Mediterranean plants in UK

Fri, Apr 22, 2011

Climate Change, Plants, Kew Gardens

Kew Gardens planted The Mediterranean Garden in 2007 to educate and encourage gardeners to think about the wide range of drought loving plants that will survive our hotter summers. The plants are well established despite the record summer rainfall of 2007/2008 and are simply loving the mercury busting temperatures so far in 20011

The native wild plants of the Mediterranean thrive in dry conditions .The garden at Kew is planted with ancient cork oaks in red soil, a grove of gnarled centenarian olive trees, rescued from a road-widening scheme somewhere in Italy , scented Stone Pines, elegant Italian Cypress, lavender, sage and rosemary to create an authentic mediterranean landscape. For more Mediterranean plants visit

A question comes to mind – if our summers are going to be hotter but our winters also wetter what is the point of planting drought-tolerant plants if everything is going to be drowned by more monsoon style weather?

Historically, lots of things that are now grown in the Med originated in seaside climates such as in New Zealand and South Africa – so they actually appreciate a bit of a soak. Tresco in the Scillies, is a fine example of this where Agapanthus grow wild in the lanes, revelling in 30 inches of rain a year. Bird of Paradise plants, too, need lots of water in their growing season, as do Bougainvillea and Plumbago, which are accustomed to Caribbean downpours.

When I was standing by the olive trees at Kew recently, it began to rain heavily, and I wondered whether rain is foreign to these sun-loving plants. According to Mort Rosenblum a New Yorker who wrote Olives, the Life and Lore of a Noble Fruit (Absolute, £7.99), heavy winter rain is the reason that Italian and French olive groves are so heavily terraced.

What about lavender – for me, this plant typifies a mediterranean scene from the South of France. Predictions are that as temperatures rise in the area around the Med, many regional plants will simply not tolerate the intense heat and will begin to thrive further north. Maybe this is happening already?

Take a dip into Hugo Latymer’s The Mediterranean Gardener This is a useful site about growing lavender in the UK :

The Mediterranean Garden Society has more information and advice about selecting and growing mediterranean plants – in particular, an excellent definition of what defines a mediterranean climate :


This post was written by:

- who has written 872 posts on My Climate Change Garden.

I am not an experienced gardener - more of an enthusiastic amateur who learns by trial and error and who is keen to "manage" the effects of shifting weather patterns on my garden. Writing this blog is my passion and it has evolved over 12 years to inspire engagement with climate change outside our back doors, in our personal gardens and green spaces. My mission is to fertilise and expand this platform to grow a community of global gardeners communicating about the effects of climate change on our plants and exploring how each individual can make small changes in our lives to become more sustainable. The future of our gardens and #OurPlanet is in our hands - please plant your own seeds for our collective sustainable future.

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