Not all of us have years to spend coaxing strange and exotic plants to thrive in our perfectly-planned garden. Sometimes you just want to fill a garden space with colour and fragrance as quickly as possible, and it helps if we do it at a budget price, too.
A bright, colourful garden is something that lifts the spirits and cheers us up, and here on Lanzarote it’s something you can enjoy all year round instead of putting up with four months of mud, frost and cabbages.
The Canarian climate is so suitable for pelargoniums that there are several wild species on the islands. However, you can simply pop into a garden centre and fill your arms with bright, hardy geraniums in white, red, pink, purple or gorgeous variegated combinations.
Geraniums last for years and guarantee flowers if they’re watered and fertilised, and all you have to do is deadhead and trim leaves. If you don’t like their slightly sharp smell, keep them away from the home.
Here on frost-free Lanzarote, pansies and violas can be perennials rather than annuals, and they’re the perfect solution if you want a bit of delicate, exquisite colour in a low-lying border. Make sure they get some protection from the worst of the sun – either in the shade of a larger shrub or wall, or even better in a container, which can be moved to a shadier area or even indoors in the scorching summer.
Zinnias only last for one year, but the show they put on is so joyful and heart-lifting that they are a favourite choice for colour fans. Like little fireworks, they provide explosive bursts of red, orange, yellow, pink and white at a medium height of 1-2 feet. They’re also fairly low maintenance, surviving on moderate amounts of water and resistant to strong sunlight.
A summer favourite all over the world, this deceptively delicate flower provides vibrant oranges, reds and yellows and thrives in direct sun. Even if you’ve grown nasturtiums in cooler climates, you’ll find that you get even more pleasure from them on Lanzarote, where their distinct fragrance and even the peppery flavour of their leaves is heightened.
These rapid-growing climbers shoot up trellises and stone walls, and quickly put forth delicate, trumpet-shaped flowers which look fantastic spilling out of hanging baskets. They’re about as low maintenance as plants get, demanding only regular watering.
The Canarian sun seems to concentrate the fragrance of many flowers and herbs, and the hours before nightfall can often be a delightfully sensual experience if you choose the right flowers.
Some of those fragrances take years to develop – you won’t grow a citrus tree in a week – but others can be up and running in a few weeks.
Try lavender for a fast-growing, robust source of perfume, while sweet peas are a fragrant delight. Herbs such as thyme, oregano, mint and rosemary also add complexity to your garden scent.