Best Flower Bulbs for Mediterranean Gardens in Cool Countries
Mediterranean Garden Style, Mediterranean Plants, Mediterranean Garden Design
Cool courtyards built around fountains celebrating the sight and sound of water, tiled patios with dappled shade from cascading vines and plants flowering in turn for all twelve months of the year - Mediterranean gardens have such an irresistible appeal. Fortunately, they are not strictly reserved for gardeners from warmer climates. Gardens in more northern climates can capture the charm, romance and warmth of the Mediterranean style. Thousands of plants from the Mediterranean region thrive in cooler climates, with the added bonus that most are drought tolerant and low-maintenance. The main prerequisite for a Mediterranean garden is full sun and well-drained soils, whatever its location.
Here is a list of suitable flower bulbs, corms or rhizomes for your Mediterranean Garden that will pop up in profusion every spring or fall. Most of them originate from the Mediterranean region and will thrive in more temperate gardens. Plant them in drifts around your Mediterranean shrubs or Mediterranean perennials and enjoy your new landscape. As you will note, most of them have received the prestigious Award of Garden Merit of the Royal Horticultural Society.
Flower Bulbs, Corms or Rhizomes for your Mediterranean Garden
Native to North America, Allium cernuum (Nodding Wild Allium) is a lovely, carefree, bulbous, herbaceous perennial with loose, nodding umbels of tiny bell-shaped, pink to lilac or even white flowers. Erect, each stem produces up to 30 flowers! These blooms are nicely complemented by narrow, strap-shaped leaves that remain attractive for a reasonably long period until they die back in late summer. Blooming from late spring to mid-summer, this lovely Allium exudes an onion smell when cut or bruised.
Native to the Mediterranean, Allium flavum (Yellow-Flowered Garlic) is a showy and carefree bulbous perennial with fragrant umbels of pendant, golden-yellow, bell-shaped flowers on thin arching stalks. Each stem produces up to 60 flowers and rises atop the foliage of narrow, blue-green leaves. Blooming in late spring to early summer, this charming Allium is fully hardy and looks very charming in the rock garden. This beauty naturalizes easily and will come back year after year!
Allium sphaerocephalon or 'Drumstick Allium' is a lovely addition to the border where it adds interest and movement with its dense egg-shaped flower heads atop straight and slender stems, delicately turning from green to purple as they mature. Blooming in late spring to early summer, this spectacular bulbous perennial adds some dramatic color to the garden. Naturalizes easily and will come back year after year
This charming tuberous perennial bursts from the ground in late spring - early summer with highly elegant, white, luminous hooded spathes, striped pale pink. Besides the exotic beauty of its blooms, Arisaema candidissimum (Chinese Cobra Lily) also emits a sweet perfume, which lasts for a short while after the spathe unfolds. The foliage of huge, three-lobed leaves usually appears after the flowers, and remains attractive during the growing season.
Fragrant, Crocus chrysanthus 'Zwanenburg Bronze' is a very showy perennial corm with its rich, deep yellow cup-shaped flowers, heavily marked outside with dark bronze. Amongst the easiest to grow of all Crocuses, 'Zwanenburg Bronze' is not only attractive, but also floriferous, vigorous and reliable. Quite remarkable! Spectacular in large sweeping drifts, under trees, in front of shrubs, along walkways.
Few sights surpass a mixed planting of Cyclamen coum (Persian Violet) on an early spring morning! Award-winning Cyclamen coum is an early spring bloomer with lovely heart-shaped, glossy leaves and small but showy flowers in shades of white to rosy-purple with every hue in between. Adding several weeks of cheerful color and beauty to the garden in late winter - early spring, the blossoms are so abundant that they almost obscure the leaves! Very decorative, the leaves may be plain dark green but are also adorned with pretty silver patterns.
Eranthis hyemalis (Winter Aconite) is a charming tuberous perennial that bursts from the ground in late winter (before crocuses) with cup-shaped, upward-facing, bright yellow flowers (1 in. wide or 3 cm), surrounded by divided leafy bracts. The foliage of rich green leaves, divided into several lobes, emerges after the flowers. Winter Aconites go dormant by late spring.
Noted for their fresh sweet fragrance and bright colors, Freesias are usually grown for use as cut flowers. Each stem produces 5-10 trumpet-shaped flowers that bloom in one-sided racemes atop leafless, arching, wiry stems. Many different hybrids are available in single or double blooms and in a wide array of colors. Requiring minimal maintenance, Freesia are virtually disease-free and pest-free and also constitute lovely border plants, providing striking color and contrast.
Adding a burst of color to your spring, Fritillaria meleagris (Checkered Lily) features 1 or 2 nodding flowers per stem, generally presenting an interesting checkerboard pattern of dark purples and whites - although all-white varieties are also available. Blooming in mid to late spring, this hardy bulbous plant grows up to 14-16 in. tall (35-40 cm). Great for borders, rock gardens, under trees and shrubs and perennial beds. Perfect for naturalizing in a moist woodland edge. Hardiness Zones: 4-8
Native to South Africa, Galtonia candicans (Summer Hyacinth) is a welcomed addition to the late summer garden. Fragrant, this bulbous perennial sends up spikes of charming, pendant, bell-shaped white flowers, often tinged with green, and reminiscent of gladiolus. Each spike may bear up to 30 flowers and rises elegantly atop the dark green, strap-like, fleshy foliage, at a time when many other perennials are done blooming. Its colors are at their loveliest next to blue flowering plants such as Agapanthus or the fiery scarlet red flowers of Crocosmia.
Native to the Mediterranean area, Gladiolus communis subsp. byzantinus (Byzantine Gladiolus) is a bulbous perennial that features narrow sword-shaped leaves in a fan of 3-5 erect flowering spikes, each bearing up to 15 bold, magenta funnel-shaped flowers, 2" wide (5cm). Blooming in late spring to early summer, this eye-catching beauty grows up to 2-3 ft. tall (60-90 cm) and gradually spreads to form large clumps. Puts a terrific show in beds and borders when mixed with other perennials or ornamental grasses. Great for cutting too! This plant will naturalize and multiply with great enthusiasm in favorable growing conditions.
Iris unguicularis (Algerian Iris) is a fabulous iris because of its bloom time. Flowering from late fall to early spring, when so few other plants are bursting from the ground, this Winter Iris features sweetly scented flowers, lavender to deep violet, 2-3 in. wide (5-8 cm). The standards display brownish spotted hafts while the falls are beautifully marked with white and deep yellow at their base. They rise atop a dense clump of grassy foliage of dark green, narrow, tough leaves. Native to the dry Mediterranean climate, this vigorous evergreen rhizomatous perennial also makes excellent cut flowers.
Cultivated for centuries, award-winner Lilium candidum is a majestic Lily with large (2-3 in or 6-8 cm long), glistening pure white trumpets facing outward and bright yellow pollen. Celebrated for its intense and delicious fragrance, this prolific Lily produces clusters of up to 20 blossoms per stem for a spectacular long-lasting display. Plant it near a patio and enjoy its intoxicating fragrance on a summer evening! Reliable and easy to grow, this tremendous Lily won the prestigious Award of Garden Merit of the Royal Horticultural Society.
Multiple award-winner Muscari armeniacum is by far the most cultivated species of Muscari. Its tiny, bell-shaped, cobalt-blue flowers, each with a very delicate white border, form a compact cluster. The flowers remain beautiful for a long time in mid-late spring. A great bulb for naturalizing, that is deer resistant, perfect for containers and outstanding as a border plant.
Muscari latifolium (Grape Hyacinth) is a gorgeous species that is gaining increasing popularity. Its flower cluster displays two different kinds of flowers. At the top are the sterile, light blue flowers. Below them are the fertile, dark purple-blue flowers. This broad-leafed species creates a lovely color combination all by itself and flowers over a long period.
Robust and extraordinarily beautiful, Nectaroscordum siculum (Sicilian Honey Garlic) displays showy clusters of gracefully drooping bell-shaped flowers combining cream, pink and green tints rising on a tall, leafless stem atop blue-gray, twisted basal leaves. Blooming in late spring or early summer, the flowers are then followed by decorative, erect seed pods in late summer which may be dried for winter decorations. Easy to grow, undemanding and beautiful, this plant is a great addition to the landscape.
Native to Bulgaria and Turkey, Ornithogalum nutans is an attractive bulbous perennial boasting one-sided racemes of up to 15 fragrant, nodding, bell-shaped, white flowers in mid to late spring. Each blossom consists of 6 tepals adorned with white edges and a green stripe on the outside. Very pretty, the flowers open up into a star shape and last well when picked. The narrow, strap-shaped bright green leaves feature a silver central vein. A striking cut flower and wonderful naturalizer.
Native to Central and Southern Europe as well as Turkey, Scilla bifolia (Alpine Squill) is one of the earliest spring bloomers, producing two strap-shaped, semi-erect basal leaves and 1 to 6 upright scapes, each of which is topped with a one-sided 2-10 flowered raceme of starry gentian-blue flowers. Blooming heartily from early to mid-spring, Alpine Squill is a beautiful and reliable addition to the landscape, where it will happily multiply in optimum growing conditions. A wonderful way to add a sea of color to the rock garden or the border front. Typically grows up to 3-6 in. tall (7-15 cm). Hardiness Zones: 3-8
Long-lasting, Tulip 'Cynthia' is a lovely bi-color tulip that will make your heart race. This heirloom tulip sends up gray leaves and eye-catching pale yellow flowers delicately flamed rose-red. The blossoms close at night or on a cloudy day but are completely opened on sunny days, forming a perfect star. This botanical tulip naturalizes easily and will form larger colonies with each passing year. Grows up to 10 inches tall (25 cm)
Tulip 'Lady Jane' is quite short but makes a striking impact with its lovely color combination: rosy red with white margins on the outside, and snow-white on the inside. The completely opened flower forms a star during the sunny hours. Wet, windy weather during its flowering period in mid-spring will have little effect on 'Lady Jane'!
Award-winning Tulip 'Tubergen's Gem' is incredibly beautiful with its striking color combination: rhodonite red with sulfur-yellow margins on the outside, and canary yellow on the inside. The completely opened flower forms a star during the sunny hours. A lovely sight! Wet, windy weather during its flowering period in mid-spring, will have little effect on this gem! Growing up to 10 inches tall (25 cm), this tulip naturalizes easily and will come back year after year!
Such a delicate beauty! Tulipa humilis 'Alba Coreulea Oculata' is so refined with its goblet-shaped white flowers with pointed petals and their deep blue heart! A real delight in the garden with its starry flowers opening to expose their steel-blue heart in full sun! Quite short, this gem still makes a striking impact! Flowering in early-mid spring, this small but spectacular tulip grows up 4-6 inches tall (10-15 cm) and naturalizes easily
Some tulips will naturalize and come back to bloom year after year. Tulip 'Lilac Wonder' is one to try! Quite short, this award-winning tulip still makes a striking impact with its lovely color combination: pastel lilac petals with a deep lemon-yellow center. The completely opened flower forms a star during the sunny hours. A beautiful sight! Flowering in mid-spring. Grows up to 8 inches tall (20 cm)
How not to marvel at the goblet-shaped, scarlet flowers of Tulip sprengeri when thrown open and shining in the sunshine? Native to Turkey, this lovely tulip opens up in late spring or early summer from long, slender buff bronze buds, elegantly held above clumps of glossy bright green leaves. Among the last of the tulip species to flower, this tulip is heralded for its ability to seed and naturalize in a garden setting (among shrubs, in open borders, and even in the grass), creating beautiful colonies over time.
Often found in woodlands, Tulip sylvestris is a vigorous, delightfully scented, wild tulip with bright, buttercup-yellow flowers with a green rib running outside and pointed petals. A real delight in the garden with its glowing, starry flowers opening to expose their heart in full sun! Flowering in mid-late spring, this tulip grows up to 14 inches tall (35 cm) and naturalizes easily
Anemone blanda (Grecian Windflower) is a rewarding little plant that can easily provide a great deal of pleasure! Offering dabs of bright colors in mid-spring, mounds of abundant daisy-like flowers show off in shades of white, blue, and pink over the finely cut fernlike foliage. These daisies seem to last for weeks.
Anemone coronaria are most often found as cut flowers, but these gorgeously colored poppy-like flowers also thrive in the home garden where their broad, bright faces are highly appealing. Their dark-centered, single or double flowers, are available in a fresh array of colors including purple-blue, red, pink or white. They are borne on stiff stems atop clumps of finely divided, ferny leaves. Blooming in mid to late spring, they usually last up to 4 weeks. They attract butterflies and make wonderful cut flowers.
Among the earliest to flower, this species has elegant blossoms of pale lavender to red-purple with a silvery reverse. The profuse flowering and spontaneous self-propagation make this crocus a very good choice for naturalizing. Blooming from late winter to early spring, the calyx-shaped flowers open when the sun shines or when there is a lot of light; they close up in rainy weather and at night.
Amazingly decorative and easy to grow, Martagon Lilies feature bountiful 2-4 inch blossoms (5-10 cm), mostly downward facing with strongly recurved tepals and resembling a Turk's cap (hence their common name). Yellow, pink, lavender, light orange, deep dark red and white are the colors most frequently seen and are often accompanied by whimsical speckles and freckles. There is a form of the species called Lilium Martagon 'Album' that is a pure spotless white.
Reminiscent of a hoop petticoat caught in the wind in early to mid-spring, Narcissus bulbocodium is by far the most widespread of the hoop petticoat daffodils. The main characteristic of this charming daffodil is short, very narrow petals and huge, flaring, funnel-shaped cups. Low-growing, it blooms prolifically, 3-5 blossoms per bulb, over a long season. Its attractive foliage of dark green leaves, resembling clumps of chives, is almost evergreen. Thriving in sunny locations and acid soils, it is excellent for naturalizing as it multiplies quickly and self-seeds as well.
The Tazetta Narcissus group includes very short cupped, sweetly fragrant, mid-sized daffodils bearing multiple flowers, up to 3-20 per sturdy stem. Many are not hardy to the more northern climates, but are terrific performers in USDA Zones 5-9. Excellent for forcing (this division includes the world-famous but tender paperwhites), they also naturalize readily in wet-winter, dry-summer climates. Suitable as garden plants or for cutting, most bloom in mid-late spring.
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Here is a list of suitable perennials for your Mediterranean Garden. Most of them grow wild in the Mediterranean region and will thrive in more temperate gardens. Plant them in drifts around your Mediterranean shrubs and enjoy your new landscape!
Gardens in northern climates can capture the charm, romance and warmth of the Mediterranean style. Thousands of plants from the Mediterranean region thrive in cooler climates, with the added bonus that most are drought tolerant and low-maintenance.
Traditionally, Italian gardens are "green' with few flowers. The plants are mainly evergreens, manicured into geometric hedges or topiaries. However, the evergreen foliage of these shrubs or trees offers a wide array of shades, ranging from gray to silver, bronze to gold, or simply from light to dark green.
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Photo Courtesy : 123rf
While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.
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