Mediterranean gardens evoke languid afternoons in the shade, the scent of lavender in the breeze and the buzz of bees dropping from the flowers. Popularized by historic gardens in Italy, Spain, Greece and southern France, the style of Mediterranean gardens presents a sublime, dreamlike impression where visitors want to linger.
“The appeal of the Mediterranean garden is its romanticism. It reminds us of sunny journeys and faraway places,” says Katie Tamony, Director of Marketing at monrovia. “It’s a unique style that evolved from this region, shaped by the hot, dry climate, rainy winters and the diversity of their history and cultures. Many features of a Mediterranean garden also work in a modern landscape.
How to design a Mediterranean garden
Here’s how to incorporate the elements of a Mediterranean garden into your own space.
Include water elements.
The sight and sound of a gurgling fountain on a summer day has both a calming and cooling effect due to the heat, says Tamony. A simple stone birdbath, if space is limited, can provide a similar feel.
Create shaded walkways and seating areas.
Design paths and rest areas using gravel and light-colored tiles in sun-washed tones like terracotta. These types of materials provide functionality, as well as a neutral palette that complements the colors of many Mediterranean plants.
Design a sense of enclosure.
Walled gardens and courtyards make Mediterranean gardens particularly attractive for privacy, privacy and protection from the elements such as the sun or wind. The space does not need to be completely enclosed. Privacy can be created with hedges, a trellis, an arbor or pergola, or even a row of large pots or stone or terracotta containers, says Tamony.
Grow many kinds of herbs.
Historically, Mediterranean gardens are also productive spaces where edible products such as herbs and fruit trees for family use are grown. Herbs are particularly easy to grow, and many heat-tolerant perennial herbs, such as thyme, sage, oregano and rosemary, will come back year after year.
Incorporate fruit trees.
Fig trees, olive trees, pomegranates and citrus trees are particularly charming and give a Mediterranean flavor to the garden. If you don’t live in a warm climate, many varieties of these trees can be grown in patio pots and then overwintered indoors as houseplants.
Plant drought-tolerant ornamentals.
“Because water is precious in much of the Mediterranean, many drought-tolerant plants fall into this style,” says Tamony. Choose low-maintenance plants such as salvia, agastache, succulents, and agave, which can make a striking, sculptural statement in oversized pots or landscaped beds. Many Mediterranean plants, like lavender, also have a silvery gray-green sheen to their foliage, which reflects heat and makes the landscape sparkle at midday. White roses are also surprisingly resilient once established, and their color provides a refreshing effect.
Enhance the space with your own personality.
Gardens are always a reflection of your personal style and taste, but anything that evokes a sense of history and timelessness is at home in a Mediterranean garden. Think weathered benches and statues, colorful tiles, and rustic furnishings that allow you to enjoy afternoon cocktails or alfresco dining.