One of the richest sources of garden design has been the Mediterranean garden and is an easy style to develop whatever the size of your garden. There is a large collection of plant species well suited to the climate which is typically cool and wet in the winter, and hot and dry in the summer.
The term sclerophyllous comes from the Greek word sclera (hard) and phyllon (leaf) with the foliage often evergreen, compact in leaf size and which is green in colour. The plants a typically drought resistant but photosynthesize throughout the year.
There are certain elements which constitute a Mediterranean Garden:
Protection: High walled gardens offer protection and relief from drying winds and the elements. They also provide a sanctuary and framework to a garden.
Shelter: Shade and shelter from the intense heat is central to Mediterranean gardens with structures such as pergolas, arbours and arcades. Pergolas should be in keeping with the mood and style of the buildings around it. Timber is the most common material but will require annual treatment with a wood preservative.
Water: This is an element which offers an immediate feeling of relief from the heat. It does not have to be a big feature which will have excessive loss of evaporation – a dribbling fountain offering a trickle of water is sufficient to achieve the feeling.
Outdoor Rooms: The modern concept of outdoor rooms evolved from Mediterranean gardens. A well-planned garden with mature trees and other forms of shade can be an energy-saving alternative to the air-conditioned indoors.
Think Local: In Italy and Spain, many Mediterranean gardens scramble up hillsides or are carved into rocky cliffs and feature walls and other features made from local stone. Always try to reduce your carbon footprint by sourcing materials locally.
Planting: If you plant carefully, you can enjoy the fruits of your labours by planting herbs, citrus trees, olives, vines (which will also provide shade) and figs. Planting edibles close to the living areas where they can be smelled and tasted, adds to the allure of the garden. Lavender is easy to grow and can even be pruned to form a hedge. Pots of bamboo make excellent additions too.