Tom Karwin, On Gardening | Thankful for vegetation of the Mediterranean – Santa Cruz Sentinel

Treatment for your backyard garden

This week’s installment for the recent planting time focuses on the Mediterranean region, which involves 17 European, African and Asian international locations bordering the Mediterranean Sea, as nicely as the Madeira Archipelago and the Canary Islands, nearby in the Atlantic Ocean.

Monterey Bay area gardeners favor plants that are indigenous to a Mediterranean climate, characterised by moderate-to-interesting, wet winters and heat-to-very hot, dry summers. This local weather is named for the Mediterranean region, but that label can be distracting simply because a similar climate occurs in coastal California, the southern coast of South Africa, the western coast of central Chili, and the southwestern locations of Australia.

A superior, much more meaningful label for this local weather is “summer-dry.”

Each of these summer season-dry locations have unique indigenous vegetation, so thematic gardening could commit an region inside of the landscape to the crops of 1 of these areas. This plan invites showcasing the crops of a chosen region and benefitting from their prevalent cultural requirements. The UC Santa Cruz Arboretum & Botanic Yard ( and the UC Botanical Yard at Berkeley ( are illustrations of this tactic in public gardens.

General public botanic gardens frequently manage their out of doors locations in accordance to geographic spots these as the summer season-dry parts. Some botanic gardens have an setting for, and an desire in, Asian gardens, which merge distinct crops and a distinct landscaping type. The Huntington Botanical Gardens ( include things like equally Japanese and Chinese gardens.

The full land area of the Mediterranean area has not been specified in the literature that I have observed, probably mainly because it does not align with properly-documented political boundaries. The a number of summer-dry climate places include up to a modest (possibly 5%) component of the world’s whole arable land, i.e., land in shape for developing crops. That can make them distinctive for gardeners.

The summer season-dry weather in just the Mediterranean location has considerable variation, presented distinctions in elevation and other elements. Also, some horticulturalists have described three sub-sorts of this climate: interesting, heat and sizzling summers.

Provided this variation, a Mediterranean region of a garden, no matter whether a smaller or big place, is not likely to group companion crops, indicating individuals that increase jointly in character. Though it would be probable to create these types of a backyard garden, simply just grouping crops that are indigenous to the location is sufficient to illustrate the class and regard their prevalent cultural requires.

The most legendary plants of the Mediterranean area are lavenders (Lavendula), figs (Ficus carica), and olives (Olea europaea). There are several other, significantly less common genera that are indigenous to this botanically wealthy area.

The pursuing crops, randomly selected from my backyard, are a tiny sample of the diverse horticulture of the Mediterranean location. Hopefully, they will recommend the region’s character and curiosity gardeners to contain a range of the region’s plants in their individual gardens.

European Gray Sedge (Carex divulsa). This evergreen, clumping, grassy plant enjoys partial shade, tolerates boggy soils, and, when established, is fairly drought resistant. It grows to 2×2 toes or extra, spreads bit by bit, and supplies an appealing complement to lots of other vegetation. It has been mistaken as a California native, and promoted as Berkeley Sedge, but it is a large-ranging European species.

Rose Rose (Cistus species). This plant is native to Spain and Portugal, hybridizes normally, has been preferred with gardeners given that 1860, and is accessible in 19 species and several cultivars. Well-known kinds include things like Silver Pink Rock Rose (C. argenteus ‘Silver Pink’), White Rock Rose (C. ladanifer ‘Blanche’), and Crimson-Location Rock Rose (C. ladanifer maculatus). These are small-lived plants that produce bouquets in June and July, seed profusely and propagate very easily from cuttings. Pinching back again soon after flowering assists to keep a bushy variety.

Corsican Hellebore (Helleborus argutifolius). This is a sturdy plant with pale green, cup-shaped flowers in late winter to early spring, and eye-catching leathery foliage. It grows to 4 ft tall and 3 ft vast, producing is bigger than most Hellebores, which are commonly just 18 inches tall. Immediately after becoming slash back difficult following flowering, it provides attractive new expansion in the tumble. This species is regarded for seeding several new vegetation each individual season.

Madeira Island Geranium (Geranium maderense). This premier of the Geranium species, is a bineenial 3-foot x 3-foot plant that displays attractive foliage between flowering yrs. When it flowers, it displays a spectacular mass of 1-inch large mauve-pink dark-centered bouquets, increasing to 5 ft. There is also a white-flowered type (G. m. ‘Alba’).

Tall Bearded Iris (Iris ‘That’s All People). The Iris spouse and children features numerous versions of bearded irises (grouped by height), variations of Iris germanica, a normal hybrid of I. pallida and I. variegata. This plant was initially determined in 1753 and has been hybridized into 60,000+ cultivars with an incredible variety of colours, colour combos, and flower sorts. Iris fans are challenged to maintain with the newest introductions. One of my favorites is ‘That’s All Folks’, which was hybridized in Santa Cruz and honored with a lot of awards, including the best-ranked Dykes Medal.

Variegated Lavender (Lavandula x allardii ‘Meerlo’). As already famous, the Lavender is extended affiliated with the Mediterranean location, and appreciated for its visual appeal, fragrance, and moth deterrence. Numerous popular species incorporate English Lavender (L. angustifolia, which is in truth native to Spain, France, Italy, Croatia), French Lavender (L. dentata), and Spanish Lavender (L. stoechas). My garden includes numerous English Lavender vegetation, but I especially like L. x allardii ‘Meerlo’, which is range from the hybrid of L dentata x L. latifoila.

Big White Squill (Urginea maritima/Drimia maritima). This plant is rather the performer. It generates large, 18-inch leaves from November to summer time. The leaves then fade absent, and from summer months to slide the plant generates a 4-foot stalk flower stalk with an inflorescence of a vast range (who’s counting?) of star-shaped white bouquets that appeal to birds and bees. In this process, the massive bulb (up to 12’ huge) splits dichotomously, growing to two bulbs, and finally forming a massive clump.

Progress your gardening knowledge

Approaching webinars:

The Cactus & Succulent Culture of The united states will current the webinar, “Yuccas,” at 10 a.m., Saturday. Yuccas are typically significant evergreen crops indigenous to warm and dry areas of Mexico and the Carribean. They are preferred for extraordinary components in the landscape, and large displays of white or whitish flowers. Brian Kemble, curator at the Ruth Bancroft Backyard garden in Walnut Creek, and a prolific author and speaker on succulent vegetation, will share his information of Yuccas growing in habitat. To sign up for this no cost party, visit

The Backyard Conservancy presents webinar, “Beyond Wild: Gardens and Landscapes,” at 11 a.m. Dec. 2. Backyard garden Designer Raymond Jungles will describe his most impactful style and design tasks, which are also featured in his new reserve of the same title. To register, stop by, click on Virtual Packages and then on “Fall 2021 Literary Sequence.” For the Garden Conservancy’s future webinars, click on on “Winter/Spring 2021 Digital Applications.”

The UC Botanical Yard at Berkeley has declared its December plan of webinars. Early offerings contain “Virtual December Butterfly Stroll – Further than the Bay Area,” (11 a.m., Dec. 5) and “Winter Conifers Virtual Tour” (3 p.m., Dec. 7).  For facts on these free occasions and other digital courses, visit, click on on “Programs” and then on “Programs & Workshops.”

Enrich your gardening days

Look at building your possess collection of vegetation from the Mediterranean Basin. There are each acquainted and pleasingly distinctive vegetation to boost your backyard garden.

Enjoy your backyard garden!

Tom Karwin is previous president of Friends of the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum, Monterey Bay Spot Cactus & Succulent Modern society, and Monterey Bay Iris Culture, and a Life time UC Grasp Gardener (Accredited 1999–2009). He is now a board member and backyard garden mentor for the Santa Cruz Hostel Society. To see each day photographs from his backyard, To research an archive of prior On Gardening columns, take a look at Get hold of him with comments or issues at

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