Mediterranean Gardens - a guide to creating a Mediterranean garden

Photo of Mediterranean Garden Design

Mediterranean gardening and garden design is ideal for gardens anywhere in the world which have a Mediterranean style climate  of hot, dry summers and fairly frost-free winters. However with careful selection of plants or careful attention to drainage it  is possible to have a Mediterranean garden almost anywhere.

The Mediterranean garden evokes the Mediterranean lifestyle and this means lots of outdoor living. It is important therefore to incorporate places for eating and sitting outside. Vine covered pergolas with garden furniture or benches in shady spots preferably with a few cushions to throw on top to add colour and make seating areas more attractive. Think about planting some scented plants in this area to add to the pleasure of outdoor living.

Creating a Mediterranean Garden

This is not a modern style and so for hard landscaping it is important to use wood, stone and terracotta with perhaps the use of ceramic tiles to add colour and maybe a moorish influence.

Soft furnishings such as cushions on benches, tablecloths on tables when laid for eating and even curtains hanging from pergolas add to the effect.

Shade is very important. Pergolas can be elaborate bought structures or can simply be rough wooden structures. Vines, ornamental vines, roses and wisteria are common choices for plants to climb over the pergola to provide shade.

Garden ornaments will tend to be in terracotta - large terracotta pots and jars are ideal. These often need to be protected over winter.

Clipped topiary is common in Mediterranean gardens, box, santolina, rosemary and bay are all ideal plants for topiary.

Garden plants for a Mediterranean Garden

Lavender - this has got to be an essential plant for a Mediterranean garden. For its silver leaves, its scented flowers and the fact that you can keep it cut back into tight round balls possibly interspersed with santolinas cut back in the same fashion.

La Louve, Mediterranean garden

Santolina - small grey leaves, small yellow flowers. The plant can be cut back into round balls or low hedges.

Rosemary - deep green foliage with characteristic smell. Suitable for small topiaries. Very useful herb in Mediterranean cookery.

Bay tree - lovely glossy green leaves great for use in cooking. Versatile plant for topiaries.

Italian cypress - these trees are a must to give height and drama to a Mediterranean garden.

Geraniums - especially worth having lots in terracotta pots.

Olive trees are perfect but will need overwintering in a sheltered area or protecting with fleece.

Cistus - with its silver green leaves, wild-rose like flowers and drought tolerance these are perfect.

Scent is vital. Orange and lemon trees and Jasmine are perfect for these gardens but will need to be planted in pots and sheltered overwinter unless you live in a Mediterranean climate. Roses and other scented flowers can also be used.

If you do not live in a Mediterranean type climate many of these plants will survive so long as you plant them in well-drained soil or plant them in a raised bed with lots of drainage added.

Climbing plants such as bougainvillea, campsis and wisteria are also common in Mediterranean style gardens.

Examples of Mediterranean Gardens

The Gardens of the Villa Ephrussi - many different styles of garden are offered here including a Provencal garden. The gardens of Marqueyssac put a modern twist on Mediterranean gardening.

Domaine du Rayol - has plants which originate from Mediterranean climates throughout the world.

La Louve uses clipped box and thin cyprus trees to wonderful affect.