Creating a Mediterranean Garden
By Jerome Allen
One of the great joys of living in Ibiza with our wonderful climate is having a garden that gives you a place to relax and enjoy being in nature. When properly planned and cared for your garden becomes an outdoor living space that adds beauty and grace to your home. The classic Mediterranean garden blends stylish design with rustic informality to create an ambiance that feels comfortable and natural. Ideally it should include some spots to relax along with a table and chairs for morning coffee, an alfresco lunch or a lazy summer supper. Of course the choice of plants and flowers is an essential element in creating the feeling that you want in your garden.
Whether you are creating a completely new garden, or just renovating and re-planting an existing one, it’s a good idea to seek the advice of a garden planner or your local garden centre. They can help you with all elements of the design, and in choosing which plants will thrive in your space.
Using terra cotta pots in a variety of sizes and shapes gives you the opportunity to include many types of plants in your Mediterranean garden. Beautiful flowers that bloom at different times of the year can be mixed with fragrant herbs like lavender, rosemary, mint and thyme. Terra cotta is porous which helps to keep plants cool in the heat of summer. In the ground you can plant colourful bougainvilleas, hibiscus and morning glories. Finishing off your plantings with a layer of mulch can add to the natural look. If you have a large garden area then olive and citrus trees provide a true Mediterranean touch. For further ambiance you can grow climbing plants like grapes or fragrant flowering vines on rustic-looking vertical trellises. This helps you to make the most of your available space, especially in smaller gardens.
“Create your garden to feel comfortable and natural”Your garden’s character will be determined by your personal taste, but keep in mind that traditional Mediterranean gardens generally feel comfortable, broken-in and established, rather than looking crisp and brand new.
You can create that relaxed feeling with the design, furnishings and finishing touches that you choose. Mosaic tiles are commonly used to decorate walls, tables and pots. Weathered wood benches, trellises and perhaps a rustic door will all contribute to your garden’s ambiance. A source of gently splashing water can also enhance the sensory experience that you seek. A fountain set against a wall made of rough plaster or natural stone is a classic look, but a freestanding fountain or bubbling water feature will also do the trick. Speaking of water, that is a scarce commodity here on Ibiza, so creating your garden to use it efficiently is both ecologically and economically beneficial.
Your choice of plantings plays a big role in water conservation, so it is again helpful to ask the experts as to which plants need less water. For example, cacti and succulents would be a good option. You might also consider using gravel or paving stone in place of a water-thirsty lawn. Perhaps the most efficient way to water most gardens is by installing a drip irrigation system. This is basically a network of tubes and emitters that allow water to drip directly into the roots of the plants. Among its many advantages are saving water, minimizing evaporation and lessening the growth of weeds. The system can be set on a timer to work automatically which makes it very dependable and convenient.
The eating area can be one of the great pleasures of your garden. In a typical Mediterranean garden the dining table is set under a pergola which supports fragrant climbing foliage such as roses, grapes or jasmine.
This gives you some shelter from the hot midday sun, whilst also creating a space that is both intimate and aromatic. It is wise to keep fragrance in mind, not only as you choose plants for a pergola, but also for the other plantings. Your garden is meant to engage all of the senses, so fragrance is almost as important as colour. At the end of the day, the plan for your garden is less a checklist of specific items, and more a reflection of your taste and lifestyle. Getting professional advice will help you to create a very personal space that feels right for you.