Mediterranean Garden Society

Alternatives to Lawns

The photograph at the top of this page shows Ismelia carinata syn Chrysanthemum carinatum growing wild in Rhodes, and inspiration for an alternative to the traditional lawn (Photo Alisdair Aird)

Here is a talk by Olivier Filippi, “Lawn Alternatives in Mediterranean Gardens”, which he gave to our AGM in Athens. Then follows highlights of an article by Jennifer Gay about the use of Lawn Alternatives in our garden at Sparoza.

Lawn Alternatives

by Jennifer Gay 
photographs by Jennifer Gay 

For the full article see The Mediterranean Garden No 43, January 2006.

"The most natural option to consider is the meadow: during the winter you will have a sward of infinite variety, followed by a wonderful spring and early summer meadow... just like Sparoza's 'threshing floor', where for several years Sally Razelou has successfully managed what was once an irrigated circular lawn in this way."

The circular 'threshing floor' at Sparoza is a green sward in early winter, a flower meadow in spring (pictured) and a mat of dried leaves in the height of summer.

An area of 'savannah' in the garden at Sparoza, managed as a wild flower meadow.

"Groundcovers provide ideal, low-maintenance foliage-carpeting in areas not subject to heavy wear and tear. ...strategically placed stepping stones allow access."

Bugle, Ajuga spp, forms a low-growing mat in the shade which spreads by runners.
The spring flowers are a glowing blue.

The well-known periwinkle or Vinca major will both spread and flower in semi-shade.
It can become invasive if invasive if conditions are too comfortable.

Hottentot Fig or Carpobrotus edulis; a groundcover for full sun which can be found in many shades.
Good for seaside gardens.

"Alternatively, consider bushier plants if the mat-forming characteristic is not a priority. Many low shrubs and sub-shrubs are suitable..."

African Daisy, Osteospermum fruticosum, spreads by rooting shoots and self-seeding.
It can flower all year round if the weather is mild, but is cut back by sharp frosts.

The self-seeding annual Honeywort or Cerinthe retorta, forms a winter/spring groundcover.
The lower the fertility of the soil the shorter it will grow.

The shrubby Lantana camara pictured can be mass planted to create a tall, summer-flowering groundcover,whereas Lantana montevidensis is a low-growing trailer.
Both flower better in the sun but will tolerate shade.

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