Conrad Batton is a Devon-based landscape and garden
designer and has created a Mediterranean-style space in south Devon
which takes advantage of the particular microclimate at Worden House. As a former pupil of the renowned forest gardener, Martin Crawford
, Conrad thought it would be wonderful to create a productive Mediterranean forest garden and made the decision to use olives. Conrad has also planted the garden to be ready for climate change
. “Martin Crawford suggested ten years ago that in 30 years’ time, we are likely to have a climate similar to Bordeaux,” says Conrad.
While studying with Martin, Conrad met Mark Diacono from the popular Otter Farm
who had set up an experimental climate-change garden using olives, peaches, apricots and almonds. After observing the plants
doing very well there, Conrad decided to take a similar approach in the garden at Worden. Here are nine key plants which thrive.
© Jason Ingram
One of the nicest of all umbels and loved by insects. Produces dense umbels on thin stems. 1.5m. RHS H7, USDA 2a- 11b.
Mespilus germanica ‘Westerveld’
A old Dutch medlar that produces masses of plump fruits with a good flavour. Large, rose-like flowers in late spring. Self-fertile. 3.5m. RHS H5. © Jason Ingram
A tough, drought-tolerant, evergreen shrub with glossy aromatic foliage and scented, white flowers. Old plants can be rejuvenated when cut back hard in the spring. 2m. AGM. RHS H4, USDA 7a-10b. © Jason Ingram
A perennial that will flower from seed in its first year. It will spread in free-draining soils and make wands of grey-green foliage topped with spikes of mauve flowers. 60cm. RHS H6, USDA 5a-9b. © Jason Ingram
Olea europaea ‘Frantoio’
One of the hardiest of the Tuscan olives. It is best grown in a sheltered site, but can tolerate quite cold winters without protection. Needs sun and a free-draining soil. Self-fertile. RHS H4, USDA 8a-10b. © Jason Ingram
Ficus carica ‘Brown Turkey’
Probably the most commonly grown fig in the UK. It makes a large, sprawling shrub with fat twigs and large palmate leaves. It is often trained against a wall. Its sap and foliage can cause skin irritation. 5m. RHS H4, USDA 6a-9b. © Jason Ingram
A particularly hardy South African aloe that makes whorls of thin, succulent foliage from which bright-yellow flower spikes are produced. Likes a sunny spot with a free-draining soil. 2m. RHS H3. © Jason Ingram
Solanum laxum ‘Album’
© Jason Ingram
This is a vigorous climbing member of the nightshade family. Sprays of white flowers are produced on the new growth through the summer and into the autumn. Prune hard in the spring. 6m. AGM. RHS H4.
Origanum laevigatum ‘Herrenhausen’
© Jason Ingram
A long-flowering oregano that produces wiry stems covered in masses of small, purple flowers. 50cm. AGM. RHS H6, USDA 5a-9b.
Read more about Conrad Batten’s garden at Worden House here