Mediterranean Gardens

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The owner of Mediterranean-style home near Houston�s Memorial Park asked us to develop a garden and landscaping theme that would mirrir the architecture of his home. This house was located on a very large lot of several acres and was characterized by a symmetrical, linear form that in spite of its two-story height appeared much longer than it was tall. .

To create a Mediterranean garden that would accentuate this structure proved a bit more complex than you might assume. Because the southern coasts of Italy and Greece are mountainous areas where homes and gardens are built on hillsides, gardens are often area where homes and gardens are built on steep angles and sharp vertical rises. Gardens and fields are often planted on terraces that wind around the Limestone mountains. The blend of white stucco walls, stark limestone cliffs, and abundant greenery have all become iconic symbols of this region.

However, as we are all aware, the Texas Gulf Coast is very flat, and offers us little or no three dimensional landforms around which to build a terranced Mediterranean garden. Instead, what we had to do here was to add vertical elements to symmetrical forms and areas of verticl movement. This would create the illusion of more than simple flat space, and it would help suggest a number of aspects of typical European coastal terrain.

The first of Mediterranean garden element we added was a circular knot garden located between the sidewalk and the motorcourt, centered on the front door. We used boxwoods to create the circular rows that were reminiscent of terraced hillsides. In the center of the knot garden, we planted a bright purple shrub called Loropatalum that catches and draws in the eye. To give the entire garden a vertical element that would then move the eye upward to the front entrance of the house, we planted a Crinum lily that centered both the vegetation and the doorframe on its stem.

Next, we created a parterre garden centered on the window of a large glass room on the west wing of the house. This garden consisted primarily of low-growth roses whose colorful blooms a made them stand out from multiple vantage points throughout this Houston neighborhood. We made the borders of the garden out of boxwoods, and then used Mediterranean limestone gravel for the garden pathways. To add a three-dimensional element to this reflection of the Riviera, we planted a small shrub called dwarf yaupon which bears a curious resemblance to clouds. This alluded to scenes we have all seen of clouds rolling in from the sea and passing over beautifully landscaped hilltops.

We then extended the Mediterranean garden theme all the way to the back fo the property, where a 50-foot ravine overlooked a wooded area along one of Buffalo Bayou�s main tributaries. We planted an alley of crepe myrtles to draw guests out to this scenic location, and we built a walkway out of limestone aggregate that match the color of the home, pook, and limetsone gravel in the garden.

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Author:
Jeff Halper is passionate for Landscape and wants to share information about that passion. www.exteriorworlds.com

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