Our front balcony gets a lot of sun. When we first moved my veggies ended up out there, and within a week they had all died. With that in mind, I don’t have much out there right now, just some succulents, and an Oleander and what I call a “fruitsalad tree” that we inherited with the house.
I was thinking it could be a great place to have mediterranean plants – there is a trellice I was thinking we could train olives over, and we could put the lemon tree out there, and rosemary, and other Mediterranean style plants. But that got me thinking – what other Mediterranean plants are there that could survive on our hot balcony?
- Pomegranate Punica granatum
One of the earliest used Mediterranean plants, the deciduous Pomegranate is an excellent small tree for the garden. It has attractive orange-yellow flowers in summer, yellow autumn foliage in autumn, bronze new growth in spring and pulpy red and orange fruits.
Olive Olea europaea subsp. europaeaNo Mediterranean Garden would be complete without an Olive tree. Slow, but long-lasting, Olives form a small open, multitrunked tree. Needing good drainage and full sun there are many different varieties available. Seedless varieties, such as ‘Swan Hill’ or ‘Tolleys upright’ should be used in areas where Olives are an environmental weed.
- Drosanthemum candens
I grow the plant on the photo at a position with full sun usually next to another plant which I water in the summer so the roots don’t dry out completely in the summer heat. During this time the plant doesn’t look very attractive but after the winter rain and when the sun starts to gain in strength around April/May a mass of beautiful flowers appear and the show will last for a couple of weeks ; thereafter the plant goes into summer hibernation and is still useful as a sort of ground cover.
- Salvia microphylla, syn S. grahamii (Photograph by Fleur Pavlidis)
Evergreen, small to medium-sized shrub from Arizona and Mexico.
This dense but sprawling shrub nicely fills in gaps in a jungly garden. It seems to flower all the year round – a few bright red or purple flowers, depending on the variety, at the tips of the stems – although in the true flowering season of late summer and autumn it is quite showy. The leaves have a sharp scent. It grows well in both dry heat with a weekly watering and winter frost and snow and has never shown signs of distress. Every couple of years the dead undergrowth has to be cleared out. It will also tolerate shade.
Curry Plant Helichrysum italicumThe Curry Plant is named for its pungent-smelling foliage, particularly during a hot day in summer. It forms a small shrub, 50 cm in height, with silver narrow leaves. Useful as a low clipped hedge it can also be left to grow in a natural rounded form.
Globe Artichoke Cynara scolymusWith its large, silver leaves and wonderful statuesque form, the Globe Artichoke deserves a place for these features alone. A perennial with a number of different varieties, the greenpurple edible flower buds can be harvested over late spring and summer.
Common Thyme Thymus vulgarisThe Common Thyme forms a sprawling, woody sub-shrub of wiry stems, rarely growing more than 20 cm in height. Best grown in a full sun location there are many different forms of this excellent kitchen herb.
Pine Geranium Pelargonium denticulatumThis is a sprawling sub-shrub that grows up to 50cm in height. It has strongly-scented ‘fern-like’ leaves and mauve flowers that form over spring and summer. A useful low-growing plant for its texture, form and flowers.
Campsis Campsis grandifloraA deciduous woody climber from south-eastern China, this plant is tolerant of low water conditions once established. It produces masses of orange-red trumpets of flowers over summer and is tolerant of a range of soil and climatic conditions. It needs a strong pergola to support its vigour and growth.
I think even for some of these I’ll need to put up a shadecloth to keep them hidden – the balcony faces west, and although most of the time the sun is filtered through the eucalypts, it still scortches the plants – we almost killed our bay tree by leaving it out there for a week…
And some flickr inspiration:
(The last three images are from a great photo set)