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As I write this it is officially Autumn, although my thermometer still hovers around 28 degrees, the trees are still wearing their foliage and not a sniff of a dew thus far. I am sure after another long dusty, dry and hot summer, gardeners, farmers and the local firemen are wishing for the first significant rains. Reservoirs are low, boreholes are dry and many pastures look parched and cracked. Let’s hope Mother Nature can help with some showers very soon but hopefully not all at once. Often the Mediterranean can be hit with significant rainfall after the summer that allow no time for the water to penetrate into the soil, resulting in dangerous flooding. I am sure many of us are itching to get back into the garden to carry out the autumnal chores. I recently thought of doing some light pruning on my perennials but had to stop as I noticed another bud had burst from the roses, my cestrum nocturnum was still in full flower, the strelitzia was still sending up more paradise birds and I still had sprays of plumes from my ornamental grasses. So the secateurs went back to the shed and there they will stay until my garden decides when it’s ready for a haircut. On a recent summer trip to UK we were lucky enough with the weather to visit some quite delightful gardens and it was interesting to see their agapanthus, hebe and echiums just starting off. I find the UK - and probably many other northern European countries, are approximately two to three months behind the Mediterranean regions in growing season, but each time I visit I see more and more species that are commonly found here so it’s wonderful to see how they can climatise very well 2000 miles further north. To see loquat, fig, almond and the strawberry tree not only in full foliage but producing fruit every year, shows how careful planning of your garden with protection from cold winds and sun traps increases the temperature just a few degrees to create the optimum conditions for a myriad of plants in your garden that you would otherwise not see unless on holiday. So if you’ve seen a particular species of plant on your travels and would love to enjoy it everyday in your own garden, perhaps you need to take special note of the conditions it seems to thrive on and see if you can recreate them at home. On a more architectural note, our article on page 38 on making your own courtyard with a Mediterranean influence, shows you how easy it can be achieved using a few plants, colours and odd items that you might have forgotten about at the back of your storage shed. We feel we have captured plenty of colour for this edition and thanks again to our wonderful team who are sharing all their knowledge, even I am learning from the articles! Medical Herbalist Poppy Burr, our new regular writer, explains how garlic has been scientifically proven to work better than the conventional chemical antibiotic equivalent. I am certain that Mother Nature holds the answer to many modern ailments - it might be a weed that refuses to die, it might be a plant that is considered invasive, it might be one of the mushrooms that Steve Andrews talks about in his article this month on page 44. There is still so much to learn from the natural world about us, and like you, I find I discover new things every day. Long may it continue.
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