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Gardening with Drought-Friendly Plants

Tony Hall

Kew Publishing, May 2020

This book was clearly written for British gardeners with the effects of global warming in mind, and the impact these may have on their gardens. The author’s target audience may also be those with a maison secondaire in the Mediterranean basin.

However, from my experience it is simply impossible to transfer gardening knowledge gained at Kew, with the occasional trip to Mediterranean climate countries, to describe the practicalities of gardening in the Mediterranean basin. The intense heat (and from all accounts it’s getting hotter), the almost complete lack of moisture in the air, the back to front gardening seasons, the downpours of rain and the thin, stony alkaline soils, all of which make plant selection so difficult but which makes Mediterranean gardens unique and what they are!

There are chapters on global warming and how it affects gardens, plant adaptations, low maintenance gardens, small gardens and a Plant List. This is arranged by category, including bulbs, climbers, grasses, palms, perennials, shrubs and so on. This is fine, however what in my view is the most important group of plants « the aromatics » – plants which define Mediterranean gardening, are lost amongst the others!

I found it impossible to read this book without comparing it to Olivier Filippi’s The Dry Gardening Handbook. Of course, there is no comparison, but then Filippi ‘lives’ his gardening.

Some drought-friendly plants recommended by Tony Hall:

Phlomis russeliana
Agapanthus campanulatus ‘Cobalt Blue’
Glaucum flavum

Review by David Bracey – Mediterranean Gardening France