An empty flower bed is just brimming with potential. But if you aren’t quite a gardening guru, choosing what, when and where to do the planting can be a challenge. Here are our top tips for preparing and maintaining a fabulous flower bed.
Check the conditions
Before you start working on your flower bed, take some time to monitor the conditions of the area. Keep note of how much sun the soil gets at different times of the day and whether there are any tall structures or trees providing shade.
Plants need light but, in Malta, direct summer sunshine is too strong for all but the hardiest succulents and cacti. A rock garden might be a suitable alternative if you have a patch of ground that is exposed to the harshest light conditions.
Your ideal flower bed will receive light for a good part of the day, not all of it. If your garden gets a lot of light, consider temporary shading structures to protect your plants at the hottest times of the year. These can be removed as the winter sets in to give your flower bed as much light as it can get in the colder, darker months.
Think about irrigation
You have tackled light… now it’s time to think about water. The islands’ arid climate means that most plants will need a helping hand to stay hydrated, though plants do differ in how much water they need and how often they need it. It’s a good idea to plant species with similar requirements close to one another to avoid over- or under-watering by accident.
A small flower bed can easily be watered with a watering can and a little elbow grease. But, if you have multiple large beds, consider installing a drip irrigation system. This can be activated manually or on a timer, which is a handy little gadget that will be particularly useful should you go on holiday.
A good irrigation system means that watering is less wasteful, as plants are given exactly the amount of water they need, as often as they need it. When using a drip system, be sure to inspect the various junctions and pipes every few months, replacing damaged sections as required. In such a hot and dry climate, pipes are prone to cracking more quickly, so do make sure to look over them at the start of each season.
Keep the little things in mind
The ‘little things’ we refer to here are the insects. Pollinators are experiencing a decline worldwide, which threatens the delicate ecological balance of our planet and also impacts our food supplies. Attracting insects to your garden can help create an oasis for these important creatures and keep your plants healthy too, as insects play an important part in plants’ life cycles.
Making your garden welcoming to a diverse range of species is fairly easy. Look into the kinds of flowering plants that attract insects and plant a few of those. Wildflowers do particularly well in parts of the garden that are unsuitable for other plants, which is a great way to make the most of all of your garden space.
Different insects have differently-shaped mouthparts, each specifically evolved to feed on particular types of flowers. Try to go for a variety of plants, rather than a lot of one type, to attract as many different species as possible. Then just stand back, and look forward to the butterflies!
Consider multi-purpose flower beds
If you have large flower beds or many small ones, you might consider reserving some space for fruit and veg. You don’t need a huge amount of space to grow things and there’s nothing quite like preparing and eating produce you have grown yourself.
Section off a part of your flower bed for easy growers like broad beans, root vegetables, lettuces and tomatoes. Even small spaces can lend themselves to multi-purpose growing. Rosemary, for instance, is a hardy plant that can be used to season food. Chives and thyme are also tough plants that will come in handy in the kitchen.
Some vegetables do double duty as a food and as ornamental additions to a flower bed. Onions are one such plant, growing long stalks topped with gorgeous globe-shaped flowers before they can be picked and eaten. Aubergines, turnips and even carrots can add colour to your flower bed while they are growing into healthy, delicious ingredients.
Looking for your next property with a garden project included? Get in touch with REMAX Malta, the real estate experts who can help you find the perfect fit.