The Mediterranean comes to Surrey

It’s been four years since the redevelopment of our Mediterranean garden at Wisley, and it’s really come into its own

The Mediterranean terraces in flowerThe Mediterranean plants have thrived in the hot spring weather this year and are throwing out flowers in abundance. Mediterranean flowers are often subtle but when the plants are grouped together they create a really unique and beautiful effect. Added to which the whole area emits a wonderful ‘Mediterranean’ scent, a mixture of all those aromatic oils from the rosemary, lavender, cistus, salvia, eucalyptus and much more. Some of the volunteers who work with me say that working on the terraces reminds them of being on holiday - (apart from the weeding).

May and June are peak months for the Mediterranean plants; most noticeably the Cistus with their crumpled silk flowers, which only last a day (and can be quite hard to photograph in the afternoon.) Also in full swing is Salvia candelabrum, a Spanish Salvia that is aptly named for its slender 1m (40in) tall, purple flower spikes. The Oenothera versicolor in the California section have just started flowering, with their lovely crowns of burnt orange blooms.

Callistemon viminalis 'Hot Pink'And in the Australia/New Zealand section, the Callistemon viminalis ‘Hot Pink’ (Bottlebrush) combine with Grevillea rosmarinifolia, Parahebe perfoliata, Leptospermum (tea tree) and Olearia, to create a carpet of pink, red, purple and white. However, I think my real favourite at the moment is Pittosporum tobira, which has the most amazing fragrant flowers – the sort you can smell a mile away. Although Chinese and Japanese in origin, this slow-growing evergreen shrub is drought-tolerant and widely planted in the Mediterranean.

Newly planted Cypress treesThe Mediterranean garden is always evolving. In November last year, we planted 60 cypress trees on either side of the lawn leading to the trials field steps. A few weeks ago we added four large standard grape vines, which will eventually surround a seating area. All of this will be underplanted with Mediterranean ground-cover plants including lavender, rosemary and Cistus. It’s an exciting new phase for this part of Battleston Hill so watch this space.

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