Mediterranean Plants in Tuolumne County

The most obvious Mediterranean plants seen all over the foothills are lavender and rosemary There are many species and varieties within species of these two plant types that would do well in any foothills garden. But there are other plants that take full sun, need well-drained soil, require very little summer water once established and are deer resistant.

Let’s start with the germanders: Germanders, are from the Mediterranean region of Europe and western Asia, which just happens to have the same type of climate as the foothills – rain in the winter and spring and dry in the summer.

Teucrium aroanium is a gray creeping germander that grows into a low mound with deep lavender-pink flowers. It is a lovely sun-loving ground cover. Once established, shear back in mid-spring to invigorate the plant. Mulch wtih gravel to reduce watering.

Teucrium fruiticans is a bushy evergreen shrub with white-woolly shoots and pale blue flowers. The leaves are gray-green and white-woolly on the underside, giving this shrub a gray overall look. It looks great next to an upright rosemary plant.

Teucrium chamaedrys in an evergreen sub-shrub with glossy, dark green leaves and pale pink to dark purple flowers. You can’t let this small shrub grow together to form a hedge or shear back every year to keep it low. All of these germanders need little water in the summer and look good all year long.

Here are a few more Mediterranean plants to look for in the nurseries:

Lamb’s ear (Stachy’s byzantina) – This gray, wooly-leaf plant is ideal as an edging or ground-cover. It produces spikes of wooly, pink-purple flowers. The cultivar silver carpet has intensely silvered, grayish white leaves and does not flower.

Mugwort (Artemesia) – Many different species of this plant do well here in the foothills. The gray foliage is a great accent to the green leafed plants in the garden. Cut back in early spring to rejuvenate the plant.

Sage (Salvia species) – Sages are wonderful accent plants, as they seem to bloom on and on. l have several species in my garden including the native Bee’s Bliss, a low-growing creeping gray sage with periwinkle blue flowers.

Hummingbird mint or hyssop (Agastache species) – This is not a Mediterranean plant, but because it looks so good with lavender and comes in so many flower colors, loves the sun and does well with low water, I just feel it must be included with this group of plants. Give Agastache well-drained soil and a nice gravel mulch and sit back and watch the hummingbirds when the plant comes into bloom.

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Mediterranean plants, but I think it will give you a starting point if you are planning a water-wise garden. Do note that most of these plants like a gravel mulch to help keep their roots cool and conserve moisture in the soil.