Mediterranean Garden Society
The photos at the top of this page have been taken from videos that featured the MGS
February 2024 - Lucie Willan, Head Gardener, MGS Sparoza, Greece
Travels Through Greece: Garden of the Gods
Lucie Willan is currently head gardener at Sparoza the headquarters of the Mediterranean Garden Society. In her spare time Lucie likes nothing more than exploring mountains to hunt for plants in their natural habitats. Greece is 80% mountainous and there are over 4,000 named mountains in Greece so in order to narrow the remit of the talk Lucie discusses plant hunting in places connected to Greek myths and the inspiration these wild places can have for gardeners and garden making.
January 2024 - Michael McCoy, Garden Designer, Writer, Broadcaster, Australia
Mediterranean Gardening Dilemmas
Aside from his work as a garden designer, Michael is a writer, broadcaster, international garden tour guide and host of Australian ABC TV’s Dream Gardens. Michael gardens in Woodend, Victoria, Australia, where summers are usually hot and dry, but relatively productive and imperfectly drained soils make classic Mediterranean gardening challenging. Michael insists the garden must display extravagant seasonal change yet has to survive - preferably thrive - on the natural rainfall.
December 2023 - Nicholas Staddon, Company Spokesperson and Plantsman, Everde Growers
An insider view from the horticultural industry of America: practices, trends and challenges
Nicholas Staddon is a passionate plant lover and has spent nearly three decades in the US horticulture industry and gives us an inside view of the nursery sector. He talk to us about Everde’s operations, its new plant introduction program and some of the breeders it works with around the world. He discusses current plant trends and cultural shifts in America. He talks about some of the planting restrictions and water issues California is facing and the University of California Landscape Irrigation Trials. He also suggests some good plant choices for low water gardening areas.
November 2023 - Lucinda Willan, Head Gardener, Sparoza
The year in the garden 2022-23
A talk to the MGS AGM in Athens recounting the challenges and triumphs during the gardening year.
November 2023 - Cassian Schmidt, Director of Hermannshof Garden, Germany
Meadow inspirations from nature: designing resilient combinations of grasses, perennials and bulbs for dry habitats
With particular focus on developing habitat-based low maintenance perennial planting mixes based on ecological strategies. Cassian talks to us about the garden’s dynamic mix of unique perennials and naturalistic grasses arranged by habitat and origin which create an all-season kaleidoscope that is inspired by nature. He demonstrates how North American prairie and Eurasian dry grassland vegetation, as well as Mediterranean garrigue, can achieve climate resilient plantings.
October 2023 - Jennifer Gay, Landscape Architect, Gardener, Writer, Greece
Designing Successful Gardens for a Mediterranean Climate
Jennifer has been gardening and creating gardens in the Mediterranean for 25 years. Natural Mediterranean landscapes have always been the basis for her inspiration, and habitat creation /enriching biodiversity are central to her multi-layered plantings. She discusses various projects in contrasting areas of Greece, her approach to creating landscapes that are climate appropriate, and increasingly moving towards low input gardening for more sustainable gardens.
May 2023 - Thomas Doxiadis, Principal Architect, doxiadis+, Athens
Ellinikon Development, the largest coastal park in Europe
The Experience Park is the first built segment of the Ellinikon project, the largest Urban Regeneration project in Europe. The project highlights Reduce-Reuse-Recycle principle through preservation and reinterpretation. The notion of Symbiosis is to satisfy the needs of humans and nature for both to live in equilibrium. It offers a new paradigm of public spaces which represents Sustainability. The past of the site is celebrated, preserved and reintroduced through the lens of a new identity.
May 2023 - Peter Korn, Plantsman and Garden Designer, Klinta Trädgård, Sweden
“Wildly-inspired, Climate-tough, High Diversity Plantings”
Peter discusses how we can plant for the future by creating sand beds: by using poor soil or sand it is possible to create very low maintenance, irrigation-free plantings that will thrive in a warmer and drier future. He illustrates his talk with a wide range of international projects from city parks to gardens, roundabouts, meadows and school yards, from insect habitats, to rain gardens, green walls and roof gardens for cities with limited space. He also discusses the benefits of growing your own plants and the trial beds at Klinta Trädgård near Malmö.
April 2023 - Gerald Luckhurst, Landscape Architect and Horticulturist, Portugal
“The Three Sintra Gardens of Monserrate, Regaleira and Queluz”
Gerald writes: “These historic gardens were the reason that I first came to Portugal. Sintra is more Atlantic than Mediterranean, but it is experiencing climate change. Adapting the gardens without altering their historic character, has been part of the challenge. All of them were "Sleeping Beauties", almost lost after decades of benign neglect. Work involved literally unearthing their hidden glories from beneath piles of leaf mould, forests of invasive trees, and well-intentioned, but totally inappropriate "new" plantings. But equally historic gardens require a great deal of time spent in dark and dusty archives, gloomy libraries, and revisiting the lives of long dead gardeners, architects and visionary owners that created them.”
March 2023 - Leon Kluge, Plantsman and International Garden Designer, South Africa
“Designing and Nurturing the Gardens of Sterrekopje Farm in Franschhoek, South Africa.”
Leon Kluge is known for his modern, contemporary landscapes and sustainable community projects. His company Leon Kluge Landscape Design is based in South Africa. For three years, Leon has been creating 10 hectares of wild and free-spirited gardens at Sterrekopje Farm. The gardens are designed to nurture wellbeing and spiritual healing in the clients visiting the farm - an exclusive retreat set in the heart of the Franschhoek Valley in the winelands of the Cape in South Africa. He shares this garden’s journey with us, discussing the site, climate, soil, design, plant choices, installation, and maintenance.
February 2023 - Caroline Bourdillon, Responsable Technique, Spécialité Espaces Verts, Capitoul Estate, France
“Dry Gardening at Château Capitoul, Gains and Goals”
The 80-hectare estate is in the Massif de la Clape, near Narbonne, which is one of the driest regions of France. Its owner Karl O'Hanlon had the vision of creating a wine tourism estate which was “a distilled expression of the surrounding environment of garrigue and vines”. This giant dry garden features plants specifically adapted to the dry, rocky landscape, capable of prospering without fertilisers or herbicides or even water. Olivier Filippi produced the plants. James Basson designed the landscaping. Caroline Bourdillon came in as manager in 2020 just as planting was about to start. Caroline, who is responsible for day-to-day management, discusses how the project has evolved two years on. What needs to be improved? How do you manage a dry garden on this scale?
January 2023 - Yvonne Barton, MGS Member and Gardener, Umbria, Italy
“Whatever happened to winter? How a gardener in central Italy is trying to cope with changing weather patterns.”
In mediterranean regions we rely on winter to bring rain to refresh the earth and cold to keep pests at bay - a time for regeneration. But in the last years in southern Europe we have seen very different weather patterns. Yvonne discusses what has changed. Does it matter? Is this the future? And how should we gardeners cope? Can we, by doing our best to minimise water needs and the use of pesticides and fertilisers, reduce these environmental impacts to survive and flourish? She also shares with us the plants that are in bloom at the moment in her garden.
December 2022 - Peter Amman
Giardino di Hera: an irrigation-free gardening adventure in southern Italy
The renovation of an abandoned olive grove in the Cilento National Park, with a focus on plant species strictly from mediterranean climates and using a landscape-wise approach to gardening incorporating the natural macchia, woodland and meadows. Peter gave an illustrated talk about this gardening journey: the successes, the failures, the challenges, the surprises, and the outlook for the future in a changing climate.
November 2022 - Dan Pearson, Landscape Designer, Horticulturist, Writer and Gardener, UK
Recreating The Delos Garden at Sissinghurst
Dan Pearson is a Garden Advisor to the National Trust at Sissinghurst. In 2018 Head Gardener Troy Scott-Smith asked Dan if he could provide more concrete help in re-imagining Delos. This area of the garden had originally been envisaged by Harold Nicolson and Vita Sackville-West as an homage to the Greek island of that name which they had fallen in love with while on holiday in 1935. However, due to the garden’s north-facing aspect and heavy Wealden clay soil it had rapidly become a shady woodland garden quite at odds with the couple’s sun-baked vision. In this talk Dan explains the process of reimagining this garden for contemporary visitors, the challenges involved and the success it has had since it was completed.
October 2022 - Louisa Jones, MGS Member and Writer, France
Mediterranean gardening offers a way of living in harmony with the earth without contrived effects or heavy spending. Born of long human experience on the land, it is frugal and fruitful, serves many purposes and gives many pleasures, year-round. In her talk, Louisa Jones explores garden “wilding” in general and in particular in Mediterranean regions.
September 2022 - Tom Stuart-Smith, Landscape Architect, Tom Stuart-Smith, UK
Gardening in the sand
Tom Stuart-Smith has used different amounts of sand and grit as a growing medium for a wider range of Mediterranean plants. He discusses projects at RHS Bridgewater, in Mallorca, at Knepp Castle and at his home in Hertfordshire – all of which use different amounts of sand. Also, by comparison, his work at Le Jardin Secret in Marrakech where no sand was used.
June 2022 - Jem Hanbury, Garden Designer, Jem Hanbury Studio, Perth, Australia
Mediterranean Gardening in Western Australia
Jem Hanbury gives an overview of the Southwest of Australia, a renowned biodiversity hotspot with over 25,000 endemic plant species, most of which are found nowhere else. His focus is on the challenges facing sustainable gardening in the region and his approach to designing climatically appropriate landscapes in this Mediterranean climate.
May 2022 - James Hitchmough, Professor of Horticultural Ecology University of Sheffield, UK
Flora of Southwest Africa
Well known for his ‘prairie planting’ designs, Prof Hitchmough talks to us about his visits to the Western Cape, South Africa to explore the potential of its flora for climate change in Western Europe.
April 2022 - Cristóbal Elgueta, Landscape Architect, Santiago, Chile
This is a way of understanding the garden not only as an aesthetic and design exercise, but also as a powerful tool to restore balance and reconnect with nature. Cristóbal explains his methodology to make the garden a rich, beautiful and diverse biological system.
March 2022 - Marco Scano, Agronomist, Pratobello, Sardinia, Italy
Gardening Sustainably in Sardinia
At Pratobello Marco designs gardens using a naturalistic approach which aims to increase sustainability and cope with climate change related problems. As a post graduate researcher and PhD student at Sheffield University, he is running a project to explore the performance of designed plant communities under reduced maintenance protocols and limited irrigation.
February 2022 - Thomas Doxiadis, Principal Architect, doxiadis+, Athens
The Snake in the Garden: Designing for Symbiosis
Thomas Doxiadis asks: As designers, how do we construct on our beautiful and sensitive landscapes without destroying them? Designing for Symbiosis reverses the trend of transformation as destruction by formulating transformation as a new synthesis, a cohabitation.
January 2022 - David Godshall and Jenny Jones, partners in Terremoto Landscape, Los Angeles
New Factors in Horticultural Sustainabilty
David Godshall and Jenny Jones shared their inspiring vision for future horticultural sustainability. Arguing that designers need to be at the forefront of change, they presented the themes, threads and subtexts that run through their client-commissioned projects. They then introduced more experimental, explorative Terremoto-driven horticultural and land initiatives.
December 2021- David Ward, Garden and Nursery Director at Beth Chatto Gardens UK
Beth Chatto’s Gravel Garden: the creation of a drought-resistant garden
The Gravel Garden is situated in the driest part of the British Isles. Surviving on poor gravelly soil, Beth Chatto’s Gravel Garden is today one of the finest examples of drought resistant planting in the country. David’s talk guides us through the theory and practicalities of the garden’s creation, its design and ongoing maintenance, as well as a glimpse of some seasonal highlights.
Lucinda Willan, Head Gardener at the MGS garden Sparoza
Lucinda talks to the MGS AGM about her first year 2020-21: the ever changing flora and the challenges of extreme weather. But most of all the loss of our founder President Sally Razelou.
November 2021 - Rachel Weaving, Gardener, Author, MGS member
Gardens of Corfu
In this introduction to the gardens of the island, Rachel touches on how they reflect the climate and environment and Corfu’s unusual cosmopolitan history; how the remarkable crop of contemporary gardens there reflect global design trends; and how both the old and new gardens have certain stylistic features in common, based on local materials and crafts. Some of her illustrations come from her recent book with photographer Marianne Majerus: Gardens of Corfu.
October 2021 - Noel Kingsbury Author, Garden Designer, Lecturer
Mediterranean Gardening - a new adventure
Noel is internationally known for his promotion of an ecological or naturalistic approach to planting design. In January 2020 he began work in his garden near Oliveira do Hospital in central Portugal where he is building a minimal irrigation garden which is both ornamental and supportive of local biodiversity. It is to this garden we go together with Noel during our Zoom Encounter where he shares this new experience of gardening in the Mediterranean.
September 2021 - Valerio Miragoli, Garden Designer: Designing Gardens in Ibiza
"In search of coherence in the garden"
Valerio has created some of the most spectacular gardens in Ibiza. He has succeeded in moulding client’s desires and demands for showy summer gardens often incompatible with the extreme climate (prolonged drought, intense heat, burning sunlight, salty winds, poor soils) into a new aesthetic in keeping with the conditions and surrounding landscape. He introduces us to dazzling Ibiza and shares some of his favourite garden projects.
June 2021 - Marijke Honig, Botanist and Garden Landscaper, Cape Town, SA:
'Stress as an Asset'
In the Western Cape of South Africa, weather patterns are becoming more unpredictable and extreme. Marijke talks about how local gardeners need to adapt their approaches to create resilient landscapes and gardens that can survive and can bounce back after severe climatic events. They will need to unlearn old habits (feeding, watering, pruning, digging) that force static states in a garden where the role of stress is viewed as a plus. What we see as beauty in gardens and what we value about gardens is re-examined.
May 2021 - Alessandra Vinciguerra, Director, La Mortella and MGS member:
‘A Virtual Visit to La Mortella Gardens, Ischia, Italy’
La Mortella, “place of Myrtles”, is the spectacular subtropical and mediterranean garden envisioned and built by Susana Walton on a piece of land on Monte Zaro - half rocky hillside, half valley - to house her and her husband the composer Sir William Walton’s main residence. Russell Page the British landscape architect was responsible for the design of the lower garden “The Valley” while the upper side or “The Hill” was Lady Walton’s own design.
April 2021 - Maurizio Usai:
"Mediterranean gardens - a different perspective”
Sardinian native, plant addicted, garden designer, landscape architect and talented photographer Maurizio Usai shares images of his gardens and favourite plants in Sardinia and across Italy and discusses his design approach as he tries to capture and enhance that particular "sense of place" in each and every project.
March 2021- 2nd Pan-Australian Conference of the MGS - Castlemaine
Day One Lecture programme
Despite postponement from 2020 due to Covid, this was a most successful conference, attended by MGS members from across Australia. Here are video recordings of three of the talks given on the first morning of the programme.
David Glenn is founder and proprietor of Lambley nursery and display gardens. He has been a nurseryman for 55 years is the leading supplier of Mediterranean plants in Victoria. The garden is on the inland plain of Victoria at 450m and can experience temperatures from -6 to + 45C. In his talk “Turkish trees, shrubs, perennials and bulbs in the garden at Lambley”, David introduces us to some of the marvellous plants from Turkey which grow happily at Lambley.
Peter May is former head of campus, University of Melbourne, Burnley Campus the leading horticultural education and research institution in Victoria. In his presentation “Some thoughts on gardening in a Mediterranean climate”, Peter looks at the way climate tools may be of use in making plant choices for gardens in places with dry summers. He also makes some observations about soil influences on planting success and discuss some of the techniques that can be used to modify soil properties, with references to his own, relatively young garden.
Caroline Davies is President of the MGS. In her talk “Wild flowers and gardens of Greece and the Mediterranean” she illustrates the beauty of the natural landscape with its intensity of light and wealth of wildflowers in spring and autumn, tying this in with the approach by many mediterranean gardeners in Greece and other countries to create gardens of great beauty, whilst gardening in a sustainable way, allowing Nature to show the way. In her tiny garden too, she replicates visions of the plants admired on her travels.
March 2021 - Matteo La Civita, Gardener and Landscape Architect
Matteo divides his time between London and Gorizia and recently became curator of the Lucio Viatori Garden in Gorizia. Over the last 15 years, he has gradually been developing his own private garden also in Gorizia to house several impressive collections the largest of which is peonies – a personal favourite. It is to this private garden we “travel” in this talk.
February 2021 - Judith Wade, Founder and Chief Executive Officer
Grandi Giardini Italiani (GGI)
Established by Judith in 1997 with a vision of bringing the immense artistic and botanical heritage of Italian gardens, many hitherto private and hidden or public but often in disrepair, into the eye of the general public. The GGI network is now a cultural landmark with over 140 gardens in its fold with visitor numbers in the millions. Judith recounts the story of this journey.
January 2021 - James Basson
Planting Design with Maintenance in Mind
Best known as the winner of the best in show award at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in 2017. Nearly all of James’s work to date has been achieved on the French Riviera, where he is based. James talked to MGS Italy about his approach to gardening with a view to reducing maintenance once the planting was complete. The use of gravel mulch and attention to pruning are key techniques. The talk is illustrated with examples from his ongoing project at Chateau Capitoul.
Stefano Assogna e Il giardino del futuro
Stefano è un garden designer laziale che ha iniziato la sua vita professionale come giardiniere e ciò gli ha permesso di sviluppare forti competenze nel campo delle piante e dei giardini, fondamentali in ogni fase progettuale. La sua creatività e passione per il disegno tecnico e artistico lo hanno portato a specializzarsi in Garden Design. In questa presentazione in italiano, Stefano ha utilizzato disegni, fotografie e video per raccontarci di un giardino che ha progettato due anni fa. Costruito su una collina nei Castelli Romani, questo è un giardino mediterraneo moderno creato secondo principi di sostenibilità e biodiversità.
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