Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Creating a Mediterranean haven

Quite often I find my writing is inspired by places I've visited, especially the South of France, Spain, Italy and Greece. I love being transported to sunnier climes where you can almost smell the lavender as a gentle breeze wafts by.  So, I had the best of intentions to model my garden on a Mediterranean theme  when we first bought the property ahem ten years ago but needless to say, money, time and a few wet summers soon put paid to that idea and as I looked out of my kitchen window, instead of a calming oasis, all I could see was a dumping ground for years' worth of unwanted materials from our constant DIY. Not a very inspiring sight, nor one that you would choose to relax in. So, this summer, I resolved that I would devote a little time each day to remodelling my patio.

Step One
The first step, as with any makeover, was to clear the rubbish so that I could see the space I had to work with. It took two trips to the tip and twelve bin bags but I had a vision of how my patio could look with a bit of TLC. Hard to believe that this could be a beautiful space, eh?

 Step Two

The walls had been painted white but were starting to look a bit dingy so a complete repaint job was necesssary. Hard work but I'm sure it will be worth it when the sun comes out and reflects off the walls, making my garden at last reminiscent of Greece or Spain.

Step Three

Once I could see the space, it was a question of deciding how it should be used. Was it to be a cosy place to sit in, somewhere to eat for just the family or an entertaining space? Realising that it wasn't big enough to seat more than four people focused my attention on choosing a light-weight table that would seat four but could be moved if necessary so that the area could also be used for sunbathing.

This set is lightweight and comes with four chairs and a black parasol

Step Four

I wanted somewhere that would delight the senses, so next came the important step of choosing the plants. No Mediterranean garden would be complete without lavender so that featured heavily on my list. I also wanted to add a contemporary twist to an otherwise traditional patio so opted for some palms. These reminded me of Nice and add a tropical feel to the mix. A few geraniums were also a must-have to take me back to my time spent in Greece. I chose a variety of pots to display them in; large and small, round and square but to give some harmony and cohesion, I stuck with a palette of grey, silver and of course Mediterranean blue. It was all starting to come together but there was still a lot of work to be done.

A Greek style urn fulled with hardy fuchsias

Step Five

After days spent weeding the pathway, painting the house and clearing the rubbish there was one thing missing from this little scenario and that was a water feature. I just wanted something simple that would trickle pleasantly as I read a book.  A solar-powered cascading fountain seemed just the job and naturally I chose the Mediterranean blue version.

Although quite small, this fountain adds a lovely touch

Step Six

The opposite wall to the patio was also looking bare and neglected so I found the perfect arched mirror with shutters that looks like a window. It certainly adds a focal point to the wall and is far more pleasant to look at than old trellis. A new cushion for my garden bench, in carefully chosen beige and blues to echo the beach and pebbles, added the finishing touch to the decor on that side. So, for less than the cost of a holiday abroad for one, the whole family can now enjoy this peaceful haven and I have a lovely spot in which to write my next book. Keep your fingers crossed that we have a long, hot summer! It's not quite the same as going abroad but it's the next best thing.

Window mirror painted the same colour as the door

I love the 'pop' of red from the geraniums





So, this is my little bit of the Med in a very English country garden. What inspires you? - do let me know.

Top Tips

A glass topped table makes the space look bigger!

Foldaway chairs enable the space to be used in different ways.

Plants grouped in odd numbers look better than those grouped in even numbers.

Plants of various heights yet similar colours work well with a strong accent colour used sparingly.

6 piece garden set - table, 4 chairs, umbrella - Aldi
Palm and torbay palms -
Garden mirror/window -
Bench cushion and cascading fountain