There’s a fine line between planning the garden of your dreams and planting your feet firmly in the ground of reality. Gardens in Ibiza face a particular set of issues. Namely soil quality, lack of water and the extreme heat of summer. The key is to treat these issues not as obstacles, but as guiding principles. There are some technical aspects to good garden design such as the regulating line, the golden triangle, plant big-to-small and so on, however, we suggest you leave these details in the hands of our landscape designers and concentrate solely on the fun stuff: colour, texture and mass.
Everyone loves a lawn. There is nothing more delightful than looking out over a grand stretch of lush green grass. However, lawns need lots of high-quality loam soil with the exact balance of silt, sand and clay – but that is the least of the lawn’s problems. Those waves of soft green require an inordinate amount of water – a very precious commodity in Ibiza and indeed across the whole Med. But this doesn’t mean you can’t create the illusion of a lawn with the clever use of ground covers.
Ground covers abound in the Mediterranean floral pantheon and we are spoiled for choice here in Ibiza. A clipped meadow is an excellent lawn substitute and can be designed to withstand high traffic areas. The Phyla nodiflora is a gorgeous ornamental plant perfect for covering substantial swathes of ground. Its cute, curved leaves surround a tiny pink flower with a purple centre whose gentle colours match charmingly with the pinks of Thymus hirsutus or the bold blush or delicate white of the local rock rose.
The island is blessed with an abundance of aromatic herbs that grow wild in the forests and can be easily tamed for your garden too. Rosemary is the obvious choice but there are many strains to choose from, so ditch the standard bush you might use for a lamb roast and consider the other ways this hardy, fragrant plant can be utilised. Rosmarinus prostratus is cultivated to trail along the ground and can also be used to hang over stone walls or garden steps in a cascade of scented green. Majorca pink is a variation producing pale pink blossoms in spring and again in summer. Golden variegated rosemary sports leaves flecked with yellow while barbecue rosemary has been cultivated specifically for flavour and aroma – it’s best planted near the outdoor kitchen for easy access.
Sage also grows wild in Ibiza and as with rosemary, has a number of strains that can turn a corner of your garden into a soft, scented bed. Amethyst, Caradonna, Blue Hill and Wood sage develop vertical densely packed flower spikes in shades of purples while Snow Hill sage dusts white tones across the garden. Lavender is hugely popular in island gardens for its soft shades and perfume. The classic English lavender has dusty green leaves and pale purple flowers while varieties of Spanish lavender boast tufted crowns of intense violet. For those by the coast, sea lavender is resistant to salt, controls erosion and produces bright purple flowers all summer. A stone path lined with lavender hedges creates a delicious entrance to any space – it’s also said to help to keep flies at bay.
Ornamental grasses add movement and texture with tufts sitting at medium height balancing the space between ground cover, shrubs and trees. Feathertop grass looks exactly like it sounds with long strands of pale green topped with panicles of spikelets encased in a cloudlike mass of soft white bristles. Ginger Love is a similar grass but in deep magenta. Blue Whiskers and Elijah Blue both develop indigo shades while Little Miss, Platinum Beauty and Feather Falls do just as well in the ground as they do in containers.
There’s a profusion of flowers that thrive in Ibiza. If there’s shade available under a tree, consider the ombre pink petals of Daphne or the sharp, electric greens of euphorbia, commonly known as spurge. The reliable agapanthus marches happily across the island with its purple or white crowns. And, just for the name alone, an Ibiza garden needs to include Whirling Butterflies, a strain of bee blossom or gaura. These delicate white flowers dancing at the top of thin stems wheel and glide in the breeze like miniature kites. The small white flowers of myrtle are said to be the symbol and scent of Eden, so it comes as no surprise that this tough plant with dainty flowers flourishes in Ibiza.
The huge array of plants available in Ibiza allows for singular creativity when it comes to garden design. Mixing formal spaces with a little wildness pretty much sums up exactly what Ibiza is all about – what better place to play with the island’s personality but in your garden?