Mediterranean Planting

Cast yourself away to a distant paradise with our guide to planting a Mediterranean scheme.

Mediterranean gardens conjure up memories of hot summer holidays with a mixture of bright colours, scented foliage and terracotta pots. Whether you cast your mind to the glazed tiled patios and gently rippling pools of Spain, crave the majestic fountains of Italy or perhaps the enclosed courtyards of Morocco, the end goal is the same: creating a slice of the Mediterranean that we all crave.

Types of Mediterranean Gardens

There are two main garden types associated with the Mediterranean: informal and formal.

Informal gardens tend to feature gravel planting with plants arranged in groups, perhaps punctuated by rocks and a specimen tree. This style is inspired by the shrubby vegetation of the south of France and the dry regions of southern Italy and Spain. Citrus fruits, grapevines, lavender, rosemary, grasses and succulents thrive in such conditions. Colours tend to be muted, incorporating soft sage-grey greens and purple-blues.
The formal gardens of the Mediterranean tend to utilize water and stone, often with clipped hedges of Laurus nobilis and specimen trees such as the tall and slender Cupressus sempervirens. Some of the gardens of Spain and southern France take on a Moorish influence. Decorative parterre planting is also typical of the formal style, with plants selected for foliage rather than flower colour and densely planted trees such as Salix providing a cooling shade.

Whichever style you choose, it should be low maintenance overall.

Laurus nobilis
Phlomis fruticosa
Helichrysum italicum


It’s the evergreen shrubs of these habitats with their silver-coloured leaves and leathery textures that quickly invoke the shimmering heat of a hillside villa: Arbutus unedo, which can grow to 20ft, Helichrysum italicum with its distinctive curry aroma and Lavandula of any description. The plants you choose do not need to be native to the country you are replicating, so long as they fit in with the scheme and grow happily in the UK.

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Wisteria species

Scent and Fragrance

Scent is almost as important as a shaded area to rest and unwind in any Mediterranean garden. Pergolas are a functional way of allowing climbers to benefit from the uninterrupted sunshine in the day whilst offering much-needed shade below. Use Jasminum officinale or the Wisteria species to quickly cover a seated area with foliage and soft scents from the abundance of flowers.

Ficus ‘Brown Turkey’

Container Gardening

Container gardening is a famous feature of Mediterranean gardens to add sought-after colour through bold planting. Select pots with wide bases to avoid them being blown over and favour clay pots that will remain cool. Ficus ‘Brown Turkey’ is as at home in a sun-drenched back garden here in the UK as it is in the Mediterranean. Moreover, given a large enough pot, it will do extremely well.

Ponds and Oasis

What can be more appealing in a sun-baked environment than an oasis of calm and tranquillity created using water? Whether it’s through a formal square-edged body of water draped in mosaic or an informal water feature, no Mediterranean garden should be without water.

Creating a Mediterranean Garden

Most plants we associate with the Mediterranean (such as Lavender) come from areas where although they will get cold during the winter, they stay relatively dry. Wet and cold conditions will ensure failure to most of these plants. You can improve the drainage of soil through physical drainage or by building raised beds.

To give your potted Mediterranean planting the best chance of surviving a wet and cold UK winter, ensure you add some grit or perlite to your potting medium and use pot feet to aid drainage.

Arbutus unedo
Chamaerops humilis
Cupressus arizonica ‘Pyramidalis'
Cupressus sempervirens
Ficus ‘Brown Turkey’
Laurus nobilis
Trachycarpus fortunei
Jasminum officinale
Wisteria cultivars
Artemisia cultivars
Atriplex halimus
Buddleja ‘Silver Anniversary’
Choisya cultivars
Cistus cultivars
Convolvulus cneorum
Coronilla valentina subsp. Glauca ‘Citrina’
Eryngium cultivars
Euphorbia cultivars
Geranium phaeum cultivars
Geranium psilostemon cultivars
Helichrysum italicum
Helichrysum petiolare
Lavandula cultivars
Lavatera cultivars
Lotus hirsutus
Melianthus major
Pittosporum ‘Nanum’
Prunus lusitanica
Rosmarinus officinalis cultivars
Salix exigua
Salix Helvetica
Salvia officinalis Purpurascens
Santolina chamaecyparissus
Stachys byzantina
Thyme cultivars
Viburnum tinus
Artemisia ‘Lambrook Silver’
Calamagrostis cultivars
Catananche caerulea
Centaurea montana
Centranthus ruber
Cynara cardunculus
Digitalis parviflora
Festuca ‘Elijah Blue’
Helictotrichon sempervirens
Helleborus argutifolius
Helleborus foetidus
Lychnis coronaria
Mentha cultivars
Miscanthus cultivars
Phlomis fruticosa
Phlomis italica
Phlomis russeliana
Salvia argentea
Senecio candicans
Stipa cultivars
Tulbaghia violacea ‘Silver Lace’
Allium sphaerocephalon
Anemone blanda
Cyclamen coum
Eranthis hyemalis
Fritillaria meleagris
Iris germanica
Iris reticulata