Invoke Elegance in an Informal Mediterranean Garden

Mediterranean gardens often manage to be elegant and informal, simultaneously. Here, we share design tips on how to achieve such straightforward style in your own garden.

Mediterranean Courtyard With Trees and Dining Space

Mediterranean Courtyard With Trees and Dining Space

DK - Garden Design, 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

The shade in this Mediterranean garden is provided by flowering trees and ornamental shrubbery. The shade, and sitting in it, makes more possible enjoying the afternoon in the garden.

Mediterranean gardens can be informal or formal, with planting and hardscape materials determined as much by soil and weather conditions as by the mood.

Informal Mediterranean gardens, inspired by the shrubby vegetation of the south of France and the arid regions of southern Italy and Spain, tend to feature planting arranged in structural groups or masses. Olives, citrus fruits, vines, lavender and rosemary thrive in these conditions, as do succulents and grasses. Colors tend to be muted, incorporating soft sage-gray greens and purple-blues. Gravel is used between areas of planting and to create pathways. Drifts of plants appear to emerge spontaneously in the gravel, punctuated by arrangements of rocks and boulders where space allows. Sometimes a dry stream bed is recreated with clusters of informally arranged, drought-resistant plants.

For more intimate and often urban spaces, terra-cotta instantly evokes the style, supplemented by mosaic tiles or features to add splashes of color. Walls may be white-washed to create clear backdrops for shadows, painted in bold hues or left natural, as in this courtyard, to show off the eye-catching variations in rock and other material. Rustic containers introduce colorful planting at key points, and may be used as focal features or arranged in informal groups of different sizes. As shown here, shaded seating offers the visitor a beautiful respite from the summer heat.

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