On this small area, we've astroturf laid down on top of the concrete and this is where we've placed our palm trees and other hardy 'exotics'.
To add to the Mediterranean flavour, we've decided to grow a fig tree and so I set about making a planter with an integral trellis.
After playing around with several designs, we decided which one we wanted to go with and then out came the cut-off saw and a batch of our hardwood slats.
Construction was quite straightforward. We made the trellis fan first, the lower part of which also ties into the back wall of the planter.
|forming the fan ...|
The planter box measures around 800 x 425 x 340 mm, so it's quite substantial and over 100 litres in volume. The box needs to be quite wide for stability. The trellis framework is 1,600 mm high and 1,800 mm wide across the top corners.
|finished planter, from the front ....|
|and from the rear ...|
With the assembly works finished, I painted the insides and the bottom of the planter with a few coats of bitumen paint for protection against rot, and then oiled the rest of the structure using teak oil.
|the underside after painting with bitumen ...|
We filled the planter using a layer of bricks in the bottom and around the inside for extra stability, and also to constrain the fig tree roots which apparently makes them fruit better. Then we laid small stones for drainage before adding a mixture of topsoil, multipurpose compost and sharp sand.
|in position and filled ready for planting ...|
When the young fig tree arrived, we put it in the centre of the planter but angled it slightly backwards before using short canes to initially train the two outer stems towards the edges of the trellis, with the other long stem to the left of centre.
|initial fan training ...|
There's also a fourth, shorter, stem in the middle which will be trained to the right of centre when it's a little bigger.
Let's just hope we can get enough warmth and sunshine here for the fig tree to flourish. The young plant was supplied from Northern Ireland, grown outside in a nursery which is located at around the same latitude as ourselves, so we're hopeful it can also do well in our garden.
It might be a few years before any fruit buds appear, but this year we'll just see how well it's managed to get established by the end of the autumn.
We also intend to add some of our Aubrieta plants around the edges of the planter, to cascade down over the sides, but they first need to grow on a bit more in the greenhouse.