How to get a Mediterranean garden even in tropical Malaysia
Soft pastel hues, neatly trimmed hedges, large terracotta pots filled with olive trees, palm trees, and patios just right for alfresco dining, are all common features of a Mediterranean garden. However, gardens that combine Grecian, Italian, French and North African influences are mostly found in dry climates with cold winters. This does not mean that Malaysia, with its warm and wet tropical climate, is not suitable for this style of garden. It is possible to create a Mediterranean garden in Malaysia, however, you should select the right plants for the climate, adding some of the basic elements for which the Mediterranean style of garden is known.
What hard landscaping elements will work well in a Mediterranean style garden?
Using pebbles and tiles to create paved areas
The Mediterranean garden is more than just a garden; it is a space in which to relax, and to entertain guests. Paved areas of cobbles and pebbles with intricate mosaic designs not only provide space to place outdoor furniture, they hark back to ancient times in eastern Mediterranean areas. You are not limited to pebbles: tiles may also be deployed. Paved areas or gravel floors will help you to reduce the maintenance of the garden. If you have steps, using bright Moorish tiles on the climbers can add some colour and pattern to what would otherwise be a dull surface.
Adding a focus point
A water feature can act as relief from the hot and dry summers around the Mediterranean. However, in Malaysia and its humid climate this is attractive, and can add some delight to the garden. Water features in the garden will attract butterflies, birds, and bees.
Your pool is also a natural water feature. In the humid months, it can provide great relief for young and old. Your pool should be correctly installed by a highly recommended professional.
Besides adding interest with water details, you can also use pots to give your garden that typical Mediterranean feel. Large terracotta pots give an authentic look. Do make sure that you fill them, allowing adequate drainage, so that the heavy rains do not cause the plants in these pots to become waterlogged. You can plant cactus and aloes in smaller pots.
Adding some shaded areas
Once you have decided on the paving, and have a focal point in mind, you might want to add some shade. In the Mediterranean, with its hot summers, shade is paramount. In Malaysia’s humid climate, a pergola over a patio might not provide you with relief from the humidity. It will nonetheless minimise the sunlight entering. A pergola will also provide you with the opportunity of adding a creeper to climb over, giving some vertical interest and colour.
Add some raised beds in the garden
Not only are raised beds a characteristic element of Mediterranean gardens, they are a practical application for a garden in Malaysia. Raised beds can allow for good drainage in which you may plant exotic plants more suitable for drier climates, like lavender, rosemary, and other herbs that like a well-drained soil.
These raised beds near your patio areas can act as additional seating, or simply as an informal spot in which to perch while having a drink with your guests.
Don’t forget to illuminate your garden
From solar-powered lights to normal garden lights you can transform your garden during the evening, for use when the weather is pleasant. Don’t use lights only on pathways and where your patio is situated. Lights are good for highlighting feature plants like palms, and to light up your pool.
Do make use of a professional, such as a qualified electrician, to install your garden lights. If you opt for solar lights, however, you can simply place these in suitable areas.
Which plants will work well in a Mediterranean garden?
This will depend on your soil, the amount of sunlight they will be receiving, and whether a more traditional or a modern Mediterranean garden is preferred. Naturally, plants like palms will work well, so too plants that have grey foliage. However, you aren’t limited to selecting only exotic plants. Indigenous plants will add colour and interest to your garden. Javanica, for instance, will provide year-long colour, as will any of Malaysia’s over 800 species of orchid. Other plants that will work well in Malaysia’s climate are the hibiscus rosa-sinensis, fuchsias, and, for a bit of shade, trees such as Asparagus Falcatus, or the Red Sandalwood tree.