Here is a typical Mediterranean garden for show, presented at the 2010 Chelsea Flower Show.
English natives adore French Provence and this garden drew quite a crowd. It was designed by James Towillis for the “L’Occitane” brand.
The garden is set up on terraces propped up by low-lying walls which have a name in the local vernacular: “restanques“. Nestled in the “restanques”, thyme is left to run wild, or valerian which is an old friend of ancient walls in sloped lots and offers them a bit of color.
The hues at play in this garden are typically selected from a range of gray and blue, which are relaxing colors that fend off the worst of ambient bright light, together with spots of red and orange to pep it all up a bit.
The gray and silvery leaves are more often than not those of herbs and spices: lavender, sage, artemisia, thyme and rosemary are plants to set up along path edges to make for a fragrant promenade.
This photo was shot in May, and the blue flowers belong to medicinal borage, a beautiful annual that resows itself every year. It is a very melliferous plant. A bit later in time lavender will start to bloom, with the French lavender to the left already bearing flowers. Another blue flower for the Mediterranean garden: iris pallida, native to Southern Europe.
Bright colors are only sparingly added to keep the overall impact on the cool side, with papaver poppies in charge of this, doing so brilliantly with their shape and wildflower-like texture. The marigolds can be replaced with aven (borisii or ‘Mrs Bradshaw’) which also like dry and well-draining soil types.
All in all it makes for a charming poetic garden, not demanding in terms of care, perhaps only trimming the lavender after the blooming to keep them in shape. It is a great idea for a holiday garden!
Where should this garden be set up? This type of garden requires full sun and well drained soil to be at its best.
The perennials used are quite hardy, but the trees aren’t: the almond tree will only hold down to 23°F (-5°C) and the olive tree down to 14°F (-10°C). You’ll need to protect them in winter if you set this garden up in a non-Mediterranean climate.
Rows of lavender and poppy by Amanda Slater under © CC BY-SA 2.0
Rock staircase by Lucy Downey under © CC BY 2.0
Curving lavender by Amanda Slater under © CC BY-SA 2.0
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