Roy Lancaster at MGS Conference, Portugal
Roy Lancaster at MGS Conference, Portugal

A three-day conference organised by the Mediterranean Garden Society, started on Friday 1st March at the Pine Cliffs Sheraton Hotel near Albufeira.  The Conference is called Friends and Foes in the Mediterranean Garden.   Roy Lancaster was the key speaker on Saturday.  He is a British gardener and broadcaster, known for his work on the long running  BBC TV programme Gardeners’ World.  He has also regularly appeared on the BBC Radio show Gardeners’ Question Time and is also a freelance writer and lecture

He gave a clear, fun and passionate, illustrated talk, to keen Algarve gardeners, suggesting over 30 plants they should look for, from China, Mexico and other arid climates.   One of his suggestions was a giant honeysuckle, Lonicera calcarata from China, that climbs to over 100 feet.   From the same region, he also suggested Actinidia tetramera var. maloides. This is a vigorous climber, with narrow, taper pointed leaves that are tipped with a variably sized pure white blotch.  It has coral-pink saucer-shaped flowers in spring.

 abutilon - red tiger
abutilon – red tiger

Another favorite plant of Roy’s is the abutilon – red tiger.  This is native to South America and a perennial that produces thin, yellow flowers with red veins.

Jim Gardiner, head of the Royal Horticultural Society, also spoke and gave an overview of the society’s work at four main gardens.  These four flagship gardens in England are at : Wisley Garden, in Surrey; Rosemoor Garden in Devon; Hyde Hall in Essex and Harlow Carr in Harrogate, North Yorkshire.

Over the weekend and Monday, delegates will be visiting gardens across the Algarve.  For more information contact the organiser Rosie Peddle at rosie@thebtf.net

Sunrise on the way to the MGS Conference
Sunrise on the way to the MGS Conference
Coffee at the MGS Conference
Coffee at the MGS Conference