Mediterranean Vista

Mediterranean Vista

CREATE YOUR OWN MEDITERRANEAN VISTA

Whilst not everyone has the opportunity to enjoy the seductive scenery and atmosphere of Tuscany, Provence and Granada to name a few samples of Mediterranean heaven, we are probably all familiar with the signature elements of the landscapes, villages and gardens that so appeal to us – sunny skies, lavender and bougainvillea, stone and terracotta, olive trees and fountains…the list goes on.  Well – if you happen to live in a moderate to hot climate and have the space and imagination, you can enjoy your very own Mediterranean haven without leaving home!

You need not uproot your existing garden to achieve this – think of the project as introducing and overlaying new elements – indeed, a lot of your well established shrubs and trees may prove invaluable structurally.

RECOMMENDED  PLANTS (by common names)

Agave plantArchitectural Plants

Agave

Dracaena

Phormium

Yucca

.

Flowers and Shrubs

Daisies

Geraniums

Lantana

Roses

Lavender – French and Italian

Rosemary

Oleander (medium to large shrub available also in dwarf forms – ideal for pots)

Pelargoniums

 

Succulents (not necessarily cacti and mix the species – aim for variety in colour and shape – the range is endless and they look really interesting grouped).

Trees

AlmondVilla patio garden

Bay

Citrus – Lemon, Orange, Cumquat

Olive

Palms (select species)

All of these can be grown in large pots

Hedges

Olive – medium to tall hedge

Myrsine

Syzygium

The latter two make good dense low hedges (keep clipped for maximum effect) and potted specimens (excellent for topiary).

ClimbersBougainvillea

Bougainvillea – a must-have (also available in dwarf forms).

Climbing Geranium

Grape

Jasmine – how can you not love Jasmine – particularly the perfumed varieties!

Wisteria

Note: Don’t be daunted by the list – it is only a guide and just a few of these in combination can achieve the desired effect.  The plants listed will also live quite happily in pots.

Structural Elements and Furniture

Stone walls and steps are a common feature of true Mediterranean gardens, particularly around the older villas, but if you are not fortunate enough to already have such desirable elements in your space, don’t despair – you can incorporate stone in other ways – as paving, edging, or as I often do – use a nicely cut block of limestone as a pedestal for a romantic old pot or urn. These blocks also make a handsome and stable base for large shallow bowl which can become a static water feature (or alternatively planted with succulents or bright flowering annuals).

A rustic table under a vine-laden pergola or veranda is the perfect setting for dining alfresco, but in the absence of such shelter a big market umbrella or shady tree will suffice. Eating in the garden is very much part of the experience – convivial and good for the soul!  Furniture is very important in the Mediterranean garden (or any other!) – a well placed bench or two can create alluring spaces that suggest separate rooms or zones – this creates interest and the illusion of greater area in the garden. Seating importantly also offers different perspectives of the garden as well as a place for quiet contemplation.

Statuary and other ornaments can be appealing if well-chosen (nothing quaint or twee) and used sparingly.  They should be placed carefully – either as focal points or as happy surprises in leafy nooks – just ensure they don’t clash with the theme or compete with other highlights. You may need to move them around to establish where they really seem “at home”. That’s part of the adventure of gardening – experimentation!

Colour

Think vibrant!  Whilst the plants I suggest offer a spectrum of bright colours you should also consider a key feature colour to pull the whole garden together.  In this case I would recommend using that gorgeous summery light blue (or the muted French mid-green) that we see throughout the Mediterranean region. It contrasts so well with the warm colours of the flowering garden itself. You can apply this one colour to whatever you wish to highlight – wooden furniture, shutters, pergolas, fences, gates, garden arches and frames – of course don’t get too carried away, we don’t want to overwhelm!

 

Planting

Ideally you plan a combination of potted and in-ground plantings.  Virtually all the plants listed can be used in either situation – if you are renting you may prefer to have a potted garden.  The beauty of container gardens is that plants can be moved around seasonally or re-grouped just for a change (and also, they come with you, should you move house!). Large potted specimens can make quite a statement – a matched pair at an entrance or marking a set of steps, whilst a row of potted topiaries edging a pool or pathway lends a disciplined formality.

If you plan to “clump” your pots in complimentary groups, select related shapes and generally don’t mix terracotta with the glazed varieties.  Also, remember that odd numbers look less contrived than even – so go for three or five (maximum) together (something about how things group in nature!!)  Potted plants, particularly in terracotta, can dry out easily if conditions are hot and windy, so do monitor moisture levels. Glazed pots hold water longer but, to my mind, don’t seem quite so Mediterranean.

Don’t despair if you only have a balcony to work with – provided it is sturdy and receives enough sun you can create this same potted Mediterranean garden on a small scale and with the addition of a piece or two of that blue furniture – voila!

If you are introducing your new plants to an established garden bed, place them thoughtfully – multiple groupings of the new will look more natural than random singular placements. Ensure they receive enough sun and look comfortable alongside the older plants.  This is an opportunity to cull tired and unattractive established specimens if things are looking crowded.  Be prepared to mix and match (before planting) until you achieve a pleasing effect.

Water Element

Water Lily Brilliant pink water lilies in water gardenIn a traditional formal Mediterranean garden water featured prominently in the form of fountains and ornamental pools.  This may not be practical in every situation and a modest substitute is the oversized water bowl – stone, bronze or cement, placed strategically on a stone plinth or at ground level.  You may wish to plant it with water lillies for extra impact.

I hope this information helps and inspires you to create a lovely new environment for all to enjoy.

Happy Gardening!

Lovely Lifestyles 2016