This is another post about the time I spent in Portugal earlier this year. To read the first post in this series please click here.
As well as visiting gardens Rosie also took us to a garden centre, Natura. It has the largest selection of Mediterranean plants in Portugal with 24 years experience in the Algarve. Not a bad reputation to have!
Display of plants in the polytunnels
Shading provided for hydrangeas
The Natura Garden Centres were established in 1993 by certified landscape designer Jean-Claude Defrance. Before relocating to the Algarve, Jean-Claude, originally from France, was instrumental in the formation and successful running of one of Western France’s largest garden centres.
Display of Hibiscus rosa-sinensis
He was drawn to the Algarve by its climate and natural beauty, it became the setting in which Jean-Claude was able to share his enthusiasm and passion for a more ecological way of landscape design, not only by using the classic indigenous variety of trees and plants that once flourished on the Algarve but also by introducing other varieties that would thrive in this environment. So successful was he in his endeavours that a second Natura Garden Centre opened in 1997.
Interesting Ficus benjamina specimen
I started my horticultural career by working in my local nursery, therefore I’m like a kid in a sweet shop when visiting any kind of garden centre. The sheer variety of plants at Natura was impressive, you could buy anything from trees, shrubs, climbers, perennials, rock and water plants, cacti and succulents. . . it was hard not to buy everything in sight! I was particularly tempted by the array of Hibiscus rosa-sinensis and Bougainvillea, the small cycads were also very cute.
Close-up of Bougainvillea
A big cork oak tree was outside one of the polytunnels
The selection of Olea europaea trees were awesome, they cost up to 8,000 euros. Bargain! A gorgeous Wisteria also wowed me, Wisteria floribunda ‘Violacea Plena’ had long racemes of double purple flowers. As well as plants Natura also had a complete range of environmentally friendly organic fertilisers and other garden support products and flower pots from France and Italy.
Wisteria floribunda ‘Violacea Plena’
Natura were also advertising Zoysia tenuifolia as Greenfolia, the no-mow lawn alternative. It offers itself as an ornamental groundcover that needs almost no care, including zero lawn mowing, no pest or diseases and a reduction in water consumption by 70%. Olivier Filippi, a pioneer in irrigation free gardening in the Mediterranean, highlights this species as a top lawn alternative.
Collection of olive trees
A very old Olea europaea
Visiting Natura was a great contrast to the other places we had seen in the week, even though we only saw one garden centre while in Portugal it was definitely the best.