Tom Carwin, thank you for gardening on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea

This week’s vegetation season focuses on the Mediterranean, covering 17 Mediterranean, European, Asian and Asian countries around the Mediterranean Sea, as well as the Madeira Islands and Canary Islands near the Atlantic Ocean.

Bay gardeners love plants that are typical of the Mediterranean climate, ranging from mild to cold, rainy winters and hot and dry summers. This climate is named for the Mediterranean region, but the same climate may occur on the coasts of California, South Africa, South West Central Chile and Southwest Australia.

A better, more meaningful label for this climate is “summer-dry”.

Each of these summer-hardy regions has its own unique native plants, so garden care can provide the environment in one of these regions. This plan invites selected regions to display plants and benefit from their cultural needs. Examples of this approach are the public gardens of UC Santa Cruz Arboretum & Botanic Garden ( and UC Botanical Garden at Berkeley (

Public parks often organize their outdoor environments in geographical areas, such as summer. Some orchards have an area and interest in Asian gardens that combine unique flora and fauna. Huntington Botanical Gardens ( includes both Japanese and Chinese gardens.

The total area of ​​the Mediterranean is not mentioned in the literature I have seen, perhaps because it is not aligned with well-defined political boundaries. In many summer-arid climates, small amounts (perhaps 5%) of the world’s total agricultural land are available, ie, suitable for crop production. This makes them unique to gardeners.

Summer-dry climates in the Mediterranean region vary greatly, varying in height and other factors. Some gardeners also describe three subtypes of this climate: cold, hot, and hot summer.

In view of this difference, the Mediterranean area, no matter how large or small, could not be grouped together. While it is possible to cultivate such a garden, simply grouping plants from the region is enough to show the category and respect their common cultural needs.

The most popular plants in the Mediterranean are lavender, Ficus carica and Olea europaea. There are many other, lesser known species of this genetically rich region.

The following randomly selected plants from my garden are a small sample of a variety of fruits and vegetables in the Mediterranean region. We hope that they will suggest the nature of the region and the interest of gardeners to include the choice of local plants in their own garden.

European Gray Sage (Carex divulsa). This evergreen, herbaceous, grassy plant enjoys partial shade, tolerates swampy soils, and is resistant to drought when established. It grows up to 2 × 2 feet or more, spreads slowly and provides an attractive complement to many plants. He was mistaken as a native of California, and was marketed by Berkeley Sage, but is a broad European breed.

Pink Rose (Cystic species). This plant is native to Spain and Portugal, is naturally mixed, has been popular with gardeners since the 1860s, and is found in 19 species and several species. Popular species include Silver Rose Rock (C. Argentineus ‘Silver Rose’), White Rock Rose (C. Ladanifer ‘Blanch’) and Crimson-Spot Rock Rose (C. Ladanifer Makulates). These are short-lived plants that produce flowers in June and July, seeding abundantly and easily from the bush. Pruning after flowering helps to maintain the shape of the bush.

Corsican Helebor (Helbores Arguthilus). It is a pale green, hardy plant with flower-shaped flowers and attractive leaves from late winter to early spring. It can grow up to 4 feet tall and 3 feet wide, which is larger than most helboards, usually only 18 inches. After flowering is well cut, it brings attractive new growth in the fall. This species is known for sowing many new plants each season.

Madeira Island Geranium (Geranium Maderense). This large geranium is a two-foot, three-by-3 x 3-foot plant that exhibits attractive foliage during flowering years. When it blooms, a 1-inch-wide mavi-pink black-medium-sized flower, up to five feet tall, impresses. There is also a white flower shape (GM ‘Alaba’).

Iris with long beard (Iris’ is that everyone). The Iris family includes several versions of the beard iris (divided by height), variations of iris germicica, I. pallida and I. variegata natural. This plant was first identified in 1753 and has been mixed into 60,000+ species with a variety of colors, color combinations and floral patterns. Iris lovers find it difficult to keep up with the latest introductions. One of my favorites is ‘All That People’, which has been honored by many awards, including the Santa Cruz hybrid and top-notch dice medal.

Lavandula x allardii ‘Meerlo’. As mentioned earlier, lavender has long been associated with the Mediterranean region, and thanks to its appearance, aroma and moth protection. Many popular species include the English lavender (L. angustifolia, which are actually Spanish, French, Italian, Croatian), French lavender (L. dentata) and Spanish lavender (L. stoechas). My garden contains a lot of English lavender plants but I especially like Lx allardii ‘Meerlo’, which is from El Dentata xL. Latifoyla is a mixture.

Giant white squid (Urginea maritima / Drimiya maritima). This plant is very effective. From November to summer, it produces 18 inches wide. Then the leaves fall off, and from summer to fall the plant produces a four-legged trunk flower, with a large number of (who counts?) Star-shaped white flowers attracting birds and bees. In the process, the larger bulb (up to 12 ‘in diameter) splits in two and grows into two bulbs, eventually forming a larger pile.

Develop your gardening knowledge

Upcoming Webburners

American Cactus and Sugar Society will be hosting Webburn’s “Ukas” on Saturday at 10 am. Yucas are large, evergreen plants native to tropical and subtropical areas of Mexico and the Caribbean. Large displays of landscape and white or white flowers are popular. Brian Campbell, supervisor of Ruth Bancroft Garden in Walt Creek, and an expert author and herbalist, talks about growing up in a residential area. Visit cact to register for this free event.

The Gardener will be presenting a webinar, “Beyond the Forest and Landscapes” on December 11 ፡ 00 00. Garden designer Raymond Jungles describes some of his most influential design projects, which will be featured in his new book. To register, visit, click Virtual Programs, and then click on Fall 2021 Literary Series. For future gardener webinars, click on “Winter / Spring 2021 Virtual Programs.”

UC Plants Garden in Berkeley announces the December Webnar program. Early offerings include “Virtual December Butterfly Walk – Bay Area” (11 am December 5) and “Winter Conference Virtual Tour” (3 pm, December 7). For information on these free events and other virtual programs, visit, click on “Programs” and then “Programs and Workshops”.

Enrich your gardening days

Consider developing your own collection of plants from the Mediterranean basin. There are a variety of plants that are both well-known and fun to enhance your garden.

Enjoy your garden!

Tom Carwin is a former president of the UC Santa Cruz Arborretum, the Monterey Bay area cactus and sugarcane community, and the Monterey Bay Irise Society and UC Master Gardener.

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