Just imagine the crisp air of the Mediterranean blowing through a field of sunflowers, nodding in the breeze, and carrying the scent of the sea right up to your garden path. Well, Gainesville may not be close enough to the sea for a coastal breeze, and sunflowers may not be a practical long-term landscaping option, but that doesn’t mean you can’t fulfill your dreams of southern France here in Gainesville. Swap in local-compatible plants and enjoy a taste of classic romance in your own yard, taking this home and garden in Northwest Gainesville as an example. A splashing fountain, winding stone pathways and fragrant herbal textures all lend to a Mediterranean vibe.
Italian cypress, agaves and sweet almond shrubs have been all chosen for their striking silhouettes, and they frame the finer textures chosen for bedding material. The height of these bedding plants was intentionally kept low to induce the feeling of a sun-drenched meadow. In contrast, the tall, golden blooms of black-eyed susans really pop in the slightly cooler fall weather and make a good substitute for sunflowers. Their bright flowers are perennial and attract butterflies in almost every season.
This Gainesville landscape was originally installed during the fall season. There’s no reason to wait until spring to plant, because Florida never suffers permafrost. We are just beginning to get into one of the best planting times of the year. The cooler weather now gives each plant time to develop a deep root system and makes getting out into the garden fun again.
Achieve the Look Without the Hassle
Mediterranean Done the Florida Way
- Maybe you can’t have a garden full of tulips in North Central Florida, but you can still plant tulip gingers. These bright purple flowers mimic the colors and shape of tulips, but are also perfectly at home in a tropical climate.
- When designing your dream landscape, it’s important to keep local wisdom in mind. A global look can be achieved in the local environment, so long as you are open to flexibility.
- In the Mediterranean-inspired home pictured here, Cottage Gardens substituted caryopteris shrubs and perennial peanuts, which bloom all summer, for less adaptable Mediterranean plants. These shrubs flourish around the fountain and add a natural touch to the stone garden, which channels the rocky outcroppings of southern Italy and Spain.
- Plant salvia amistad in place of herbs like thyme or lavender. This hybrid sage from Argentina has huge violet flowers that attract hummingbirds to your garden.
- In exchange for sunflower fields, rudbeckia ‘Autumn Sun’ was used to achieve the same look. With a little bit of creativity and the willingness to work with your design, the climate doesn’t have to hold you back.
Cottage Gardens Inc
Not Your Typical Landscape
Jon George is the owner of Cottage Gardens, Inc., a Gainesville-based landscape design and installation firm. Jon has been gardening in North Central Florida for more than 30 years. You may contact his staff at www.TheCottageGardener.com or at [email protected].