Nature

September Flower of the Month:  Ground Thistle  (MT: Xewk tal-Mixta) Atractylis gummifera

September Flower of the Month: Ground Thistle (MT: Xewk tal-Mixta) Atractylis gummifera

Alongside the Sea Squill (featured in August) the Ground Thistle is one of the only species to flower boldly at this time of year. Its first signs of life come as quite a surprise in the form of a bright pink flower emerging from the drab landscape and dried up foliage from the preceding season. The thorny leaves will start appearing in winter after it seeds. This hardy perennial plant needs very little to grow and it remains alive thanks to its underground rhizome. Although the plant is small and stemless it is rendered conspicuous by being the only touch...

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August Flower of the Month:  Sea Squill (MT: Basal tal-Għansar) Drimia maritima

August Flower of the Month: Sea Squill (MT: Basal tal-Għansar) Drimia maritima

August is one of the toughest months for all wildlife and few plants have the resilience to survive the scorching heat and drought of the Maltese dry season. Annual species usually complete their life cycle before the heat while perennials adopt extreme strategies such as by having tiny but tough leaves, by going dormant in summer or by drastically reducing their greenery. The Sea Squill uses an avoidance technique combined with a clever storage of nutrients and water encased in an extremely tough (and toxic) bulb. Such geophytes use the wet season to grow their foliage to collect and store...

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Save the Bees and Win a Bee Hotel

Save the Bees and Win a Bee Hotel

Win a bee hotel or get a free tote bag! Would you like to help us save bees and ecosystems while having the chance of winning a bee hotel for your own home or office?Over the past months Friends of the Earth Malta has been circulating the petition (read more here) as part of a European Citizen Initiative which calls on the European Commission to phase out synthetic pesticides by 2035, restore biodiversity and support farmers in the transition. We are aiming to reach the 4500 thresholds by this September to add our share to several countries that are attempting...

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July Flower of the Month: The Chaste Tree (MT: Siġra tal-Virgi)

July Flower of the Month: The Chaste Tree (MT: Siġra tal-Virgi)

Purple and lilac are once again the colours of this month’s featured flower thanks to the spectacular blooming of the Chaste Tree (Vitex agnus-castus)  which occasionally has pinkish lighter flowers.  Known with various names in both Maltese (Għadiba, Bżar tal-Patrijiet) and English (Chasteberry, Monk’s Peppers) this deciduous Mediterranean species is one of the only indigenous shrubs to bloom against all odds in the hottest, driest months providing a blessing to many insects at a time when hardly anything else flowers in the countryside. The fragrant leaves start falling in autumn when its fruits become more prominent in the form of...

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June Flower of the Month: Mediterranean Thyme

June Flower of the Month: Mediterranean Thyme

The purple reign is here – as the saying goes … it’s time for thyme! The Mediterranean Thyme (MT: Sagħtar) Thymbra capitata is a hardy low growing and aromatic shrub protected by law but not from the relentless winds and long droughts which dominate its preferred habitat. The expanses of garigue have by now dried up and most plants have withered, shed their leaves for summer or commenced their dormant period but the habitat still presents us with a marvellous start of summer spectacle of flowering mats ranging in hues of purple, lilac, pink and the occasional pale/whitish varieties and with...

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Urban permaculture and mental health during and after the pandemic

Urban permaculture and mental health during and after the pandemic

One can feel that Heaven is here on Earth, especially when we look at and consciously connect with Nature and its immense complexity and intelligence. Many of us who practise permaculture or organic gardening have known for a long time that being in Nature is healing and lifting the Spirit. Just this last year researchers from Princeton found scientific evidence for these powers as well. In their paper, they argue that household gardening supports high emotional well-being, especially elevating the emotional well-being of those who have to face many difficulties in life (eg. women, low-income people) and it does not matter...

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Flower of the month – May – Yellow flowers

Flower of the month – May – Yellow flowers

May: Yellow flowers of the month As if to remind us of the upcoming sunny days the month of May sees several shrubs dress up in bright yellow – the colour of warmth and joy and also a great favourite amongst pollinators. These small shrubs are typical of garigue areas and some go as far as living on the edge of cliffs. All the species mentioned here are indigenous whilst two of them are endemic (found only in the Maltese Islands). Consult our online library catalogue for more information about plants and visit the beautifully detailed local website http://www.maltawildplants.com/maltawildplants.html Wall...

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