I’m sitting in my office contemplating how many layers to put on before going out to brave this crisp April morning. It is hard to imagine that before we know it Summer will be upon us and we will all be wishing we’d put a little bit more effort into our gardens in Spring. With summers seemingly getting hotter and for longer it is only natural that British gardens begin to adapt to the Mediterranean approach.
Mediterranean gardens work on so many levels as they address the senses so well, crisp colours, aromatic plants, shaded seating areas and a more laid back approach to gardening. Of course you need to remember that most of us are on holiday if we are enjoying these delights but how can we bring a little of the Mediterranean to our own back gardens? Colour is incredibly important and we are lucky that due to the size of our gardens most of us have a wall or fence we can paint a vibrant hue. As our light is slightly cooler than that in the Mediterranean I always make sure I use a slightly richer colour, pastels tend to get washed away by our grey skies so be bold and use a deep blue or rich red my own preference is for an abounding egg yoke yellow. Don’t forget that if you don’t have a wall or fence try painting an old garden bench or even the shed.
There is more to the planting than purely scent, it is also the textures. Remember we are not trying to create a pastiche we are making our own interpretation and one, which works, for our country. Some of the plants we know and love are perfect, we all know rosemary and lavender, all native plants to the Mediterranean, but have you thought about trying to use British natives to create a similar effect? Native plants have adapted over time to our climate and therefore require less maintenance. Try using hazel, Corylus avellana, and pick the nuts straight from the tree or even the strawberry tree, Arbutus unedo, with its exotic looking strawberry like fruits.
Part of the allure of the Mediterranean garden is that it isn’t perfect, try and allow your plants to spill over the edge of the terrace and plant large out of scale terracotta pots with highly scented annuals. Distressed furniture adds to the look, I like to use simple bistro style tables and chairs painted and then allow the paint to peal off – a winter outside should do the trick. A large painted kitchen table bleached by the sun and surrounded with miss matching chairs is perfect. Don’t forget to complete the look with numerous candles in the evening. Above all Mediterranean gardens are designed to relax in so be generous with the cushions and olives!