Of Plants & Garden Centres in Mallorca


Osteospermum thriving in the stony soil of our garden

I’ve just had my annual garden centre splurge, buying some plants for our finca in the Mallorcan countryside. Garden centre visits were rather more frequent when we lived in the UK, where these tempting places are also open on Sundays and offer much more than the average jardinería on Mallorca. Many of the UK versions sell decorative items for the home and garden, and have a café where you can indulge yourself in a mid-shop stop for refreshments.

In our early months of living on Mallorca, we were quite disappointed by the garden centres local to us – which were more like plant nurseries than those tempting places we knew in the UK. A favourite had been Burford Garden Company in the Cotswolds. Now that’s what I call a garden centre.

We did manage to find some decent plants and some helpful assistants in our local places, and were hopeful that we’d have a good show of colourful flowers later in the spring. Little did we know . . .


Within a week of planting our first purchases, there was nothing left to see. The rabbits – and there were many of them back then – had scoffed the lot! Since then we have become adopted by a family of feral cats (and a few feline hangers-on), and we have rarely seen any rabbits on our land. Can you blame them?

We also discovered that our land isn’t suitable for many plants, being mainly rocky and with only a shallow layer of poor-quality soil. Typical Mediterranean plants do well, but other plants struggle. Succulents, cacti, lavenders, rosemary, and osteospermum are among those plants that do well on our land.

The rabbit experience shaped our gardening habits. I started taking cuttings from existing plants, knowing that if the new plant died (or was eaten), it wouldn’t have cost us anything. Neighbours gave us ‘babies’ from their aloe veras and other succulents. I did invest in two climbing roses last year by mail order from David Austin; one quickly died, but the other is thriving.

A Recommended Garden Centre

My recommendation for a good garden centre on Mallorca? It would have to be Fronda (formerly known as Magatzem Verd) in Palma (it’s just off the Via Cintura and with a smaller branch near the Fan Shopping Centre at Coll d’en Rebassa). It’s probably because the place is most like the garden centres we knew and loved back in the UK. Unusually, on Mallorca, it’s open on Sundays – although we never shop on this day of the week. It doesn’t yet have a cafe, but maybe one day?

On Friday, I steered an enormous trolley around this garden centre, mentally spending a fortune on glorious colourful plants. In reality, it was just a few euros for the year’s new geraniums and herbs.

We must have saved a fortune on plant purchases since moving to Mallorca . . .

©Jan Edwards 2015

English roses for a Mallorcan garden

When we first moved to Mallorca we brought with us a beautiful rose called ‘Celebration’ – a gift to us from a friend called Judy, with whom I’d worked at the BBC. It had happily been living in a pot in the UK and when we arrived here we located it carefully on the terrace, so that it wouldn’t be subjected to the fiercest heat of the day. Sadly, Judy passed away too early (a victim of cancer) and the lovely rose she’d given us took on a new significance. So we were very sorry to lose her rose as well.

Not knowing a lot about gardening – and roses in particular – I assumed that the climate wasn’t right for roses. But our Swiss neighbours have recently landscaped their finca‘s garden and planted a lot of David Austin roses. Perhaps if I bought roses direct from this renowned rose grower – whose roses are exported around the world – they would survive?

Best of British

It had to be worth a try. I ordered two bare-root climbing roses from the efficient export department of David Austin, on the Shropshire border in the UK. When the roses arrived, through the post, the challenge began. I knew where I wanted them to go: one was to climb an almond tree near the house (where its fragrance would surely drift towards the guest room window); the other would climb the wall on our dining terrace and scent our summer evenings. There was just a small problem. The earth at the bottom of the wall was more rock than soil – and the soil was pretty solid too.

This was another consequence job: as a consequence of buying the rose – the delightfully named ‘Lady Hillingdon’ – The Boss had to create some means of planting it. He duly set about building a raised bed for the ‘lady-in-waiting’, into which we could put some decent soil and compost.  And I must say that he did a pretty fantastic job of it. Her Ladyship obviously approved as she’s growing rapidly – and we (or rather The Boss) will have to erect a trellis pretty soon.

Lady Hillingdon in her new home on Mallorca

Lady Hillingdon in her new home on Mallorca

Something’s been snacking . . .

The other rose – ‘Golden Gate’ – was duly planted (without too much difficulty) at the base of an almond tree. It got off to a great start until I checked it a day or two ago and found that every leaf has been eaten, leaving just a few bare stems. Will it recover? I’m afraid I haven’t a clue!