Selecting Spanish Summer Plants

By Clodagh and Dick Handscombe

The seven dimensions of choice

In our book Your Garden in Spain – From planning to planting and maintenance we include guidelines for plantings in different types of location from the coastal plain to inland valleys and mountainsides and descriptions with photographs of some four hundred plants as the basis for designing and planting up your garden whether new of a long established one looking a little tired and ready for rejuvenation.

Your plant choices need to take into account the following information.

  • The microclimate of your garden especially the maximum and minimum likely temperatures season by season.
  • The drought and frost resistance of both young and well established plants.
  • The mature heights and widths of plants.
  • The flower and leaf colours available.
  • Whether the leaves, flowers, or fruits are perfumed.
  • The time of first or only flowerings.
  • How long they will continue to flower if well planted and cared for.

Two choices are particularly important to the summer garden as in many cases that is when the garden will be at it’s most colourful

Painting with plants.

Firstly choices re overall colour schemes.

In Your Garden in Spain we include a special chapter entitled Painting with plants which explains in detail with practical examples our creative idea of the ‘Seven C’s of colour combining’

  • Common colours
  • Compatible colours
  • Complementary colours
  • Clashing colours
  • Calming colours
  • Cold colours
  • Caliente (hot) colours

There is scope for all possibilities in a Spanish summer garden.

Variations in duration of flowerings

Secondly it could be boring if all the plants in your garden were all in flower for the entire summer with no short term surprises or short term changes in colour mixes. We discussed this on our REM radio spot this week and included the following examples.

Some plants that flower for the following periods if planted well and cared for.

  • 1 to 2 days – Epiphylums, epicacti and other cacti.
  • 1 month – Summer lilies, crocasmias and agapanthus.
  • 3 months – San diego, bignonias, brazilian flame vines, devils tongues, frangipanes, choricias, lagastromeas, marsh hibiscus, lavenders.
  • 6 months – Lantanas, hibiscus, bougainvilleas, passion flowers, plumbago, petunias, portulacas, and leonothis.

Planning for autumn and spring plantings

Against this background review how successful your plantings have been during this summer and start to plan changes ready for autumn and spring plantings. The descriptions of plants in Part Four of Your Garden In Spain

Include botanical, Spanish and English names to help you find your way round the displays in local garden centres and to order plants to ensure that they are not out of stock when you want them.

© Clodagh and Dick Handscombe July 2008.