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April 29, 2020 – Published in Design & Decor Spring 2015 issue

Spring calling

Words: Marika Azzopardi

Photographs: Alan Carville

We are all looking forward to some sunshine to warm our bones, dry our homes and get those flowers blooming. Envisage flower-laden paths, window-boxes loaded with luscious blooms, yards and green gardens which should be easy to achieve after all the bountiful rainfall. 

But a non-green finger might mean your much aspired-for flower garden may not ever materialise. 

You might believe that cultivating flowers is one impossible feat only achievable by the experts. According to Wigi Micallef of the Green Supplier Nurseries of Burmarrad, this is not the case, and flowering blooms can be achieved with some care and dedication. After all, his mission has always been to encourage people to grow plants successfully year in, year out.

Malta can accommodate a good handful of colourful flowering plants such as the Geranium, Petunia, Pansy, Gasania, Lobelia or Elyssium. Consider the Pansy. This seasonal plant can be enjoyed through to the end of June when the heat of a Maltese summer takes on. Pansies are available in a wide range of colours as well as in variegated colour combinations, such as purple/yellow or purple/orange. This flowering plant with its smallish but profuse blooms, resists the cold, wind and rough weather well and that is why it is so often found in public gardens and roundabouts. Any outdoor area will do for a pansy even though during May and June, as the weather warms up, some shade is beneficial. If it is not possible to shade the pansy during these two months, then one must remember to compensate by watering that little bit more.

The carpet of petunias at the nursery gives the impression of these being delicate flowers with their soft pinks, whites, purples, lilacs… But in actual fact petunias are among the most hardy of blooms. They are also well priced to fit into the most humble of gardening budgets, so that mistakes needn’t become expensive ones. Petunias withstand the sun well and if well taken care of, can survive all year round. They can be placed in full sun but they do not prefer the very strong Maltese sunshine as we experience it in July and August. Petunias live happily in moveable troughs so they can be transferred to a shady location during the hotter months. Water regularly and seek advise at the first sign of whitefly. With shade, water, fertilisers and loving care, petunias can survive summers, be trimmed in September and well-fertilised in preparation for re-flourishing. 

An alternative to the petunia is the gasania which basically requires the same sort of care given to the petunia. It also comes in several different colours but whilst the petunia remains open even at night, the gasania will ever so demurely partially close its petals to sleep. Some of the hardier varieties will creep and expand in flower beds and so it is advisable to enquire about the characteristics of each variety before planting in a limited space or one encroached by other species. This plant will thrive from year to year if it settles happily in its allotted patch of earth so be careful where you place it.

Mr Micallef reminds that well/rain water is the best for plants. The second best option is bottled water although this does not have certain minerals that have to be supplemented with the appropriate variety of fertiliser. If tap water is used, this should not be given straight from the tap. He advises allowing a quantity of tap water to settle for a day or so in a container. This will effectively allow chlorine content to deposit on the bottom and one can proceed to water the plants safely minus the concentration of chlorine.” 

By selecting hardy plants, dedicating some daily attention and following professional advise, flowering blooms can really thrive happily making your spring-time surroundings a blissful sight for sore eyes.

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

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