As summer approaches, you might be feeling like a Mediterranean holiday. But even if you can’t jet off to sunnier, warmer climes, you can still bring a little of the Mediterranean to your own UK garden. Mediterranean gardens are sunny, warm and beautiful. And though our own climate might not be quite as warm and sunny, we can still get a Mediterranean feel. Here are some tips to help you create that feel in your UK garden.
Mediterranean Plant Choices
Choosing the right plants is, of course, key to creating a Mediterranean garden where you live. Most plants from this region require plenty of sunshine, good drainage, and a sheltered, warm location. When choosing plants, it is of course important to consider the conditions where you live. Look at your soil, and sunlight and shade, to determine which Mediterranean plants you can grow and where best to place them within the space.
If you have a space in full sun with free-draining soil, some great plant choices include:
Mediterranean herbs like rosemary, thyme, oregano, lavender and sage.
Fruits and vegetables for a healthy, Mediterranean diet.
Olive trees, cypress, palms, or other trees.
Sun-loving flowering shrubs, perennial and annual flowers in a range of vibrant hues.
Beautiful, fragrant climbing plants like jasmine, or other climbers and vines – Ipomoea or grape vines, for example.
Terracotta Plant Pots
If you have a heavy clay soil or less suitable conditions where you live, growing Mediterranean plants in containers will often be the best choice. Even if you also have Mediterranean plants growing in beds or borders, placing terracotta containers around the space can help create the atmosphere you are going for. Warm terracotta tones will help bring a warmer feel to the space, creating the illusion of heat even in a colder climate zone.
Terracotta containers will also help you to make the most of the space, filling the garden with a lush abundance that will evoke the regions you are aiming to evoke.
Around the plants in beds and borders, gravel is common in Mediterranean gardens. Gravel mulches are a decorative feature which can help you create the feeling you are going for. But gravel will also have practical benefits. Gravel spread around Mediterranean herbs and other Mediterranean plants will improve drainage and protect plants from wet or waterlogged soil. Light coloured gravel will also reflect sunlight back up onto the plants.
Pathways in a Mediterranean garden are often key features. These too can and often do include gravel. They may also be made of stone stabs or tile paving, for example. Often, paving stabs are spaced out and the gaps between them are planted up with creeping thyme, or other drought tolerant ground cover plants. This is another feature which can help to add to the lush and abundant feel.
Lawns are not a common feature in Mediterranean gardens. They simply take to much water to maintain. Ditch the lawn and focus instead on creating lush planting schemes, with varied beds and borders, and a beautiful paved patio area. A patio encircled with beautiful Mediterranean planting, with terracotta pots and planters placed upon it, is often a wonderful focal point for a garden of this type.
In terms of the material for a Mediterranean patio, a rich, warm-toned stone can be ideal. You might also take a leaf from Moorish design and create a tiled or mosaic style patio. Colourful tiles or mosaics can bring warm splashes of colour to the space, bringing the illusion of warmth and sunshine even when the weather is grey.
Pergolas or Arbours With Climbing Plants
In the Med, hot sun means shade is essential. To bring the Med to your own garden, it is a good idea to create leafy and shaded places to sit around the space. Pergolas or arbour structures planted up with climbers or vines can be perfect features to include to get the right look and feel for your space.
When choosing the perfect spot for your arbour or pergola, do make sure that you think carefully about sunlight and shade in your particular garden. And remember that there are plenty of climbing plants suitable both for sunny and shaded sides of any structure you create.
Mediterranean Water Features
Adding water features such as ponds, fountains and burbling water spouts can all also help to evoke a Mediterranean feel in your garden. Water features are wonderful for adding a calming sense of peace and tranquillity to the space. And they can also help to attract plenty of wildlife to help you keep your plants, and the garden ecosystem as a whole, in tip top health.
The sound of flowing water in particular can help you create that holiday feel in your garden. It will become part of the garden soundscape and help you feel relaxed and unstressed.
Al fresco Mediterranean Dining
Food is a very important part of all our lives. And the intrinsic value of food and our relationship to it is something that is healthy and strong in many areas around the Mediterranean. As well as growing at least some food in your garden, you should also focus on creating a wonderful place to eat some of that food outdoors. A space for al fresco dining is a key component in many Mediterranean gardens. Creating the perfect dining space will help you achieve the right look and feel for the space.
An Outdoors Kitchen Area
As well as including somewhere to grow food and somewhere to eat it in your Mediterranean garden, you should also consider including somewhere to cook. An outdoors kitchen area adjacent to your outdoors dining area could be the perfect finishing touch.
For that Mediterranean feel, you might include, for example, an outdoors pizza oven. Then you and friends and family can enjoy your very own home-cooked pizza as you enjoy your garden.
Colourful Mediterranean Touches
Most of the vibrant colour in your Mediterranean garden will come from the plants themselves. But there are also other ways to add colour to your space. Adding warm rich reds, oranges and yellows can help the space feel warmer, and banish those grey skies for good. We’ve already spoken about terracotta pots, and warm toned pavers or tiles. These colours might also come in through mosaic designs you create. Some final colourful touches might include some eco-friendly paint on bed edging or a wall of fence. This can set off the planting to best advantage and completely change the atmosphere of a space.
These are just a few tips to help you achieve a Mediterranean feel in a UK garden. If you have more tips, suggestions or comments, please feel free to share these with other readers below.
Elizabeth Waddington is a writer and green living consultant living in Scotland. Permaculture and sustainability are at the heart of everything she does, from designing gardens and farms around the world, to inspiring and facilitating positive change for small companies and individuals.
She also works on her own property, where she grows fruit and vegetables, keeps chickens and is working on the eco-renovation of an old stone barn.
To get in touch, visit https://ewspconsultancy.com.