One of the great mistakes many people make in Mediterranean-style landscape design is to incorporate plants that don't blend in with their natural surroundings. To make matters worse, the home owner (or the home owner's gardener) then prunes everything perfectly round or, worse yet, in geometric shapes--giving their home the look of a stage set from the movie Edward Scissorhands.
A house needs to connect with its natural surroundings to feel truly at home. With a little planning you can select the right plants to not only blend your home with the wilder landscape around it but also to create a garden that stands up to the sun and reflects the best that its rays have to offer. The key is to soften plants with formal growing habits by pairing them with free-form shrubs, perennials and grasses.
Most Mediterranean designs use Italian cypress, arborvitae, boxwood, laurel or yew (Taxus) to define the garden and give it some stature. Now consider house or garden walls that might be softened with the addition of a clinging vine such as Boston ivy or creeping fig. You could also incorporate grape vines on arbors, fences or pergolas.
The next thing to do is introduce motion to your garden with the addition of ornamental grasses. Start with a few closer in the foreground and then consider planting groups of three or more as you move farther out. Ornamental grasses change with the season just like the ones that cover the hills, making them great transitional plants. They are wonderful at reflecting sunlight and many have attractive showy plumes that add another shape to the garden.
To give the garden some more visual punch, plant flowering perennials that you might expect to find in a field, such as agastache, aster, coreopsis, gaillardia, geranium (species), lavender, rudbeckia, salvia, and veronica. For some extra color and movement also consider tall stemmed daylilies and statice (Limonium).
Finally, for real standout color, consider adding roses to the landscape. You could create a formal hedge using a pure white rose, or just plant roses randomly throughout the landscape and let them blend in. Roses look great in Mediterranean gardens because it is natural to see roses at the end of grapevine rows throughout Tuscany.
To help conserve water, make sure to cover your planted areas with some type of decorative mulch. To complete the look of your sun garden, consider adding a small-scale fountain water feature and some empty decorative glazed containers. These will add style and form to the garden as well as reflect additional sunlight, sending rays of light throughout your new garden.
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