Selecting Mediterranean Landscaping Plants
A well designed Mediterranean landscape conjures up the warm romantic vistas of Rome, Tuscany, the Greek islands, or sunny Spain. A mix of formal and informal, there is an overlay of classical elegance that reflects the old charm of southern Europe. You can re-create this style in the garden by using certain Mediterranean landscaping plants that will give you the wanted effects.
The List of Mediterranean Landscaping Plants
What you should remember about Mediterranean landscaping plants is you should use brightly colored flowers that contrast with gray, blue or green foliage.
Rosemary – With a Latin name, Rosmarinus Officinalis, that means “dew of the sea,” rosemary’s native Mediterranean climate is clearly evident. It grows best in well-drained soil; if your soil is very clayey or heavy, use mulch to lighten its texture and encourage speedier drainage. Plant rosemary in the brightest part of your garden; it grows best with at least six or eight hours of sunshine per day. Propagate rosemary from cuttings; once you have a few mature plants, you can easily cultivate many more. If you live in a cold climate, plant the rosemary in clay pots and bring it indoors during the winter months. Just ensure that it’s on a sufficiently bright windowsill.
Lavender – The familiar aromatic flower, lavender, is native to Southern Europe and Mediterranean countries such as Spain and the south of France. It grows fairly tall, like an ornamental grass, reaching around 3 feet in height. The plant’s stalk is a soft gray color with delicate light purple flowers at the tips. Lavender can only endure temperatures down to around the mid-40s. It thrives in well-drained, calcareous soil with moderate acidity, and in full sun. If you begin robust lavender planting, it may continue to return each year for up to 30 years. The plants may attract bees. The fragile flowers have been used for centuries as perfumes and sachets, as well as for medicinal purposes as stimulants and diuretics.
Olive – A highly representative plant of the Mediterranean, the importance of the olive tree (Olea europea) can be seen in the fundamental position of olive oil to Mediterranean cooking. In Spain, olive seeds have been found that are over 8,000 years old. Elsewhere in the world, olives grow very well in California, Australia and South Africa. Their geographical spread is somewhat limited by the long, hot growing season that the olive fruit demands. A late frost will kill off the olive tree’s blossoms, ruining that year’s harvest. However, if you live in a warm enough climates, you might consider adding an olive tree to your Mediterranean garden. For best results, plant a young olive sapling in well-drained soil, from moderate acidity up to a pH of 8.5. The soil may be slightly saline. In dry locations, provide sufficient irrigation; monthly deep watering is often sufficient.
Besides all those plants above, you could also use trees, shrubs, perennials, herbs and grass-like plants for your Mediterranean landscaping plants. Choose plants that are xeric, which means they require little water once established.