By Trey Pitsenberger,
co-owner Golden Gecko
of the most popular styles of gardening in California
today is the Mediterranean style. The reason for the
interest is two-fold. One, it is an attractive look for
a garden. Two, it is appropriate for our area as we have
a Mediterranean climate anyway.
The Mediterranean climate only exists in two percent
of the world. The key to this climate is a dry summer,
with little or no rain, and mild, wet winters. The name
Mediterranean came from those countries that border the
Mediterranean Sea. Spain, France, Greece, Italy, Morocco
and Turkey are some of the countries that border the
Mediterranean. There are a few other locations that have
the climate, but not the Mediterranean Sea. Central Chile,
Southwestern Australia, the Cape of South Africa, and
California all have the climate. You can see it’s
a very small, and special climate, that we are blessed
Plants that grow well with little or now summer water
and lots of summer heat are valued for this style. It’s
no surprise that the native plants from each of the regions
are incorporated in this style. Our foothill native plants,
like oak, manzanita, toyon, and ceanothus can all be
used in the Mediterranean style. Along with foothill
native plants there are many other plants, from the other
regions that can work well. Lavender, rosemary, sage,
and olive, are from the countries surrounding the Mediterranean
area. Grevellia is from Australia, while Red-Hot Poker
plant from South Africa.
As a general rule use hot vivid colors for flowers and
apposed to the pastels. Use lots of fragrant plants like
thyme and sage, as the Mediterranean gardens are noted
for their aromatic appeal. Paving stones planted with
fragrant thyme in the spaces between will release the
fragrance when stepped on.
Water features can be a big part of the garden. Olive
jars with bubbling water, or spilling from one jar to
the other is effective. The motion and sound of water
will cool the garden and enliven the scene.
Mediterranean gardens tend to utilize lots of hardscape.
Patio’s, paths and other paved surfaces tend to
be used more then lawns. Since the Mediterranean landscape
is to be enjoyed, and used, the larger the patio, or
the more pathways allow people to access and enjoy outdoor
living, which is possible during our long dry summers.
Dining and entertaining go hand in hand with the Mediterranean
landscape. A table, chairs, umbrella, and a running water
feature will create a fun place to entertain.
Use lots of containers planted with herbs, succulents,
crepe myrtle, or flowers that dress up the paved patio
areas. Dwarf Citrus in a container is perfect for the
Mediterranean theme. Yucca, Ornamental Grasses and Palms
are great in containers too.
Garden art should be used as you see fit. Rusted Metal
figures, stone benches, wind chimes, sundials, etc. add
to the enchantment. A ceramic sun plaque on the wall,
or a moving wind sculpture might be just what the garden
Mediterranean gardening is a celebration of a climate
we are fortunate to live in. It doesn’t require
excess water or labor to maintain and provides year round
interest, for our year round lifestyle.