Mediterranean Flowers that Thrive Locally

by Ken Lain, the mountain gardener

The mountains of Arizona have so many sunny days with moderate temperatures that people rarely need to wear more than light jackets.  Mild winters and dry hot summers, both with low humidity and irregular rainfalls, mimic the climate of the Mediterranean.

Lavender in the Landscape

Many Mediterranean plants thrive locally, as both areas present the same challenges of growing flowers in regions that are beautiful yet harsh.  Rocky soil, windswept mountain tops, and drought are a few of the conditions these 10 rugged Mediterranean flowers shrug off in local gardens.

Top Right – California Poppy, Crepe Myrtle,
Daphne, Euphorbia

California Poppy seems to take over entire Arizona mountainsides.  How can blooms with such ethereal beauty be so tough? This welcome harbinger of spring adds its vivid orange hue to any garden with ample sunshine and light soil. Although the plant is an annual, it self-seeds and every year the bluish-green foliage makes newly emerging seedlings easy to recognize.

Crepe Myrtle, with its breathtaking flower colors, is a welcome sight during every garden’s late-summer lull. This is the perfect summer bloomer for gardens enhancing Prescott’s summer homes.  With so many varieties available, it is popular to plant several of the different neon colors.  Plant where you can enjoy a “close up” view of its beautiful multicolored bark and sinuous branches.  Buy online or here at Watters.

Daphne is for the Mediterranean garden that receives shade from oak or cypress trees; the shrub is a flattering flowering companion to the trees. The highly fragrant shrub demands good drainage, and likes protection from the mid-afternoon summer sun. Choose a variety with variegated leaves, like ‘Maejima’, and you’ll have a beautiful specimen plant, whether in or out of bloom.

Ascot Rainbow Euphorbia is commonly known as “spurge”.  The many varieties of euphorbia have colorful bracts rather than true flower petals. The electric shade of green foliage provides an excellent complement to every other blossom color in the garden.  Local native “gopher plant” is a direct descendant of Euphorbia, and absolutely deer proof.

Top Right – Lavender, Agapanthus,
Gaura, Russian Sage

Lavender bears a scent disliked by only very few people. How glorious it is to find a garden plant whose crushed leaves smell just as beautiful as the blossoms! If your garden is overwhelmed with shades of blue and purple, try one of the other-colored lavenders, like the white ‘Edelweiss’ or  yellow ‘Chiffon.’  All lavenders are javelina and rabbit proof.

Midnight Blue Agapanthus, also known as Lily-of-the-Nile, adds height, strong textural interest, and shades of royal blue to the landscape.  It multiplies profusely so that you can take divisions for friends or other parts of the garden. The plant adapts well to containers.

Passionate Rainbow Gaura offers a spring-to-fall profusion of rose-pink blossoms that hover above variegated foliage that’s every bit as charming as the flowers. With its exceptional tolerance to heat and drought, gaura is a lush addition to rock gardens, borders, and containers.

Peek-A-Blue Russian Sage is a colorful, drought tolerant, easy-care choice for accent, border, or as a specimen in a sunny border. Airy lavender-blue spires crown well-mannered mounds of silvery textured foliage. 

Top – Sea Lavender, Ranunculus

Ranunculus is a “beauty from ugly” phenom because from its strange, claw-like tubers emerge some of the most densely ruffled blooms that resemble peony flowers!  It is so tough that it will thrive through an early spring frost in a continual wave of flowers.

Sea Lavender, also known as beach heliotrope, gets its name because it also grows well in a coastal garden beset by salt spray. The evergreen plants, bearing bright purple flowers all summer, provide excellent erosion control.  Ideal companion plants are black-eyed Susan, daylily, echeveria, sedum, and yarrow.

Until next week, I’ll be helping gardeners create Mediterranean garden styles here at Watters Garden Center.

Ken Lain can be found throughout the week at Watters Garden Center, 1815 W. Iron Springs Rd in Prescott, or contacted through his web site at or .

2 Replies to “Mediterranean Flowers that Thrive Locally”

  1. Ken (and Lisa),
    Keep up the great work! Your articles are always very interesting and informative.
    I subscribe to The Daily Courier. I cut out most of your articles so I can use them as a quick reference in the future. It’s not unusual for me to educate others on what may be their best choice.
    Your valuable information helps me decide what plant or tree is probably the best in my situation.
    Thank you for the outstanding job both of you do. We’re very fortunate to have you in our community.

    Tom & Judy Rutherford

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