Bringing Mediterranean planting to Britain


Mark Griffiths explains why we value Mediterranean planting patterns so tremendously, why he urges all to purchase Mr. Filippi’s ‘Bringing the Mediterranean into your Garden: a way to seize the natural beauty of the garrigue’ and why he could by no means undertake the strategies defined within himself.

Over the beyond 30 years, Olivier and Clara Filippi have constructed up Pépinière Filippi (www.Jardin-sec.Com), a nursery at Mèze in the Midi, France, that specializes in Mediterranean flora. They have also pioneered a method of lawn-making that’s new for the region. It uses local species in schemes that mirror their wild habitats, installs no artificial irrigation, and supply free rein to the dynamics that function in natural ecosystems.

‘Much as I respect his technique, I ought to never undertake it.’

Last month noticed the guide of M. Filippi’s fantastically illustrated extent in this revolution: Bringing the Mediterranean into your Garden: how to seize the herbal splendor of the garrigue (Filbert Press, £40). May appears early to be naming one’s gardening ebook of the yr, but there’s no resisting the maquis in those pages.

Much as I admire M. Filippi’s technique, I should never adopt it.

Bringing Mediterranean planting to Britain 1

I want to domesticate a much wider range of species, as carefully as everyone calls for. One wouldn’t deprive domestic animals of the water, so why stint lawn plants? But I do delight in this ebook for its discipline notes, plant inventory, and layout ideas.

In any case, Mediterranean gardening in Britain isn’t the same as inside the Mediterranean, as M. Filippi allows. Our climate remains different, as is our mindset to the flora concerned. They’re exotics to be tended and valuable; they’re not even all from the Med.

Our fondness for developing them in all likelihood took root all through the Roman profession. However, the first documented flowering didn’t show up till the sixteenth century. The Elizabethan gardening cognoscenti cultivated Tamarix, Phillyrea, olives, holm alright, and cypresses, in addition to lavender, rosemary, Cistus, Santolina, and Artemisia. Come iciness, many survived unprotected, albeit within the embody of walled gardens.

Then, our climate went north because the Little Ice Age bit difficult. By the 1670s, John Evelyn became lamenting the bloodless’s devastation of Mediterranean prizes. Gardeners overlooked them till the nineteenth century, while botanical travelers reacquainted us with this frost-banished vegetation. Charmed, we resolved to risk these flowers exterior again, most effective, this time; we learned to propagate them and to preserve some of every in reserve below glass over wintry weather.

Before lengthy, we had been discovering that Mediterranean-like areas came about around the world and that their vegetation deployed comparable techniques towards sun and drought: mainly, their foliage, which ranged in texture from fleecy to succulent, wax-bloomed, bone-hard and filigree-great, and in color from silver to hoary-white, blue-gray and bronze.

These numerous complexions account for some of our gardens’ maximum putting and delightful accessions: Corokia cotoneaster and Olearia microdontia from New Zealand; Acacia bailey-ana Purpurea and Leucophyta brownie from Australia; Melianthus main and Kniphofia caulescens from South Africa; Fascicularia bicolor and Colletta paradox from South America; Romneya coulteri and Yucca rostrata from the American South-West; Elaeagnus Quicksilver and Pyrus salicifolia Pendula from the Caucasus; and Crambe maritima and Eryngium maritimum, our very own pricey local sea kale and sea holly.

I used all of the above within the first of many gravel gardens I’ve made – along the south face of my circle of relatives’ home in Buckinghamshire. It turned into ‘full of the warm South,’ but, upholstered with silver-gray shrubs and perennials from the garrigue, maquis, matorral, and phrygana.

Their hardiness concerned me greater than that in their Southern Hemisphere partners. I’d over-winter spares of my favorite Cistuses, Teucrium fruticans and Phlomis italics in a chilly frame and be troubled approximately frost on Helleborus lividus Paeonia cambessedesii, two Balearic beauties that bloomed too early for safety. Often, the fear became out to be warranted: this was inside the early Nineteen Eighties, while our winters had been nonetheless long and difficult.

Soon afterward, our climate started developing especially milder. Mediterranean planting prospered. As a policy, it saved water and labor, as Essex masterpieces, Beth Chatto’s Gravel Garden and Hyde Hall’s Dry Garden, illustrated.

As a style and plant palette, it offered ever greater pleasures. We ought to now develop olives, Italian cypresses, and the fan palm Chamaerops humilis, all previously deemed gentle. The influx of suitable candidates from past the Mediterranean also multiplied, and it keeps.

Recently, as an instance, it has delivered us Senecio candidates Angel Wings, a prodigious perennial, with large and pricey, silver-pelted leaves, that turns out to be a way more difficult than humans imagined – however, then what else would one expect from a Falkland Islands local?

So I stand via our model of the Mediterranean garden – eclectic, outlandish, suave, and nurtured – at the identical time as urging ‘Do buy M. Filippi’s book.’