The anatomy of an apartment garden on the Med

By Clodagh and Dick Handscombe – Holistic gardeners and authors living in Spain for 25 years.

The special opportunities of apartments on the Mediterranean

The Mediterranean coastal climate allows those who buy apartments around the Med to design and develop open air, low stress , low maintenance and healthy living spaces that make maximum use of available covered and open terraces, balconies and windowsills during most months of the year. Maximum use implies going beyond having a few window boxes or containers of traditional geraniums as discussed below.

The anatomy of a Mediterranean garden of Babylon

The ingredients of an effective garden in the sky include the following:

  1. Enables an outdoor lifestyle ,when in residence, for most of the year by amongst other things providing summer shade and sheltered opportunities for enjoying the winter sun.
  2. Installation of blinds, awnings and gazebos to provide shade for the family and plants.
  3. Holistic in that it is attractive, allows for daily wining and dining, and space for hobbies while growing a interesting mix of flowering and evergreen plants, culinary and medicinal plants, ones favourite fruits and a diverse tasty mix of smaller varieties of vegetables especially for salads. If you are too busy for the latter what about the kids?
  4. Making the best use of walls , ceilings, railings and an interesting mix of containers. The variety of containers now available is now vast. In ‘Apartment Gardening Mediterranean Style’ we include an ‘A to Z’ to enable readers to understand the possibilities and make practical creative choices. Growing tables not only allow for productive vegetable gardens but also for keen but gardeners to build up interesting collections in small spaces.
  5. On large rooftop terraces a pool area can be treated as a mini garden within a number on the roof. For smaller terraces Jacuzzis now come small as one metre square!
  6. Selection of comfortable furniture appropriate to the space available. Folding day time and evening time furniture majkes sense for small terraces.
  7. Collections of plants appropriate to the microclimate of the terraces, balconies and windowsills and the pattern of residency.
  8. To help make wise choices some hundred useful plants are grouped according to , loving the sun and not thirsty, can cope with full sun but thirsty, best in semi shade and can cope with full shade. Indications of relative thirstiness, salt resistances, frost resistances and perfume being included in descriptions.
  9. A variety of colour schemes painted with the many hues and textures of green foliage as well as the subtle or blazing colours of the flowers.
  10. Perfume throughout the year..
  11. Natural insect and fungal control by using plants with useful attributes and ecological products so as to be safe for the family and neighbours.
  12. The traditional restful and at times inspiring sound of dripping water from a fountain or mini water feature.
  13. The tasteful selection and placement of ornaments and groups of pots. Some of the later left empty and others planted up.
  14. The investment in a solar cooker. See the possibilities on www.alsol.es.
  15. Subtle lighting placed among the potted plants and on walls.
  16. Hiding stored items behind moveable hedge units.
  17. Don’t forget the windowsills –great places for collections of herbs, mini vegetables and strawberries as well as other plants.
  18. A pet hen or pair or quail for daily eggs….or a budgie or canary especially if living alone.

More about the above and many inexpensive creative ideas will be found in ‘Apartment Gardening Mediterranean Style’ ISBN 978-84-89954-86-1.

It’s about time that many apartment blocks look as green as the land on which they were built was some years before.

© Clodagh and Dick Handscombe June 2010.