In a dry climate, mulching round plants to retain moisture is very effective and a real must. But what materials to use for this crucial mulch? Gravel, chipped bark, grass clippings and even shredded newspapers are often recommended. But I often try to use low growing pants to do more or less the same job. I have been a bit bashful about admitting this and tried not to draw attention to the thick mats of stachys, winter savory, convolvulus sabaticus and vinca major in my garden. But following a visit with the Med Garden Soc to the Taverna family garden at La Landriana (south of Rome) I feel able to 'come out' on ground cover planting. Their rose beds and the famous grey garden were planted thickly, with no room for weeds and no boring bare soil to be seen anywhere. How do they feed the roses? Their answer was foliar feed. So much for mulch.