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Creating a thriving Mediterranean garden

By Chris Lewis, Kojonup, WA

I am creating a thriving Mediterranean garden in Western Australia. The key is to garden with nature.

Living in a Mediterranean climate

I live and garden in Kojonup, Western Australia, which is 256 kilometres south-east of Perth.

Mediterranean climate tolerant shrubs and groundcovers

We have an average rainfall of 500mm per year, that occurs normally in the winter months.

No rain or very little falls during the summer months. This is a typical Mediterranean climate. My garden receives no or very little extra water during the summer months.

Species shown: Acacia denticulosa, Grevillea intricata, Conostylis candicans, Chorizema cordatum, Dampiera

And I have long since given up trying to grow the Tasmanian alpine plants brought from “big green shed”.

My tips for a Mediterranean garden

I do most of my own propagating and concentrate on local species. Some only live a few years in my garden even though they grow for decades a few kilometres away in the bush.

I find mulching my garden soil very important for the summer survival.

drought tolerant plant

Ptilotus obovatus, sometimes known as Pussytails

Over-planting limits the amount of moisture available to each plant. It is hard to resist just adding another plant to an already crowded garden.

Large shrubs and trees while giving shade also use the available moisture.

The beautiful sand loving banksias only grow in the sand pad put down for the house as they don’t like the heavy loam of the rest of the garden.

Plants that thrive

My most successful group of plants come from areas that are dryer than Kojonup. These include Hakea, Eremophila, Chamelaucium and Melaleuca, along with members of the Pea family. This way, my garden thrives best in the challenging Mediterranean climate.

Mediterranean style shrubs
A beautiful mosaic of Hakea multilineata (back), red Grevillea thelemanniana, pink Thryptomene saxicola

As water becomes a scarcer commodity, I think we will be choosing plants from the thousands of wonderful species that grow further inland in the dryer climates of Australia.

We must ‘garden with nature’. This means working with our climate, our soil, our rainfall, the available water, temperature and humidity.