supplied all summer long. Similarly for radishes: keep sowing them: they grow fast and provide a delicious crunchy snack.
I wish you a nice, long successful holiday, wherever it is your journey takes you!