All stories

A Mediterranean garden in South Australia

By Lib Bartholomeusz, Moonta Bay SA

I am enjoying growing a Mediterranean garden in Moonta Bay, in South Australia.

Distinct seasons in a Mediterranean climate

A garden in a Mediterranean climate is fun because the seasons are distinct and interesting. They are generally not too harsh to restrict what can be grown. We have wet mild winters, rarely a frost and hot dry summers.

Planting needed to be adjusted as plants grew, image Lib Bartholomeusz

Drought tolerant plants essential

The hot dry summers are a critical consideration in our garden design. The section in the photo was initially planned to be viewed from outside seating on the wide front verandah. So high plants were planned along the footpath, followed by the midstorey and low plants near the seating.

That didn’t really work because I couldn’t bear to remove self-sown plants in the foreground.

I chose drought-tolerant plants, many of them local species. Trees provide height, shade and screening from the street. Various eucalypts, including Eucalyptus woodwardii from Western Australia, Pittosporum angustfolium and Callistemon rugulosus are all thriving.

Midstorey plants include a variety of eremophilas. Although there are only two local species of Eremophila, the genus flourishes here. The foliage comes in a range of colours and the grey Eremophila nivea adds light, complementing the greens of other shrubs. I prefer Correa sp. although they’re harder to grow. However Correa alba and C. reflexa varieties are now doing well. Various acacias as well as Dodonaea revoluta and Templetonia retusa are hardy additions to the garden.

Hedge – a feaature of Mediterranean garden design

Hedges and clipped plants are a feature of Mediterranean gardens, and it’s been interesting working with these styles in an informal garden. A hedge of Atriplex paludosa grew beautifully for ten years. But then it deteriorated and was removed this year. Re-planting with a border of strappy plants, Dianella revoluta and Lomandra longifolia, is the next task. Grevillea sp. respond well to clipping, making them bushy and encouraging abundant flowering while creating interesting features in the gardens.

Grasses, including Poa poiformis, Cymbopogon ambiguus and Austrostipa elegantissima add texture and movement. Their seeds spread and germinate easily so I usually ‘act like a wallaby’ and trim them back after a spell of flowering.

Pot culture for difficult plants

Our climate is ideal for the diverse plants of southern and central Western Australian but many of the ones I really wanted to grow cannot tolerate our alkaline soil.  A solution is to grow them in pots.

For example, it’s taken some time but Grevillea bipinnatifida and Acacia denticulosa both flowered in pots this year.  I wonder how long it will take to have them big enough to grow in large terracotta pots.

Outdoor living spaces

Another delightful aspect the Mediterranean climate is the ability to create outdoor living spaces surrounded by native plants.

Our shaded fernery is a favourite mealtime spot in summer.

Autumn and spring breakfasts are spent contemplating the front garden and watching the wattle birds and honeyeaters jostling for position. I do enjoy growing our Mediterranean garden in South Australia.

Search Tips

By default the search engine tries to locate pages which have exact matches for all of the words entered in your search query. If that fails, it then tries to locate pages which contain any words in your search query. If that happens a short message is displayed at the top of the search results indicating this has been done. In addition, there are several ways to modify the default search behavior.  Note, searches are case insensitive.

Phrase Search
The search engine supports three types of phrase search.

  • To match an exact phrase, use quotes around the phrase. Example: "banksia integrifolia"
  • To match a near (within a couple of words) phrase, use square brackets [around the words]. Example: [banksia integrifolia]
  • To match a far (within several words) phrase, use braces { around the words }. Example: {banksia integrifolia}

+ and - qualifiers
If you prepend a word with + that word is required to be on the page. If you prepend a word with - that word is required to not be on the page. Example: +always -never

* Wildcard
If a query word ends with a * all words on a page which start the same way as that query word will match. Example: gift*

? Wildcard
If a query word contains a ? any character will match that position. Example: b?g

Boolean Search
You can use the following boolean operators in your search: AND, OR, NOT. These operators MUST be in capital letters. Example: (contact AND us) OR (about AND us)

All of these techniques can be combined: +alway* -ne??r*

Billardiera heterophylla

View Plant Profile

Acacia longifolia

View Plant Profile

Acacia baileyana

View Plant Profile

Acacia podalyriifolia

View Plant Profile

Acacia pycnantha

View Plant Profile

Eucalyptus globulus

View Plant Profile

Leptospermum laevigatum

View Plant Profile

Melaleuca quinquenervia

View Plant Profile

Pittosporum undulatum

View Plant Profile

Schefflera actinophylla

View Plant Profile

Syzygium paniculatum (variegated form)

View Plant Profile


Chrysanthemoides monilifera
var. monilifera

Senecio madagascariensis

Opuntia stricta