While our damp British summers, unpredictable climates and rough-and-ready terrains might be a far cry from pretty, light-dappled Italian courtyards or a sun-baked Spanish landscape, you can still emulate the style and ambience of a Mediterranean garden in good old Blighty. Follow our four top tips for creating a beautiful, bold outdoor room, Med-style, and let holidaying-at-home take on a whole new meaning…
Before you start planting and paving, it is important to get to grips with the hallmarks of a Mediterranean-style garden: these are lived-in, well-used outdoor rooms, rather than overly-manicured showpieces simply admired from afar. This makes for a casual elegance where relaxed, weathered materials and plants are mixed with formal accents and trickling water features. You don’t need a huge garden either as large expanses of lawn are out, in favour of patios, courtyards and low walls – a more contained style of garden with planting along borders or in pots, planters and troughs. Try painting walls and urns in a wash of earthy tones – ochre, terracotta and sand will conjure up a sunny clime even if it’s wet and grey outside- with pops of vivid blue and red to turn up the heat. Or go for a white-stucco Spanish-style plaster as a bright, light backdrop to a hotbed of textural and colourful plants and herbs.
Yes, the Mediterranean garden really is about making the most of your outdoor space (the smell of the herbs, the sound of the trickling water and the sunbleached colours) so set up a small table and chair and sip on a cool glass of Prosecco while the sun goes down.
Be Bold With Blooms
Pick out some Mediterranean-style pots for starters: think large-scale terracotta and clay urns in warm, rustic tones and feel-good sandy hues (clusters of smaller fiddly ones might be a tad too fussy for the laid-back look you want to create). Mediterranean plants like free-draining soil so dig in some grit to your borders and use gravel or pebbles for mulch. The key to choosing the right sort of plants for the Med vibe is they need to look good all year round and cope with hot, dry conditions. Citrus, olive trees, rosemary and lavender are all must-haves and will definitely transform your outside patch into a place from Provence – and don’t forget, a bed of aromatic herbs can also be used fresh in your cooking. Palms and yuccas add a more tropical hint and if you’ve built a pergola (to create shade over your sunniest spot) then plant a flowering climber or vine like Tamarisk or Campsis. Finally, geraniums – or pelargoniums – in bright fuchsia or vivid crimson are perfect for pots, urns and window boxes all over your garden.
If you have a balcony or small patio deck rather than a full-blown garden, you can still get the Mediterranean look with a few simple tricks of the trade. Go for natural materials and warm colours such as pretty wrought iron furniture, a mosaic-topped table and terracotta urns or boxes. Then, decorate with metal lanterns, candles and vibrant cushion pads for Mediterranean flair. Paint the walls in white or pale yellow and pick out rustic terracotta floor tiles or smooth sandstone with a comfortable, well-worn patina. Plant your pots with fragrant lavender, rosemary and thyme and dream of sun-soaked Tuscany and blue seas (even if you’re smack bang in the middle of a busy urban throng).
Relax On Rattan
With relaxation and good living top of the agenda for the Mediterranean lifestyle, you’ll definitely need some comfortable reclining chairs and outdoor furniture to truly immerse yourself into the culture. Rattan chairs and tables fit in perfectly with the rustic vibe, particularly our Walnut lounging collection where you can mix and match sofas, armchairs and coffee tables, piled high with large comfortable, waterproof cushions in stone, orange and citrus shades. For something a little more modern – with a hint of the French Riviera about it – go for our white Hampstead loungers and you’ll feel like you’re on vacation in a fabulous faraway destination, without stepping a foot outside your front door. And relax…
Have you created your own little slice of Spain or a patch of Provence in your back garden? If so, we’d love to hear your thoughts and see your pictures.
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