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A Garden in Psychiko, Athens
Athens has many small hills and during the last century many of them were quarried. Our house is built on the rocky summit of one of the taller of these hills 8 km from the centre of Athens at the upper edge of a filled-in quarry. The property faces west, sloping down gradually near the house and then quite sharply before the decline becomes more gradual at the western edge. The area is about 30,000 square metres mostly covered with olive and almond trees as well as a few Pinus pinea and cypress trees, but otherwise left uncultivated with many indigenous wild flowers, such as Sternbergia lutea, Asphodelus albus, Anagallis arvensis, Muscari comosum, Phlomis fruticosa, Athamanta turbith, Malva sylvestris, Convolvulus dorycnium, some wild orchids, cyclamens, and many, many others.
My grandfather had built low cement walls for retaining beds by the house for the flowers he occasionally planted. We started our garden around the house in 2002 using these beds, with no knowledge, piece by piece, in poor soil and with water only from the town water supply. Now we collect rain water from our roof in a cistern (about 60 cubic metres) but water remains a problem.
We selected from Chrysanthi Paragiou's nursery the most commonly available drought-tolerant plants. As beginners, we planted too many varieties in small areas. The result, however, is pleasing as the garden matures and it looks quite different from the other gardens in our area. We are now gradually expanding beyond the beds, choosing plants that flower in different seasons.
Lantana camara, Abelia grandiflora, Parthenocissus, Elaeagnus
Syringa vulgaris, Origanum majorana, Phlomis fruticosa, Lavandula,
Rosmarinus officinalis, Centranthus ruber
Pelargonium, Phlomis, Achillea, Buddleja, Spiraea cantoniensis
Euphorbia characias, Echium candicans, Artemisia arborescens
The top part of the hill, Prunus amygdalus and Phlomis fruticosa
Asphodelus albus, Phlomis fruticosa
(natural, uncultivated part of the