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Recreate your holidays in the sun

Plants, along with food, are the two things that jog my memory when I’m recalling places that I’ve visited and these have a massive influence on what I grow.

Unfortunately, North East England doesn’t have the climate of the Mediterranean or other major holiday destinations – but here are the tender perennials I grow, overwintering them under glass in winter.

We all need some escapism in this day and age…


Geraniums: I’ve been very influenced by balconies full of ivy-leaved Pelargoniums in the French Alps and terracotta pots of intense colour all over the Med, so these are the ultimate holiday plant – so much so I have more than 100.

Echiums: These Canary island natives are gobsmacking – a flower spike up to 12ft high on a huge rosette of leaves. However, they’re tougher than they look – most survive outside in my gritty soil (they’ll take up to -5ºC) but I do take some under glass, just to be on the safe side. See E. pininana growing wild on Mt. Teide, Tenerife.

Aeoniums: Another Canary Island native, they look like a child has made them out of Plasticine, which attracts me to them instantly.


Exotic climbers: These will overwinter but it’s just as easy to grow them as annuals – they’ll cover 10ft in a season. My favourite has to be Morning Glory Grandpa Otts.

Cacti and succulents: I’ve looked after cacti and succulents since I was a young child (no health and safety with the spines in our house) and still love their weird shapes and forgiveness if you don’t pay them attention. Ahh, that priceless moment when my mother picked up a prickly pear fruit in Spain…

Cannas and bananas: I love both primarily for their foliage, although you can’t knock the flowers on a Canna! Fond memories of the exotic garden in Tunisia.