Monthly Archives: January 2016

Coping with drought, wind and salt

Two years ago, when I visited Essaouira for the first time I noticed that much of the seafront was newly developed and had been very recently planted. It was an excellent opportunity to study the methods used in Morocco to fortify plants, and indeed the soil, against the tumultuously strong winds and the severe lack of rainfall. The photos below were taken in March 2014 and show the use of pipes for automatic irrigation, plastic membrane to protect against soil erosion and drought, and stones to weight down the membrane.


Planting in 2014


Returning to Essaouira this week it was interesting to see how the planting in this area had developed. Taken yesterday, the photos below show how robust, wind-tolerant, ground cover plants such as Santolina, Aloe and Tulbaghlia have filled out the space, almost entirely obscuring the white membrane covering the soil.


Planting in 2016


Elsewhere along the seafront it was interesting to see what other methods the town have used to protect against the severe climatic conditions. The photos below show how white paint is used on the trunks of trees such as the iconic Norfolk Island Pine (Araucaria heteriphylla) to reduce transpiration (water evaporation) through lenticels (pores) on the tree trunk, how stakes are used to support trees against the wind, and how shelters built of Eucalyptus poles and semi-permeable fabric are used as windbreaks for standard trees.


Wind protection methods - scaffolding and white paint


It was also interesting to see how the growth of plants is effected by the strong Essaouira winds. As you can see from the photo below many of the Norfolk Island Pines have become unmistakably lop-sided under the influence of the wind. This large wind farm, seen in the distance, has been set up to harness the wind’s potential.


Wind Damage on Norfolk Island PineA Wind Farm on an island outside of Essaouira

Coping with drought, wind and salt 2017-11-01T13:44:21+00:00

Plant life in Essaouira

Last week, Diana and I visited Essaouira to meet with REEP’s Moroccan counterparts to discuss the development of REEP projects in Morocco in 2016-17. We’ll keep you updated on our progress!

Having posted earlier in the week about the early flowering daffodils back home in England, we thought it would be interesting to make a note of what’s in flower here in Essaouira. Yesterday, I took a wander around the town and made a note of what was in flower. Fortunately my National Trust garden training has not completely deserted her as I think I was able to recognise most of them!

Below, clockwise from top left: Lampranthus (yellow), Lampranthus (pink), Argyranthemum, Oleander, Miscanthus, Tulbaghlia, Santolina (cotton lavender), Aloe.

Essaouira Flowers. , clockwise from top left: Lampranthus (yellow), Lampranthus (pink), Argyranthemum, Oleander, Miscanthus, Tulbaghlia, Santolina (cotton lavender), Aloe


Other flowers I noticed were red-flowered Hibiscus, and lots and lots of Bougainvillea, whilst non-flowering plants included the Norfolk Island Pine (Araucaria heteriphylla), Palms, Agave and hedges comprised of the surprisingly robust Duranta erecta. There were also two plants, shown below, which she was unsure of. The plant on the left appears to be a form of Oxalis, whilst the one on the right looks rather like a Sorbus but I was very surprised to see it at such a windy, coastal site! Please let us know if you can identify either of them.

Essaouira flowers - unidentified

Plant life in Essaouira 2017-11-01T13:30:24+00:00

Shakespeare 400 – A Busy Year for REEP!

2016 is of course the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death and there are lots of interesting events taking place here in Great Britain and around the world in celebration of the great man. As Shakespeare is a crucial element to many ongoing REEP projects 2016 will be a busy year for the REEP team as we attend many of these events and launch some new initiatives of our own. Next month we will be presenting a paper at ‘Shakespeare: Critical Perspectives Past and Present’, an international conference in Beni Mellal, Morocco, while in the summer we have plans to launch the first round of a new horticultural scholarship that will focus on historic gardens in the time of Shakespeare. Watch this space!

Shakespeare 400 – A Busy Year for REEP! 2017-11-01T13:24:09+00:00

January has spring in its step

Well it may be winter back home in Great Britain but it’s been an uncharacteristically mild one so far. When Diana and Rhiannon left England on Tuesday there were even daffodils coming into flower in their gardens! It will be interesting to see how the flowering season plays out and whether further plants will come into season significantly earlier than usual or whether all things floral will be curtailed by the dreaded late winter frosts! Watch this space for more news on this and please let us know of any unusually early flowers in your own back gardens.

The photo shows the daffodil Narcissus pseudonarcissus ‘February Gold’ in Rhiannon’s garden in Norfolk. Although named ‘February Gold’ this patch of daffodils doesn’t usually come into flower until early March, or very late February if we’re really lucky, so it looks to be a full 2 months ahead of schedule!

January has spring in its step 2017-11-01T13:06:21+00:00