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Gardens Blog

Mad about Myrtle

The area around the Adriatic is a plant fan’s dream – wild flowers in abundance and fields full of colour reflecting the decline in agriculture and increase in natural species. On a visit to Montenegro in June I paused in narrow lanes to marvel at drifts of Orlaya and Alchemilla, swaying in the sunshine with the air almond-scented by Clematis flammula which grows everywhere.

However my biggest delight came from the large, shiny evergreen bushes of Myrtle (Myrtus communis) bearing snow white flowers. Used to seeing this as a treasured specimen, it was a surprise to find it growing in thickets and led me to wonder why it is not found here more often. It is reasonably hardy, achieves 3m x 3m over time, has evergreen, fragrant foliage, beautiful flowers adored by bees, followed by berries so what’s not to like? Crocus have an even more enticing version, Myrtus communis subs. tarentina, which has pink tinted flowers and grows to a neat 1.5m x 1.5m. Given a sheltered place in the garden and a protective mulch over the winter, this beautiful shrub will repay you for years with style and interest.