“A garden must combine the poetic and the mysterious with a feeling of serenity and joy.” – Luis Barragan, (Mexican architect)
A Mediterranean garden is a romantic refuge that inspires relaxation and the comfort of feeling you are in somewhere far way from the concrete and traffic of urban life. Its key features are coloured tiles and gravel walks, neatly clipped hedges, a riot of brightly coloured flowers and aromatic plants interspersed with hardy succulents, plus shaded arbours and cooling water features. Creating your own Mediterranean garden, with the help of a professional gardener if needed, will provide you with a personalised retreat where you can enjoy the sunny days of Spain.
A shaded seating area makes it possible to enjoy outdoors for longer on the hottest days. One of the prettiest solutions is a plant-covered pergola. Not only does a pergola add an attractive feature to the house and garden, it is practical as well. When covered with scented, climbing plants, like jasmine, balmy evenings spent sitting outdoors will elevate the senses and encourage serenity.
Some suggested plants for a pergola:
Terracotta pots are a major feature of Mediterranean gardens, whether you are in Spain, France, Italy or Greece. They complete the look. There is an enormous selection of shapes and sizes to choose from. Ideally choose pots with a wide base, as they are less likely to get blown over and clay pots are better, because unlike plastic ones, they remain cool in the sun, which helps retain water.
The reason that gravel paths feature in so many classic Mediterranean gardens is the lack of water to maintain a grass lawn. Lack of water is not an issue in Marbella and most private residences have well-kept lawns, or use fake grass. However, it may be possible to use part of the garden area for gravel paths amid flower beds and so have the best of both worlds.
Marbella residences have private swimming pools, but smaller water features in other areas of the garden, particularly if you want some quiet seating areas away from the rest of the house, will provide an attractive coolness. Furthermore, birds and butterflies love water features, so you will be able to enjoy having colourful visitors as well.
Multi-coloured Moorish tiles lift the appearance of the garden to another level, especially if used against a white-walled backdrop. There are so many ways to use tiles in a garden whether it is a piece of mosaic wall art, to seating made from tiles. The possibilities are endless.
Succulents need little water and provide a canvas of greys, greens and purples to offset the brighter plants. Intersperse these with herbs and you have the addition of a glorious range of fragrances. Gardeners recommend:
Add in bougainvillea, Dama de Noche, roses, Birds of Paradise and other bright flowers to contrast with the succulents.
The clipped box hedge, or even topiary, is the element that gives the garden a structure or frame. Add in the imperious height provided by Italian cypresses and you have shade and privacy.
If you fancy designing your own Mediterranean garden and doing the work, one of the most useful books for those living in Marbella is Your Garden in Spain by Clodagh and Dick Handscombe, who are recognised as experts, and have 40 years combined experience of gardening in Spain. Alternatively, Marbella has landscape architects and garden designers, such as Bottanicca and Happy Gardens, plus many firms who specialise in garden maintenance.
With a climate that begs you to spend more time in the fresh air; having a garden that is poetry for the senses will ensure that’s where you want to be from morning coffee to evening cocktails.