Best Perennials 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 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. Don't forget to combine them with perfect flower bulbs that will pop up in profusion every spring or fall! As you will note, most of them have received the prestigious Award of Garden Merit of the Royal Horticultural Society.
Suitable Perennials for your Mediterranean Garden
If you love true blue flowers, do not overlook Anchusa azurea (Italian Bugloss). This pretty biennial or short-lived perennial forms loose clusters of tiny bright blue flowers, resembling those of forget-me-nots, on tall stems rising atop low clumps of large, deep green, hairy leaves. Blooming profusely for about 4 weeks in late spring to early summer, this Mediterranean native makes a beautiful background specimen for the sunny late spring border. Although short-lived, Anchusa azurea often self sows and remains present in the garden.
Vigorous and eye-catching, Aubrieta deltoidea (Rock Cress) is a mat forming, semi-evergreen perennial plant which produces, delightful vivid purple-red flowers in mid-late spring to early summer. The blossoms are so abundant that they almost completely cover the gray-green foliage below, creating a striking scenery. Low and trailing, Aubrieta excels as ground cover, planted between stepping stones, along pathways, or in the crevices of stone walls.
A symbol of love, the flamboyant, rich blue flowers of Catananche caerulea (Cupid's Dart) are pretty additions to the garden and a favorite of flower arrangers. Blooming for weeks, from summer to fall, this attractive perennial features branched sprays of violet-centered, lavender daisy-like flowers, 1-2 in. wide (3-5 cm), surrounded by strawlike, shining bracts. They are followed by attractive papery seedheads that are excellent for dried arrangements.
Prized for its flamboyant, rich blue flowers, Centaurea montana (Mountain Cornflower) is an erect, stoloniferous, clump-forming perennial with fringed, blue flowers, 2 in. wide (5 cm), adorned with reddish blue, thistle-like centers from late spring to early summer. Attracting bees, butterflies and other admirers, the thistle-like blossoms may bloom again in late summer-early fall. The flowers appear atop unbranched stems above the foliage of soft, gray-green, lance-shaped leaves. Native to Europe, this rhizomatous perennial will self-seed prolifically if not deadheaded and may spread fairly quickly to form colonies in satisfactory growing conditions.
Bushy, well-branched, with one of the longest blooming seasons, Red Valerian (Centranthus Ruber) is a popular perennial grown for its ornamental and showy star-shaped flowers. Fragrant, this border beauty is also easy to grow, fairly pest and disease free and attracts butterflies. What else to ask for? A prolific bloomer from early summer to fall, it produces abundant, rounded clusters of crimson ('Coccineus'), pink ('Roseus') or white flowers ('Albus'), rising atop a blue-green, lance-shaped foliage.
Native to the Mediterranean region, Convolvulus althaeoides (Mallow Bindweed) is an attractive perennial with long, trailing, silvery stems, clothed in a lacy silvery foliage of heart-shaped leaves. Twisting and twining, the stems throw out large, trumpet-shaped, ice-pink flowers, 1-2 in. across (2-5 cm), from mid summer to fall. Either used as a climbing or trailing perennial plant, Mallow Bindweed has roots that spread as fast as its silvery stems and may become invasive in mild climate areas. Be careful or adopt a container!
Native to the Mediterranean region, Convolvulus sabatius (Bindweed or Ground Morning Glory) is a luscious, trailing, woody-based perennial noted for its endless production of widely funnel-shaped, lavender-blue flowers, 1-2 in. across (2-5 cm), throughout the year in mild winter areas, from early summer to early fall elsewhere. Hugging the ground, this charming groundcover has small, oval soft gray-green leaves which are evergreen where hardy.
Providing striking color and architectural height to borders, Digitalis ferruginea (Rusty Foxglove) is an eye-catching biennial or short-lived perennial boasting tall spikes of pendulous, funnel-shaped, creamy to pale golden-brown flowers with rusty interior veining. Blooming in late spring to early summer, they rise from a basal rosette of dark green, deeply veined, evergreen leaves. They are attractive to hummingbirds, which hover near the tubular blossoms and to birds, which will flock to the seedheads in the fall. This architectural plant naturalizes well as it self-sows profusely, creating lovely colonies in the landscape. A wonderful addition to the herbaceous border.
Native to the Mediterranean region, Digitalis parviflora (Small-Flowered Foxglove) is a slender perennial rich of subtle charm. It produces tightly packed spires of chocolate flowers veined violet with a mahogany lower lip. Blooming from late spring to mid summer, they arise from a basal rosette of downy, lance-shaped leaves and provide fascinating color and architectural height to borders. Attractive to bees, which hover near the tubular blossoms, and to birds which flock to the seedheads in the fall, this lovely plant naturalizes well and will create lovely colonies in the landscape.
Considered by most growers as the loveliest Globe Thistle, Echinops Ritro 'Veitch's Blue' is an excellent rebloomer that produces abundant, dark violet-blue flowers at the end of gracefully curving, branched, silvery stems. Blooming from mid summer to early fall, the bold and ornamental, steel blue globe-shaped flowers (the size of a golf ball) rise above the foliage of sharply divided, dark green leaves, covered in down beneath. Adds outstanding contrast, interest and color to the summer garden while being trouble-free and low maintenance.
Few shrubs produce such magnificent conical flower spikes! Pride of Madeira (Echium candicans or Echium fastuosum) is a fascinating biennial mounding shrub displaying fabulously eye-catching, cone-shaped blue clusters from late spring through summer, atop sculptural and attractive rosettes of silvery-green, hairy leaves. Mostly pest or disease free and requiring low maintenance, Pride of Madeira is evergreen, drought tolerant, deer and salty winds resistant. It also attracts scores of birds, bees, butterflies and hummingbirds.
Native to southern Europe, Echium vulgare (Viper's Bugloss) is an upright annual or biennial plant with dense cylindrical spikes of bell-shaped violet-blue flowers with elegantly protruding red stamens. Blooming from late spring to early fall, the flowers are followed by rough nutlets resembling viper heads before the plant dies. They rise from a basal clump of lance-shaped leaves with bristly hairs. Echium vulgare was once used as a treatment for viper bites, hence its common name. It doesn't attract snakes or vipers!
Eryngium bourgatii 'Picos Blue' (Mediterranean Sea Holly) is a lovely addition to the garden or mixed containers for various reasons. Unlike other species, its deeply lobed, dark green foliage, which appears before the flowers, is elegantly marbled with broad silvery white veins, making it very attractive and luminous. In mid-late summer, its branched stems produce extraordinarily eye-catching, cone-like flower-heads with narrow, spiny, deep blue bracts that make wonderful additions to dried flower arrangements.
With its luminous spiny collar of silvery-white bracts surrounding an egg-shaped flower head and tightly packed with flowers, initially pale green, then changing to steel-blue, Miss Willmott's Ghost (Eryngium giganteum) is quite a catch and an asset to any garden! Rising atop a basal rosette of heart-shaped green leaves, this short-lived perennial or biennial self-sows generously and remains in the garden year after year for our utmost pleasure.
Tall, with larger flowers than other varieties, Sea Holly 'Jos Eijking' is extraordinarily eye-catching with its multitude of intense, iridescent metallic blue flowers, tightly packed into egg-shaped heads, that light up the garden throughout summer. Its beautiful texture and unique color that extends onto the stems and leaves, coupled with its long-lasting flowering, easy care and remarkable qualities as cut flowers make it a favorite of gardeners. A favorite of bees and butterflies too!
Hardy and tall, Geranium phaeum 'Lily Lovell' (Dusky Cranesbill) is an exceptionally beautiful geranium with slightly reflexed, dusky purple flowers adorned with a white heart in late spring to early summer and with sporadic rebloom throughout the summer. Elegantly floating above a deeply lobed, bright green foliage, the flowers of this species are among the largest of the Geranium phaeum group with a 1.5 in. diameter (4 cm). Performs best in part shade.
One of the largest hardy species, award-winning Geranium psilostemon (Armenian Cranesbill) is quite eye-catching with its large magenta cup-shaped flowers, up to 1.5 in. wide (4 cm), with black centers and dark veining, rising atop broad, exotic fan-shaped leaves that turn red in fall. Putting on a great show from late spring to late summer, this hardy Geranium is reliable, easy to grow and provides long-lasting color for any garden.
A truly magnificent sight in the early to mid summer garden, award-winning Geranium x magnificum (Purple Cranesbill) is a hybrid hardy geranium forming dense mounds of large, 2 in. wide (5 cm), rich violet-blue, heavily veined, saucer-shaped flowers atop a velvety, deeply-lobed foliage that turns red in fall. While the flowering season of this geranium is fairly short (a couple of weeks), it is so intense and stunning that, coupled with this fall color interest, a garden spot should be dedicated to it.
Native to the Mediterranean region, Salvia sclarea (Clary Sage) is an attractive biennial or short-lived perennial which forms a basal rosette of strongly scented, wrinkled, gray-green leaves. In late spring, the very showy inflorescence of tubular, two-lipped, creamy white to lilac flowers opens well above the foliage. Although the flowers are quite small, they are subtended by papery, mauve-pink bracts that attract attention. Adding a cottage flavor to the garden, this sage creates real drama when in peak bloom.
Native to Argentina and Chile, Sisyrinchium striatum (Pale Yellow-Eyed Grass) is a semi-evergreen perennial that forms tufts of long, upright, sword-shaped, gray green leaves. In late spring or early summer, multiple spikes of small, pale yellow flowers with golden centers and delicate purple stripes rise above the foliage before being followed by black seed pods. Each blossom opens for just one day with the morning sun and closes at dusk.
Lamb's Ears (Stachys byzantina) is a wonderful evergreen perennial, mostly grown for its rich rosettes of showy, velvety, silvery tongue-shaped leaves, resembling lamb's ears and bringing interest to the border. Pink-purple flower spikes appear in late spring or early summer. Their fuzzy flowers add textural interest, but cutting them off promotes foliage growth and improves the plant's vigor.
Eye-catching, Anthemis tinctoria is a vigorous perennial that will light up your garden throughout summer and sometimes into fall with its abundant blooms of shining golden yellow flowers atop a fragrant lacy foliage. A low-maintenance plant, it adds long-lasting color and contrast to the summer perennial border.
You may want to review these useful guides too
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 Mediterranean region and will thrive in more temperate gardens.
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.
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|Characteristics||Cut Flowers, Fragrant, Plant of Merit, Showy|
|Garden Styles||Mediterranean Garden|
shaiith / 123RF Stock Photo
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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|Characteristics||Cut Flowers, Fragrant, Plant of Merit, Showy|
|Garden Styles||Mediterranean Garden|
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