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July 14, 2020 – Published in Design & Decor Summer 2013 issue

Spring – the bringer of flowers

Words: Marika Azzopardi

Photography: Alan Carville

I had been eyeing my home’s two courtyards for a while and wondering how on earth I could vamp them up a little. Some change of greenery was seriously required and so I drove up to Green Supplier Ltd of Burmarrad to find some interesting plants to re-locate to these two very different outdoor spaces.

Now my home’s courtyards have two very unique characters. One is small, contained, shaded and cooped up between four walls. The other is somewhat larger, wider, sunnier and facing south and surrounded by the neighbours’ yards and gardens. Two options, two settings and of course, as I have come to appreciate over the many years we’ve been living in this house, two completely different kinds of demands where plant satisfaction is concerned.

Let’s start from the inner courtyard, that very Maltese architectural creation, invented out of necessity rather than out of finesse. As most inner courtyards do, this one spends most of its year in the shade and even during summer, I make it a point to shade it further to alleviate the mid-morning to early afternoon sun from spilling its heat into the rooms which overlook this yard. So whilst during the winter the shade is humid and cold, during the summer the shade is humid and sultry…

Some of the best plants to grow within this scenario are the fern species which adapt well to low light conditions. Foliage is as diverse as possible and therefore even if I just stick to ferns, I know I will have a great entourage of greenery to enjoy. I know that all I have to do is keep the humidity going yet avoid them having wet feet by raising the pots onto pebbles in their tray; avoid direct sunlight at all costs as this will burn the leaves which means the shading apparatus has to be rigorously drawn especially around midday.

I look through the stock of plants at Green Supplier Ltd and discover some of the most hardy varieties such as the Chamaedorea. A big favourite is the Ladder Fern which I know from experience is one of the hardiest ferns despite being delicate looking. Similar to this is the Boston Fern or the Rooseveltii. And then there is the small dainty Maidenhair Fern which literally thrives in humidity so I like to place it next to the well or next to a water spout where humidity is especially elevated.

Then I venture off to look at the flowering Begonias which, whilst enjoying the shade, are surprisingly flowered with those dainty delicate looking flowers that thrive so well in this setting. Colours are soft and delicate and many people consider the begonia as a delicate plant itself. Being a succulent, the stems are sensitive to overwatering or wet feet and develop fungal disease and rot easily. However, keep them well-drained, away from flooding and away from direct sun, and these plants will flower and flourish happily. The Foliage Begonias are larger and bolder in character, but just as easy to keep and provide more impact.

Next stop takes me to examine what is suitable for the sunnier yard at the back of the house. Now since this is southfacing, I know from experience that my safest bet is always to choose from the succulent varieties and if these root well, they usually reward me with plenty of their very curiously shaped flowered stalks. For many years, I enjoyed asking friends and neighbours for cuttings but here at Green Supplier Ltd I can buy small plants in pot and grow them myself even more quickly, so that I’m the one to offer cuttings to friends and neighbours. I choose from some different sized Mother-in-Law’s Tongue alias the Sansevieria Trifasciata. Having planted one of these in the ground it surprised me when it sprouted long stalks of white strongly fragranced flowers.

Then there is the Petunia with its varied flowers that take over their pots and slot themselves easily to fill up empty and dull spaces that bask in sunshine. A small Hibiscus completes my collection which will find itself repotted as it grows further, in the several colourful pots I also get from this very well-stocked nursery in Burmarrad. I cannot wait to put everything in place for it all to start flourishing…

Contact Louis Micallef at Green Supplier Ltd, Flower & Plants Growers, Mdawra Road, Burmarrad. Enquiries: 2157 1428

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