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By Trey Pitsenberger, co-owner Golden Gecko

One 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 with.

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 ordered.

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.



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