The Mediterranean Climate
The Mediterranean climate takes its name from the sea which is one of its dominant traits. Its outstanding features are its hot and dry summers with mild winters bringing variable amounts of rain. A short spring and lengthy autumn are transition seasons.
Mean summer temperatures range from 22 - 27 degrees centigrade, but midday temperatures in July and August easily reach or exceed 35 degrees, especially inland. Mean temperatures in January, our mean coldest month, range mostly from 5 - 10 degrees, but may drop to freezing and below.
However, the Mediterranean basin is a reservoir for warmth. Locations near the sea reduce the range between lowest and highest temperatures. Thus gardens enjoy more temperate climates the nearer they are to the sea. Summers are not as hot as a few miles inland and winters are spared several degrees of cold. Altitude reduces highs and lows, both in summer and in winter.
The characteristic blue Mediterranean skies give this region the highest solar radiation and light intensities on earth. Almost all are more than your plants need and thus challenge plants' survival. Mean monthly hours of sunshine in January average 151, in July 366 hours.
Rain, rare in summer, generally begins around early autumn and continues into winter and spring. Occasionally, torrential rain may drop 100 mm in 24 hours. Snow, hail or even frost at high altitudes or in frost pockets. However, extended periods of drought with sunshine occur during what is considered the rainy winter season. Mean monthly rainfall ranges from 1 millimetre in July to 64 in October.