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Mediterranean Magic

Mediterranean Magic

If you can’t get away this year, how about creating your own Mediterranean hotspot in your garden? Even if you do manage to escape to the sun for a week or two this year, you’ll still have the rest of the summer at home and a little slice of Italy, France or Greece outside your back door will bring happy memories flooding back.

The first thing to do is to choose the sunniest spot available – it’ll not only make sitting out there more enjoyable, but will also mean that you can install some serious sun-loving plants too.
Painting the nearby house, shed or garage wall with white masonry paint will help to create the right atmosphere.

At the same time it will help to reflect our sunlight – often a bit washed out compared to more southern climes – so providing a stronger light for the type of plants that appreciate it.

Mediterranean gardens often make full use of the walls and any other vertical surfaces, so put up hanging baskets, pots and wall baskets and cram them full of plants.

Plants in pots are a must and if possible choose stone or terracotta containers.

If you want to make brand new pots look more weathered try painting them with a solution of plain yoghurt as this will help to encourage rapid colonisation by mosses, algae and lichens.

Any new hard landscaping such as wall, paths or patios and terraced surfaces will look best in natural stone and there are now also terracotta tiles available for use in the garden.

Terracotta tiles can also have a storage-heater effect too – after a long, hot day they will have absorbed heat and this will then be released gradually in the evening.

Add interest to a vertical surface by planting a vine. They have attractive leaves and there are plenty to choose from that will fruit well in our climate.

You may not be able to create your own vintage but the vines will look particularly authentic when draped with a few bunches of grapes.

Glazed tiles, wall-hangings and the odd ornament or two can also add to the Mediterranean look, but make sure you choose items that won’t be instantly bleached by the sun.

Try growing your own oranges or lemons. With our generally milder winters some gardeners are even managing to keep these plants outside all year round with only the minimum of protection.

Growing your citrus tree in a good-sized terracotta pot means that you can move it into a more protected spot if necessary.

With their wonderful silvery grey leaves and their often rather untidy or gnarled shape, olives too are a plant well worth considering.

Olives are best grown in a large container unless you have a warm garden and a very well-drained soil as they hate winter wet.

Some plants just spell out Mediterranean Magic – try geraniums and pelargoniums, aeoniums and sempervivums, rosemary, thyme, oregano and pretty well anything with silvery foliage.

Go for the brightest coloured flowers and your new holiday destination will also benefit from a subtle Mediterranean aroma too.

[box type=”shadow” align=”” class=”” width=”600″]Visit Pippa’s website For her ‘Winter thru’ Spring’ vegetable collection, great plants for September and regular advice emails from Pippa, and a super range of gardening products including Nemasys caterpillar, slug, ant and other biological controls, Enviromesh & Envirofleece[/box]

By Pippa Greenwood

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