Best Shrubs 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 shrubs for your Mediterranean Garden. Plant them around your Mediterranean perennials 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 Shrubs for your Mediterranean Garden
Artemisia abrotanum (Southernwood) is a perennial sub-shrub typically grown for its magnificent and strongly aromatic, ferny, light green foliage. It forms an upright bushy mound, which releases a pleasant citrus to camphor fragrance whenever brushed or touched. Semi-evergreen in mild winter areas, this shrub is perfect for hot and dry sites.
Glowing and shimmering in the sunny border, Bupeurum fruticosum (Shrubby Hare's Ear) is a graceful, aromatic, evergreen shrub with dainty umbels of sulfur yellow flowers, 3-4 in. across (7-10 cm), on upright stems. Blooming from mid-summer to early fall, the blossoms contrast nicely with the attractive foliage of shiny, deep blue-green, leathery leaves. Native to Southern Europe, this rounded, medium-sized shrub makes a subtle but extraordinary background plant.
Fabulously fragrant, Choisya ternata (Mexican Orange Blossom) is a very handsome, rounded, evergreen, dense shrub with aromatic, glossy, medium green leaves composed of 3 leaflets. A profusion of fragrant, star-shaped, pure white flowers bloom from late spring to early summer and often intermittently throughout the summer and/or in the fall. Both flowers and leaves have the divine fragrance of orange blossoms.
Glowing in the sunny border, Cistus creticus ssp. incanus (Pink Rock Rose) is a bushy evergreen shrub with flamboyant, deep pink flowers, 2 in. across (5 cm), adorned with orange stamens. Although each flower lasts only for a day, this vigorous shrub provides a succession of flowers for weeks in late spring with reblooms throughout the summer. The blossoms are borne atop a low-growing, dense mound of wavy-edged, gray-green leaves. This tough little Cistus tolerates salt spray, wind, and extreme drought conditions, making it an excellent addition to seaside gardens.
Considered by some the most beautiful, Cistus ladanifer (Crimson-Spot Rockrose) is definitely one of the showiest Cistus species. In spring, this dense, evergreen shrub is covered with a profusion of large, up to 4 in. wide (10 cm), solitary papery white flowers blotched with crimson spots at the base of each petal. Although each flower lasts only for a day, this vigorous shrub provides a succession of flowers for about a month. The foliage is strongly resin-scented in the sun and consists of very sticky, narrow, dark green leaves with gray undersides.
One of the showiest Rock Roses, Cistus purpureus (Purple-Flowered Rock Rose) is a small, bushy evergreen shrub with large, yellow-centered, purplish-pink flowers, 3 in. across (8 cm), adorned with plum-red blotches at the base of their petals. Although each flower lasts only for a day, this vigorous shrub provides a succession of flowers for weeks in late spring to early summer. The blossoms are borne atop a dense mound of wavy-edged, narrow, dull green leaves. Excellent for adding sparkling color to seaside gardens.
Excellent for adding sparkling color to dry gardens, Cistus x pulverulentus 'Sunset' (Magenta Rock Rose) is a low spreading, evergreen shrub with eye-catching clusters of yellow-centered, rich cerise flowers, 2 in. across (5 cm). Blooming for weeks until the end of summer, the blossoms are borne atop a compact mound of slightly wavy-edged, felty, gray-green leaves. Discovered in 1929, this hybrid Cistus stands among the most ornamental of all the Mediterranean flowers.
Native to the Mediterranean region, Convolvulus cneorum (Shrubby Bindweed) is a small, spreading, evergreen shrub noted for its attractive silky, silvery-green foliage and large morning-glory-like flowers. Blooming from late spring through summer, it grows in a dense, flattened mound of narrowly oblong leaves, covered with extremely fine hairs, which remain attractive throughout the growing season. They are spangled by abundant pink flower buds that open to trumpet-shaped white flowers with yellow hearts.
Glowing and shimmering in the sunny border, Coronilla valentina subsp. glauca 'Citrina' (Glaucous Scorpion-Vetch) is a small bushy evergreen shrub with pale-lemon, pea-shaped flower clusters in rounded heads of up to 15 flowers. Rich with a sweet peach fragrance, they are borne on short stems in a rounded umbel-shaped head, which forms a crown. Blooming continuously from mid-spring to early summer in warm winter areas, and late winter to late spring in cooler areas, the blossoms contrast nicely with the attractive foliage of blue-gray, pinnate leaves and add cheerful color during the dull days of winter.
Incredibly eye-catching, Crinodendron hookerianum (Lantern Tree) is a fabulous medium-sized evergreen shrub native to Chile. Quite cold tolerant, this exotic beauty displays lantern-shaped, crimson flowers, 1in. long (2.5cm), that dangle on long stalks from the branches from late spring to late summer. They emerge from flower buds that form in the fall, hold through winter and swell at the beginning of the growing season to become these attractive cherry lanterns.
A stunning plant for year-round interest, Euphorbia characias subsp. wulfenii is a statuesque evergreen shrub that enjoys months of chartreuse flowers. Upright, it features erect stems with spirally arranged narrow blue-green leaves. They are decoratively topped with thick bottlebrush-like greenish-yellow flowers in spring, which consist primarily of glowing lime-yellow bracts with purple nectar glands. Remaining attractive during all its growing season, this remarkable plant is resilient to most pests and diseases and is deer and rabbit-resistant.
Noted for its season-long interest, Euphorbia myrsinites, commonly called Myrtle Spurge is an evergreen, succulent perennial with sprawling stems of fleshy, blue-green leaves in close spirals. Through the spring months, it produces eye-catching clusters, 4 in. wide (10 cm), of star-shaped yellow-green flowers within a collar of chartreuse to bright yellow bracts, sometimes suffused with pink.
One of the most reliable shrubs for hot and dry sites, Genista hispanica (Spanish Broom) is a spiny, gorse-like deciduous shrub with abundant clusters of bright yellow, pea-like flowers in late spring and early summer. They are borne atop spiny green stems clad with small and dark green prickly leaves. Forming a dense mound, this tough and showy Mediterranean native thrives on neglect and is particularly useful on a dry bank.
Very floriferous, Genista lydia Bangle® (Lydian Broom) is a compact deciduous dwarf shrub with arching or trailing branches that produces waves of bright yellow, pea-like flowers in late spring and early summer. Flowering is so profuse that the blossoms literally smother the plant. The flowers are born in clusters atop a network of gracefully curving fine stems with soft green, small leaves. Forming a dense mound, this tough and showy native of the eastern Balkans and western Asia has a fantastic texture even when not in bloom.
Covered with abundant, showy rose-like flowers in shades of orange, pink, yellow and white in late spring to early summer, Helianthemum nummuralium (Rock Rose) is a charming low-growing subshrub with an evergreen foliage of gray-green, lance-shaped leaves. Each flower opens for only one day, but new buds keep opening - enabling a long-lasting display (up to 2 months). Great choice for rock gardens, edging, ground cover or border fronts.
Admired for the beauty of its foliage, bright blooms and spicy fragrance, Helichrysum italicum (Curry Plant) is a small bushy evergreen shrub featuring a particularly attractive, fine, linear, silvery foliage with curry-scented leaves. When placed along a walkway, the fragrance can be enticing. In midsummer, domed clusters of small, lemon yellow flowers are produced that are useful in dried flower arrangements since they retain their color.
A robust native of Corsica and Sardinia, award-winning Helleborus argutifolius (Corsican Hellebore) is an evergreen perennial with large open clusters of bowl-shaped, nodding, pale green flowers, 2 in. wide (5 cm). Blooming heavily for weeks from late winter to early summer, these nodding beauties rise on sturdy, thick stems clad with large blue-green leaves divided into three sharply toothed leaflets. Showy and long-lasting, ideal to brighten the shade garden, this Hellebore is more sun tolerant than others.
Unjustly named Stinking Hellebore, award-winning Helleborus foetidus provides gardeners with some of the greatest pleasures in winter. This evergreen perennial features large, open, and long-lasting clusters of cheerful chartreuse, bell-shaped flowers, 1 in. wide (2 cm), edged with dark red. Blooming heavily for weeks from late winter to mid-spring, these nodding beauties rise on sturdy, erect stems above handsome foliage of leathery, narrow, fan-like (palmately divided), dark green leaves.
Forming a carpet of fleshy, gray-green succulent leaves, Lampranthus spectabilis (Trailing Ice Plant) is a tender perennial with a sprawling habit that provides a spectacular floral display as it gets covered with an abundance of colorful daisy-like blossoms, about 2 in. (5 cm) across. Surrounding a cluster of golden-yellow stamen in the center, each bloom displays a ring of long, narrow, petals in bright shades of rose, pink, purple, or white. Lampranthus spectabilis blooms heavily from late winter to spring in warm winter areas, and from early summer to early fall in cooler locations.
Among the best Lavateras to grow in gardens, Lavatera x clementii 'Rosea' (Tree Mallow) is a lovely, medium-sized, semi-evergreen shrub. Resembling hollyhock (Alcea rosea), it blooms continuously from early summer until fall in a colorful display of large pink flowers, up to 3 in. wide (8 cm). This vigorous woody shrub is however far more profuse and bushy than perennial hollyhocks and features handsome maple-shaped gray-green leaves. An established specimen may put on thousands of flowers, each one of which is a delight to the eye!
Symbol of beauty and love in the past, award-winning Myrtus communis (Common Myrtle) is a bushy medium-sized evergreen shrub with small, aromatic, glossy green leaves, which release a pleasant fragrance when crushed. A profusion of fragrant, showy white flowers, 1 in. across (2 cm), bloom from mid-spring to early summer before giving way to purplish-black berries. Always neat and tidy, this Mediterranean native is very easy to grow and useful in water-wise plantings. All in all, a coveted garden plant.
Compact, Pittosporum tobira 'Nanum' or 'Nana' (Japanese Mock Orange) is a small, broadleaf evergreen shrub featuring attractive, leathery, dark-green leaves, glossy on the top and with lighter undersides. They are arranged alternately in a whorl around the stem and provide a dense foliage year-round. Clusters of delightfully fragrant, small pure white flowers appear in late spring at the branch tips. They contrast beautifully against the handsome background of dark green foliage and last for several weeks.
Native to the Iberian Peninsula, Prunus lusitanica (Portugal Laurel) is a beautiful, large evergreen shrub or small tree with dark brown bark, glossy dark green, leathery leaves (5 in. long or 12 cm), and stems of a lovely deep rhubarb color. It is decorated in late spring or early summer with a profusion of pretty racemes of fragrant, tiny white flowers, which are followed by small red cherries that ripen to dark purple by fall. While the ripe berries should not be consumed, birds will strip them all once they are ripe. Portugal Laurel is a superb plant for hedges, screens, and windbreaks.
Noted for its beauty and exceptional fragrance, Rosa gallica var. officinalis, commonly known as Old Red Damask or Red Rose of Lancaster, is a healthy and robust small shrub rose that can be relied on to provide interest and color. Parent to many floribunda and hybrid tea roses, it is covered with profuse, semi-double, rich, deep reddish-pink flowers, up to 3 in. (8 cm). The blooms start out cupped and open almost flat to reveal prominent yellow central stamens in late spring. Flowering is so profuse that the attractive blossoms nearly cover the gray-green foliage.
Prized for its dusky purple foliage, award-winner Salvia officinalis 'Purpurascens' (Purple Sage) is a compact, semi-evergreen dwarf shrub or perennial with strongly aromatic, oblong, purple young leaves delicately maturing to silvery-green. In early summer, it sends up whorls of two-lipped, lavender-blue flowers on short, upright flower spikes. Enjoying both ornamental and culinary qualities, Purple Sage is a favorite of many cooks and gardeners for its unique flavor and lovely foliage. It is great for the herb garden and also wonderful in perennial borders and cottage gardens.
Santolina or Lavender Cotton (Santolina chamaecyparissus), a favorite of Mediterranean gardens, is a beautiful evergreen shrub noted not only for its dense, fine, silvery gray-green foliage all year around but for its drought tolerance. Blooming occurs in summer with a display of small button-like bright yellow flowers, but Santolina is mostly grown for its foliage.
Filling the summer air with its terrific honey-vanilla scent, award-winner Spartium junceum (Spanish Broom) is a vigorous, medium-sized shrub which produces masses of large, bright yellow pea-like flowers, 1 in. long (2.5 cm) in summer. They are borne on flexible, erect, almost leafless, green broom-like stems and are followed by flat green seed pods. Forming a cheerful bush, this tough and showy Mediterranean native thrives on neglect and is particularly useful in poor, well-drained soils in exposed, sunny sites.
Very ornamental, Viburnum tinus (Laurustinus) is a vigorous bushy evergreen shrub noted for its eye-catching flower clusters, colorful berries, and leathery foliage. Opening from pale pink buds from winter to mid-spring, masses of tiny, fragrant, white flower clusters, 2-4 in. (5-10 cm), are elegantly held above the foliage. Rich in nectar, they are loved by butterflies, bees, and other pollinators. The blooms give way to showy bright metallic blue berries. The dense evergreen foliage of ovate, glossy dark green leaves makes Laurustinus an excellent choice for mixed shrub borders or low screens.
Native to the southeastern United States, Yucca filamentosa (Adam's Needle) is a very ornamental, broadleaf evergreen shrub featuring a basal rosette of rigid, sword-shaped, spine-tipped, deep green leaves edged with curly filaments. They are topped in early to midsummer with a dramatic flowering stalk reaching 5-8 ft. (150-240 cm) and bearing panicles of nodding bell-shaped creamy white flowers, about 2.5 in. long (6 cm). Foliage may also be variegated, adding a bright note to the garden year-round.
Adding a bright note to the garden year-round, award-winner Yucca gloriosa 'Variegata' (Spanish Dagger) is a very ornamental, broadleaf evergreen shrub featuring a basal rosette of attractive, rigid, sword-shaped, spine-tipped blue-green leaves, striped and edged creamy-yellow. They are topped in early summer with a dramatic flowering stalk reaching 4 ft. (120 cm) and bearing dense panicles of nodding bell-shaped creamy white flowers. Adds architectural interest to the garden.
Tough, Lavandin tends to grow larger, blooms later and produces more flower spikes than other Lavenders. This Lavender enjoys a remarkable presence in the garden as specimens or hedges. Most Lavandin cultivars are hardy to zone 5 and resist well to fungal diseases in hot and humid climates.
Often associated with the famous purple fields of Provence, Lavandula angustifolia, also called English Lavender, is not native to England but to the Mediterranean. Ideal for garden borders, cooking and potpourri, this lavender also produces the best oils. Delightfully fragrant when brushed against or crushed, this lavender is celebrated for the wispy inflorescences that adorn the tip of each upright stem from late spring to late summer, creating lovely drifts of "cool" colors that sway in the summer breeze.
Lavandula stoechas also called French Lavender, Spanish Lavender or Butterfly Lavender is recognizable by the conspicuous sterile bracts, on top of the short dense inﬂorescence, resembling extravagant ears. Among the earliest Lavenders to bloom, French Lavender enjoys a fairly long blooming season from mid spring to late summer. Flowering typically occurs as early as May (in areas with mild summers and winters) with another flush of blooms in June followed by another flush of color in late summer or fall.
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.
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!
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teodora1 / 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|