There are two garden types associated with Mediterranean regions. They are formal and informal gardens.
Informal gardens utilize gravel and their planting is structured in structural masses and groups. Informal gardens get their inspiration from the arid regions of Spain and Southern Italy and the less arid South of France with its shrubby vegetation or maquis.
In these regions, rosemary, citrus fruits, lavender, olive, grasses, succulents and vines grow well. They have muted white colors and they incorporate purple-blues and soft sage-gray greens. Gravel is used to create pathways and it is also used between areas of planting. The gravel has drift of plants that appear intermittently with arrangements of boulders and rocks. A dry stream bed can be recreated with clusters of drought resistant, informally arranged plants.
For urban spaces, terra-cotta is used along with mosaic tiles or features to add splashes of color.
The walls of these gardens are usually white-washed with clear backdrops for shadows. Hues are usually bold where paint is used. Rustic containers bring in colorful paintings at key points and they can also be used as focal features. The rustic containers can also be arranged in informal groups containing various sizes.
The formal Mediterranean gardens feature stone and water along with specimen trees like tall, slender cypresses and clipped hedges. In some Mediterranean gardens found in Southern Italy and Spain, there is a visible Moorish influence that can be observed. The Moorish influence can be seen in the water features and the courtyards of the Alhambra and Spain’s Generalife. The formal Mediterranean garden design style usually features a decorative parterre planting. In the formal Mediterranean garden style, plants are majorly used because of their foliage rather than the color of their flowers. Cool shade is provided by planting dense trees like Quercus ilex (holm oak).
The Mediterranean Garden Design Style
Mediterranean gardens became popular as a result of the fact that tourists that vacationed in the Mediterranean region wanted a garden that reflected the style of the region. The region features warm, dry summers and mild winters that favor select groups of plants. These plants include succulents, vines, herbs, lavender and olive trees all combined in a unique style. The plants are usually low-growing and hardy. The plants are often natural looking with a background of textured surfaces like scree and gravel. The trees in the Mediterranean garden provide shade and water is barely utilized by landscape designers in this garden. The Mediterranean atmosphere can be recreated in any outdoor space. Roof terraces, decorative courtyards and big sheltered pots can be used.
DETAILED PROPERTIES OF THE MEDITERRANEAN GARDEN
Formal paving is not used to define pathways in Mediterranean gardens. Gravel is used across the entire space and it is used as mulch for planted areas and also as hard landscaping. The Mediterranean garden is unified this way. Plants can be grouped informally and smaller areas of paving can be left to provide stable seating surfaces. Arbors and pergolas are used for shades and they can be matched with vines and other climbers to further boost the appeal of the Mediterranean look in the garden. This also creates a nice seating arena where meals can be shared. Trees can also be planted individually in major locations or in groves for patterned shades.
Water is sparingly used in these gardens. It is hardly used for large pools. Water is majorly used as a focal point or to create sounds. Water can also be used as bubbling fountains or decorative rills in courtyard gardens to recreate the effect of Moorish gardens in Southern Italy and Spain. Terra-cotta pots give the gardens splashes of pink and vivid red while colorful mosaics and tiles give the garden vibrant patterns.
MAJOR DESIGN ELEMENTS OF MEDITERRANEAN GARDENS
Pools and Rills
In Mediterranean garden designs, garden designers confine water to rills. Water is used to mark spatial divisions and refresh the air. There are water bowls and overflowing containers in gravel gardens that are used for gentle sound and reflections.
Shady Seating Areas
In the sun-drenched Mediterranean gardens, shade is highly important. Shade can be provided by trees planted in groups or individually. Arbors with climbers and timber pergolas provide nice outdoor shades.
Terra-Cotta Tiles and Pots
Mediterranean gardens usually have terra-cotta pots. These pots are used as planting containers or focal points in the garden. Old olive oil pots are also nice sculptural features. Larger sized pots can also be used where possible.
Little, colored bubbles laid out in intricate patterns are also used to make the floor surfaces on roof terraces and courtyards.
Gravels in Mediterranean gardens usually consist of limestone. The limestones create a textured, light surface through which plants can grow. Focal points can be created using large boulders. The landscape fabric below suppresses weeds.
Silver Foliage and Succulents
Various species have adapted to drought by using silver, fleshy and fine foliage. Lavender and Rosemary are the most popular choices. Bergenia, Agave, Yucca, Genista and Euphorbia are also used.
Also read: TYPES OF GARDENS: Formal Garden. As for the lavender plant used very often in the Mediterranean gardens: Garden design and plants: Lavender will add a luxuriant touch and scent to your garden next spring