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Even on cooler days there is something quite warming about being in a Mediterranean garden.
This is because Mediterranean plants make you feel you are in a warmer climate. The UK has always carried a reputation of being both cold and wet.
It is however, a nation with a huge variation in climate. One thing is for sure, the Atlantic Ocean trade winds ensure it normally stays relatively mild.
This protects its landmass from severe sub-zero temperatures experienced to the east of Europe.
Our Mediterranean / Moroccan themed garden in Little Missenden, Buckinghamshire
This provides a good opportunity to grow Mediterranean plants for arid garden designs. However, UK gardens will still be somewhat restricted in their planting choices.
In this article I will identify 26 Mediterranean garden plants for the UK and cooler climates. Not all of these plants are from the Mediterranean but look the part!
Some are from cold climates but have the look and feel of a Mediterranean plant. Some on this list may need some protection depending upon where you live.
However, the majority of Mediterranean garden plants here are suitable for UK gardens and cooler climates. This also includes temperate parts of Europe and the USA.
Figs are absolutely perfect Mediterranean garden plants origination from the Middle East. These fantastic trees are found throughout the Mediterranean and are fully hardy in the UK.
Their exotic looking leaves can make you feel you are in a distant land! If planted within a microclimate like a south facing wall you may also pick a tasty crop.
2. Sedumn ‘autumn joy’
Sedumn ‘Autumn joy’ is a very striking, perennial plant with distinctive sedum like leaves. This plant has evolved for sites with very little water storing moisture within its leaves.
Sedum ‘Autumn joy’ is fully hardy and can take very low temperatures even though it looks Mediterranean! In autumn you will be rewarded by spectacular large flowers loved by bees.
Mahonias are medium sized shrubs with leathery and spiny leaves. They have a growing habit similar to palms with long, bare stems.
Mahonias are extremely tolerant of cold weather and dry conditions. This makes them a perfect Mediterranean garden plant for cooler climates.
During late winter they burst into colour with long, yellow, flowers.
4. Festuca ‘glauca blue’
Festucan glauca blue is a small blue, grey grass which is an effective clump forming groundcover.
This grass is perfect for the front of flower borders and Mediterranean gravel borders. This evergreen grass is extremely hardy and tolerant of most growing conditions.
Callistemon is also known as the 'Bottle Brush Shrub' for its tubular, brush like, red flowers. Initially originating in Australia this plant has now naturalised to many other regions including the Mediterranean.
Callistemon is very tolerant and hardy and works very well in Mediterranean gardens.
6. Italian cypress
The Italian Cypress is one of the most recognised Mediterranean trees in the world! This Cypress is traditionally associated with Tuscany in Italy but can be found across the Med.
This trees tall and narrow form is a perfect way to add vertical lines to the landscape.
There are very few who do not recognise this famous Mediterranean plant. However, many also do not realise what an effective landscaping plant it is also. This small, evergreen shrub, is perfect for low hedges and growing in pots.
The Olive tree has to be the planting tree of choice for all Mediterranean gardens. This small, attractive tree has beautiful, silvery grey foliage which rustles in the breeze. Olive trees may not fruit in colder climates but do very well in pots.
Phormiums are not originally from the Mediterranean at all, coming initially from New Zealand. Phormiums however, have an extremely elegant and architectural form perfect for Mediterranean gardens. These evergreen shrubs come in a variety of colours and sizes and are perfect for gravel gardens.
10. Trachycarpus fortuni
Commonly known as the 'Chinese Windmill Palm', it’s native to China, Northern India and Japan. As this palm is found in temperate areas of elevation it can withstand much colder temperatures.
There are many examples of this palm growing to full maturity in countries like the UK. These palms are perfect to grow if you are creating a Mediterranean garden in a cooler climate.
11. Arundo donax
Arundo donax is a type of reed commonly found throughout Mediterranean regions. These impressive looking plants can grow up to 3 metres in height.
There are now many cultivated garden varieties which are normally variegated in colour. These can be grown in raised beds and pots and are very effective in Mediterranean gardens.
12. Globe Artichoke
Globe artichokes are a very Mediterranean looking plant which is perfect for garden displays. This plant is well known for its edible flower bud which is regarded as a delicacy.
Globe artichokes have architectural, grey foliage which looks very striking indeed.
13. Grape vines
If there is one climbing plant associated with Mediterranean gardens it is the grape vine. Traditionally Mediterranean vines were grown over pergolas to provide shade from the summer sun.
During the winter the leafless vines would allow sunlight to once more reach the home. Vines could also be utilised for their fruit and edible leaves.
14. Yucca gloriosa
Yucca gloriosa is a very striking palm like shrub originally from Southeast, North America. During the summer it shoots up a central spear of large attractive white flowers.
This evergreen shrub is perfect for Mediterranean gardens but be warned it has very sharp leaves! If you have young children you may wish to prune off the leaf tips.
Agapanthus is a truly beautiful, perennial plant with large circular flower heads. They come in a wide variety of colours and sizes and add seasonal drama to Mediterranean borders.
Originally from South Africa these perennials like warm and dry weather. They should overwinter in the ground in the UK is they have a good layer of mulch.
However they can also be lifted and overwintered like Dahlias.
Miscanthus is a variety of grass which comes in a wide range of sizes and colours. These perennial grasses come up every year and leave a decorative standing yellow straw in the winter.
Many Miscanthus have a Mediterranean look to them including my favourite Miscanthus sinensis ‘Zebrinus’.
Euphorbias are a broad variety of plants which range from annuals to small trees. Many have very interesting shaped leaves and flowers which make them quite unusual.
Euphorbia’s such as Euphorbia Charachias have alumnus yellow, green, flowers and grey foliage. This makes them look extremely at home within Mediterranean garden planting schemes.
18. Fatsia japonica
As the name suggests, Fatisia Japonica is originally from Japan. Typically this plant is more favoured for tropical gardens but also goes well in Mediterranean borders.
It has large, exotic looking, leaves with globe like flower clusters. Fatsia’s prefer a sheltered site but are extremely hardy and grow well in the UK.
19. Pampas grass
Pampas grass is a very large and robust clump forming grass native to South America. This grass has a grey coloured foliage with white feather like flower heads.
There are now much smaller cultivars suitable for more compact gardens. Pampas grass is extremely hardy and has even naturalised in some parts of the UK.
Agaves are large, Cacti like, plants which are native to the Americas. Technically, Agaves are a type of succulent and some are surprisingly hardy to cold temperatures.
There are some very large examples of these growing in the ground in the South of the UK. However to take a more cautious stance these can be grown in a large pot.
Many don’t believe that almonds will grow in cooler climates but some are very cold hardy. Almonds are also more disease resistant than their close relative the peach.
The Early spring flowers of Almonds are divine, they are a perfect small tree for a Mediterranean garden. One of the best varieties for UK gardens is Ingrid.
Nobody can deny that Thyme is an amazing herb to grow outside. I feel however it is extremely underrated as a landscaping plant.
Thyme can form a wonderful evergreen groundcover, very effective for Mediterranean gardens! During summer when it flowers it is a very good food source for bees.
Citrus such as Lemons and Oranges seem the perfect Mediterranean garden plant! However it may also seem a bit of a stretch to plant them in a cooler climate.
Citrus can actually tolerate much cooler conditions than many people give them credit for. These are best grown in large pots and brought inside during the summer.
Why not watch a personal video I made about growing lemons in cooler climates below:
24. Ricinus communis
Ricinus or the 'Caster Oil Plant' is an extremely beautiful and exotic looking perennial. However in the UK it is grown as a fast growing annual.
This plant can really add a tropical feel to any garden and works well in a Mediterranean garden. However beware that this plant is toxic and harmful if eaten.
Commonly known as 'Red Hot Poker', Kniphofia, is a perennial evergreen originally native to South Africa. It has now become a very popular garden plant around the world.
It has erect, blade like foliage, tall flower stalks and striking flowers. The plant has a very architectural form making it a showpiece within the Mediterranean garden.
Cordylines originally came from New Zealand and look very much like a large yucca. Also known as the Cabbage Palm these small evergreen trees are remarkably hardy.
If you visit Bournemouth on the south coast of England these are planted along the seafront. When fully grown they can reach up to 8 metres and provide a very exotic feel.
Cordylines can make the perfect feature tree for a Mediterranean garden.
Thank you for reading our article on the best 26 Mediterranean plants for UK gardens. If you require Mediterranean garden design or Mediterranean garden landscaping do not hesitate to contact us.
We cover most of Buckinghamshire and surrounding counties.
Below I have included some other Mediterranean garden articles you may find useful.
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