15Sep 2023

Kent Beauty found in Dorset

We noticed this plant at Abbotsbury during the 2019 Dorset tour. It was not labelled but was subsequently identified by John Fielding as Origanum ‘Kent Beauty’ from a photo I took.  We planted one on our rock garden in autumn 2020, where it has performed magnificently, as you can see. Its pink/purple bracts provide the display and last for at least two months before fading in late August; the small flowers are well hidden but attract a good number of bees. This plant is said to be a hybrid between O. rotundifolium and O. scabra and it received an AGM in 2012. We did not find many suppliers when we were looking but it seems more widely available now, so perhaps its reputation is growing.  Being Mediterranean, it enjoys a dry sunny location and is strongly recommended. The RHS is conducting a large trial of Origanum cultivars this year so it will be interesting to know how Kent Beauty performs, and if there are rivals of similar style. – Michael Turner

13Sep 2023

Water wisdom

Torrential rain is an unwelcome feature of climate change, relatively little discussed in comparison with rising temperatures. There have been catastrophic instances in the Mediterranean basin in recent months, notably in Libya, Greece, northern Italy and Spain. Sudden downpours on a small scale can ruin gardens, albeit not threatening human life. Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh’s “rain garden” attempts to intercept excessive rain, reducing run-off and flooding, as do experiments at the London Wetland Centre. See the Financial Times’ recent article about the RBGE and how soil, plants and design can combat wetter weather caused by climate change. Members who are not FT subscribers may email MPG to ask for a link. Thank you to Michael Turner for the picture of RBGE’s rain garden.

31Aug 2023

Wildfires threaten MPG affiliate in Canada

Wildfires near the city of West Kelowna, British Columbia, home of MPG’s sister association the Okanagan Xeriscape Association (OXA), have burnt 13,000 hectares of forest, some remarkable xeriscape gardens and homes. Hundreds of households have been ordered to evacuate, including that of OXA’s president, now camping on the other side of the lake in a friend’s garden. The climate of the area, 400km east of Vancouver, is sunny, mild and dry rather than typically Mediterranean but OXA – like MPG – promotes water-wise gardening. OXA is one of the six members of Mediterranean Gardening International (MGi) to which MPG has been affiliated for ten years. For amazing statistics on water consumption, the meaning of “xeriscape” and plants suited to the area see their interesting website

2Aug 2023

Ancient wreath of Helichrysum stoechas

This 1700-year-old funerary wreath was found in a tomb of the Roman period in a pyramid at Hawara, about 100km south of Cairo, Egypt. It has survived due to the dry climate. The “everlasting flower” is bushy and compact, with tiny bright yellow flowers, and has been used medicinally throughout the Mediterranean particularly in the Iberian peninsula. The wreath is on display at the British Museum. Image: © Trustees of the British Museum

12Jul 2023

New Bursary Committee chairman

Kevin Begley has taken over today as chairman of the Bursary Committee, following the retirement of Cathy Rollinson who has chaired this committee since 2019. Previous chairmen were Michael Turner and David Mason. Coolwater, Kevin’s garden in County Limerick, Ireland, has a remarkable plant collection and is open to the public by appointment. MPG offers bursaries to members for educational, conservation or research projects and to subsidise participation in an MPG event.

2Jul 2023

New Tours Committee chairman

Stephen Cole has taken over from Maddy Hughes as chairman of the Tours Committee which she has chaired since it was first set up in July 2018. Stephen enjoys walking in the Mediterranean and gardening at home and in his allotment. He has worked in photography, a wine company, computing and for a local authority. Maddy has stepped down from the Tours Committee but remains on the Management Committee. Stephen is standing unopposed for election to the Management Committee at the AGM on 12 July.

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