Facebook LinkedIn Email Pinterest Twitter Instagram YouTube Icon Navigation Search Icon Main Search Icon Video Play Icon Audio Play Icon Headphones Icon Plus Icon Minus Icon Check Icon Print Icon Note Icon Heart Icon Filled Heart Icon Single Arrow Icon Double Arrow Icon Hamburger Icon TV Icon Close Icon Sorted Hamburger/Search Icon
Garden Photo of the Day

A Dry Mediterranean Garden


Catriona McLean was inspired by Bela's Croatian garden, and is sharing her garden in the South of France! 

"I have been subscribing to Fine gardening for some time and when I saw your photos of the Croatian garden on the other side of the Mediterranean I thought I should share some photos of my garden here in the South of France. My husband and I moved from Scotland to the Hérault valley near Montpellier about 12 years ago, leaving behind a beautiful walled garden which was featured several times in the English gardening magazines; Now we have a totally dry Mediterranean garden, semi wild and care free but with structure of fruit trees and lavender and phlomis and key garrigue plants and shrubs which we have created from 3000sq metres of vinyard land – very poor soil, very alkaline 8.6PH, with long hot summers and the occasional storm, followed by damp mild winters with intermittent rain – never very cold but can go to about -6 to -10°C if a cold winter. True Mediterranean climate like California.  

We now water rarely the established planting, but do water by hand the newly planted trees,shrubs and perrenials until they find their root systems have delved down to find enough humidity in the ground to survive the hot summer months. A very different kind of gardening to that which we did in Scotland. all the plants are Mediterranean sourced from local specialist nurseries and I propagate much from seed and cuttings. Other plants include those that can survive the alkaline soil and drought – certain tough roses, irises, grasses and even acquilegias. Many plants disappear in the summer but re appear after the first heavy rains in August and September.All planting goes dormant and shuts down when the temperatures reach into the 30°C's which is quite normal but still remain very beautiful; only to re-start in the autumn with much flowering right up to Christmas."






Have a garden you'd like to share? Please email your photos (and stories) to GPOD@taunton.com! Whether you've never shared before or you've been featured multiple times, we want to see your garden! You don't have to be a professional garden photographer – check out our garden photography tips!

Do you receive the GPOD by email yet? Sign up here!

Follow us on Instagram and Facebook!

View Comments


  1. user-4691082 10/20/2015

    Catriona, it is wild and free, yet organized and well planned. I agree with Diane about feeling those grasses swaying in the wind! What is a garrigue plant? I know it is not a specific plant but it is fun to learn new phrases.

  2. User avater
    meander1 (Michaele ) 10/20/2015

    Catriona, yours is a fascinating garden and I'll bet your admission that what you are doing now is a" very different kind of gardening to that which we did in Scotland" is an understatement! It looks like you have mastered and embraced your climate and soil conditions and created a place of enviable serenity. I enjoyed seeing what looked familiar like the repetitions of what I call Mexican Feather grass and, of course, your handsome clump of stately bearded iris.

  3. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 10/20/2015

    Catriona, this is so beautiful, impressive and inspiring. How wonderful that you have risen to the challenge of your new climate to create this oasis of beauty. It is wonderful to be exposed to gardens in all sorts of climate and all over the world. I remember the first time I read Beth Chatto's book on her gravel garden and really began to see that a beautiful garden can be made anywhere with hard work, a vision, and most importantly the right plants! Congratulations and thanks for sending in photos.

  4. User avater
    gringopeligroso 10/20/2015

    Garden in an Orchard??!!! WOW!! And very, very nice!! I'm envious of your trees as they have so much character! Love the grasses and like the others here, can easily picture them waving in the breezes! And, with y'all's selections, the fragrances on said breezes must also be inviting and relaxing through the seasons! I expecially love the heirloom Iris varieties you've used! I search and rescue these older survivors from earlier era gardens from the abandoned farms here and find places for them in my present day creation! There's just something about the simple stubborn grace of these older "flags" which transcend and span the generations of gardeners! (However, I have plenty of the newer, more dramatic varieties, too, and will repeat the mantra of the many of this post:
    "Always room for ONE more!")
    Love the display of the Phlomis!! While it was hardy in my older Texas garden, it can only be grown as a container specimen this far North and so can't reach the stature and show it has in your garden......sigh........ My favourite picture is your view of June! The Poppies and Yarrow and grasses and wattle fence just keep drawing me into the warm and inviting scene!! And, those trees in that scene!! Did I mention them earlier??!!! ;-)

  5. GrannyMay 10/20/2015

    What a wonderful example of what can be done when you know what will suit your climate and your soil! Catriona, thank you for sharing your beautiful garden. I love its semi-wild look! I hope that you will send photos from the other months as well.

    Your garden was especially inspiring to those of us whose climate is becoming more dry and whose watering options are decreasing. I looked up garrigue plants and found this great source of information - http://www.cbrava.com/en/magazine/a-botanical-walk-through-the-maquis-and-garrigue/ Now I understand that we already have a lot of garrigue plants that are our natives and others we can add.

  6. User avater
    HelloFromMD 10/20/2015

    Spectacular hillside garden. Full of color and movement. You are a very gifted gardener to create such a beautiful garden that belongs to the Mediterranean location after such a different set of demands in Scotland. What a challenge to garden with such an alkaline soil! You are so resourceful in acquiring suitable plants. Please share again. Beautiful work.

  7. NevadaSue 10/20/2015

    Catriona, I'm so glad you shared these photos. You have done a wonderful job of creating a beautiful and nurturing space in a very challenging area. The Mexican Feather grass is wonderful. The splashes of red add so much color, just beautiful. I see several things that I'm going to try in my garden here in Nevada USA where there is a high ph in the soil as well. I really like the 4th picture down with the grasses and yellow and red colors. Keep sharing.

  8. catrionamclean 10/20/2015

    Dear everyone who has commented so far on our garden.so much appreciate I can tell you after all the hard work over the years! I am sitting here now at the end of the autumnal day and the colours continue to change.I will reply in more detail to questions soon.I will send in some more photos for sure but take a look at www.catrionamclean.com and the Jardin des Rossignols for more information about the garden and plant lists which is on going...Catriona

  9. BoxwoodBarbara 10/20/2015

    Catriona, this is a garden straight out of a romance novel (as is your name)! I can see you with wide-brimmed sunhat and billowing skirts against that dramatic sky, and smell the lavender, with all the other heady scents. Please favor us with more views as the landscape changes.

  10. rospin 10/20/2015

    Your garden is very pretty. Congratulations!!!

  11. Yeddi 10/20/2015

    I could happily wade through all those waving grasses and scented flowers under the trees. You have created a beautiful place. Great that you took the time to share with us, especially as autumn approaches. More fodder for all of we dreamers. Thank you.

  12. Cenepk10 10/21/2015

    Gorgeous!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Loved seeing your garden. Waiting for more months, please !!!!!

Log in or create an account to post a comment.

Related Articles

The Latest

Magazine Cover

Take your passion for plants to the next level

Subscribe today and save up to 37%

"As a recently identified gardening nut I have tried all the magazines and this one is head and shoulders above the pack."


View All