|Mediterranean Garden Society|
The Crete Branch of the MGS
Several events have been held at Pam and Geoff Dunn’s home over the years where they have space for us both to meet informally and to enjoy more formal presentations. Members always have the opportunity to look around the garden at these events.
On this occasion, before Yvonne’s talk, Pam showed us around their immaculate garden. For more detail about this lovely garden look at the article written in June 2013. Since that time plants have matured considerably. The photograph above shows well-established succulents and agaves filling the spaces and providing a contrast between the rocks on the side of the path linking the two houses.
Further into the garden there were interesting plants such as Cascabela thevetia or yellow oleander, Caesalpinia gilliesii (syn. Erythrostemon gilliesii) a beautiful shrub commonly known as bird of paradise tree (it is not related to Strelitzia reginae which is also called the bird of paradise). Leucophyllum frutescens, or barometer bush, has small vibrant purple flowers when watered or after rain; this is a compact but loosely branched shrub that Pam shapes in her garden.
Following the garden tour Yvonne Innes gave a fascinating talk about her commission for the 2008 Chelsea Flower Show. Yvonne is a garden designer and plant consultant who has extensive experience, including work in Spain and France. After George Harrison’s death she designed a Chelsea Flower Show garden in his memory, commissioned by Olivia Harrison, his wife. The main focus for this evening’s presentation was the background, design and implementation of this particular garden called ‘From Life to Life, a Garden for George’. The design for this memorial garden for George Harrison was a celebration of his life, music and philosophy, created to depict his life and journey from the material to the spiritual world.
George and his wife Olivia loved going to the Chelsea Flower Show each year and they brought many ideas home. He was said to have viewed himself as a full-time gardener and part-time rock star. Yvonne spoke of ‘his incredible eye’ and considers that he could easily have been a garden designer himself. Clearly, this is what he was in his own garden of 60 acres, which had been neglected for many years when he bought the derelict property in 1980. It had originally belonged to an eccentric who had created areas of several different microclimates including rock gardens, caves, moss, water gardens and a lake.
Yvonne talked of the privilege of creating gardens at Chelsea. Given the commission, she expressed how the ‘world was her oyster’, being able to choose her team, plants and materials with no problem. This was, she said, a dream job, whatever you can draw you can build. She is immensely proud of the results, and rightly so.
To provide the context for her design, she started by giving insight into the background of George’s own garden at his home in Friar Park, Henley. She has been involved in designing and planning sections over the years and she retains her links there. This was fascinating and helped provide ideas for the design of the memorial garden. Friar Park remains a private garden; key plants and features chosen for Chelsea were those that were much loved there, such as maples, ferns, grasses, moss, Japanese anemones and other perennials.
So to the design as seen in the photograph below. The model shows the idea of the ‘moving through the ages’ pathway.
Divided into four areas representing different stages in George’s life: the Liverpool Garden representing his childhood, the Psychedelic 1960s Garden (the Beatle years), the Contemplative Garden (post-Beatle years) and the Afterlife Garden.
The implementation of the building work started four to five weeks before the show week. All materials were chosen to be as eco-friendly as possible. For example, red bricks from Liverpool and a bicycle Olivia found that was identical to the one from a childhood photograph of George were used in the first section.
The ages pathway was made in colours reflecting that stage of life. Brian Clarke, a glass artist, produced the amazing mosaic of Liverpool and the Liver Building for the childhood section. This was an impressive 1.2 metres wide. Yvonne chose to make a vegetable garden alongside this with plants such as peas, beans, parsley, cabbage and kale. George’s father was a keen vegetable grower and this was strongly reflected in his interest in gardening from an early age.
Colour changes from blue to red, orange and yellow as the path moves into the Psychedelic garden. Then it changes from blueish into white. Planting alongside reflects these colour changes admirably.
The Psychedelic Garden is jam-packed with hundreds of plants of vibrant colours. Yvonne had submitted a plant list with the design plan to provide the effect she wanted, but she explained that the planting list you start out with is not necessarily the one you end up with, as plant crops may fail or their names are changed etc. So it is really a sort of plants 'such as' list with a few definite ones which plant enthusiasts will be able to identify themselves. The whole Chelsea week is so rushed that there is not time to redo the list with the additions of plants you have managed to scavenge from local nurseries.
Plants such as Acer palmatum ‘Atropurpureum’ and Heuchera micrantha ‘Palace Purple’ provide purple foliage, with Allium ‘Purple Sensation’ and Lupinus ‘Masterpiece’ for purple flowers. Examples of yellow and orange foliage were Heuchera ‘Caramel’ and Ligustrum ovalifolium ‘Aureum’,while for yellow and orange flowers Achillea ‘Moonshine’, Hemerocallis lilioasphodelus and Forsythia ‘Lynwood Gold’ were planned choices. Centranthus ruber, Lupinus ‘My Castle’ and various roses were examples of red flowers. Blue and silver foliage examples were Achillea ‘Moonshine’ and Santolina decumbens (syn. Santolina incana),while for flowers Ceanothus ‘Blue Mound’, Delphinium ‘Bluebird’, Lupinus ‘Gallery Blue’, and Rheum and Hosta varieties. Pittosporum ‘Garnettii’ and Miscanthus sinensis ‘Variegatus’ provided variegated foliage.
The post-Beatles garden was a contemplative garden. For this, Yvonne chose Betula utilis var. jacquemontii (Himalayan birch), having a more static, formal, upright habit than a silver birch with a denser crown, ideal for use as a specimen tree. Moss, a variety of ferns and wild grasses from Friar Park were also incorporated into the design. A water wall with a larger than life picture of George was featured at the end of this section
The Indian Temple was erected with beautiful artisan touches, it was intended to be ethereal. We were shown details of the tiny mosaic finish and lattice work inside the pavilion and the benches which were covered with beautifully made cushions. The base of the pavilion was inscribed: ‘Floating down the stream of time, of life to life ... with me’ (An extract from lyrics written by George).
In the After Life garden, the planting was primarily white with choices such as white roses and lupins, Phlox paniculata, Cornus controversa ‘Variegata’, Heuchera varieties and Hosta ‘Bressingham Blue’. The result was exquisite.
This was a fascinating presentation. All of us at the event were of an age when we knew of George Harrison but not necessarily the details of his life and values. Listening and seeing aspects of this that led to the design and making of ‘From Life to Life, a Garden for George,’ a memorial garden at the Chelsea Flower Show, was a privilege.
Yvonne described her involvement in making this garden as an amazing experience; everyone wanted to be part of it and to give of their best. It seemed appropriate to learn that the pavilion went to Friar Park.
We were delighted to welcome Yvonne Innes to Crete and thank her for an inspiring presentation and experience. She is a fellow MGS member, now living in the South of France. Our branch prides itself on welcoming members from elsewhere.
A bring and share supper on Pam and Geoff’s delightful terrace completed the evening, thank you both. Also thank you to Pam for showing us around the garden.
Text and photographs from Pam’s garden by Valerie Whittington
Frances and Andy kindly invited members to visit their developing garden.
After a friendly welcome Frances explained, ‘We bought the plot in 2001 but have only really started work on the garden in the last four years, so things are very much in the early stages. It has been a learning curve dictated by the wind and rocks, a situation familiar to others on the island.’
The area is a flat piece of land that had no previous cultivation. As a result, they inherited many wild flowers including irises, gladioli, narcissi and several orchids, but by our visit at the end of May this section of the garden had been strimmed. We had a very early, hot spring this year and all the wildflowers had finished. On the day of our visit it was around 30 degrees Celsius.
In 2014 several of us ordered plants from Olivier Filippi’s dry garden nursery near Montpellier. Frances had ordered many plants of well-researched varieties with the aim of developing this blank canvas into a garden. Unfortunately, when the plants arrived in the autumn the ground preparation was incomplete so many had to be potted on and kept until planting could take place. Most survived well. A second order was placed in 2016 based on the successes of the first. This was of particular interest to newer members equally keen to develop their own gardens with the most appropriate plants for the climate on Crete.
A list of the plants used was provided for everyone, which was useful as Frances and Andy were sharing their successes and failures in developing the garden so far. This also aided plant identification as we admired individual specimens.
Useful discussion took place about the importance of choosing the right plant for the right place, learning what works in one’s own situation, sharing and building on our experiences of gardening in often difficult soil conditions and a very different climate. With local water cuts taking place already, Valerie stressed the importance of being waterwise and reminded the group about the excellent MGS leaflets sent to all members on joining the society, The Waterwise Garden – Conserving Water and Mulches and Compost.
Groundcover plants were discussed first. These have been very successful, easy to propagate and they are spreading well. They include Campanula portenschlagiana, Lantana montevidensis, Potentilla grandiflora (syn. P. verna), Geranium macrorrhizum ‘Spessart’, Geranium sanguineum, Geranium sanguineum ‘Album’, Geranium x cantabrigiense ‘Bikovo’and Geranium x cantabrigiense ‘Karmina’.
Of particular interest to many is the use of lawn alternatives to create a successful carpet under some of the trees. Plants used for this are: Achillea crithmifolia, Phyla nodiflora (syn. P. nodiflora var. canescens)and Thymus serpyllum (syn. T. ciliatus). Photographs below.
The climbing plants Campsis radicans ‘Flava’, Campsis x tagliabuana ‘Madame Galen’, Hedera algeriensis ‘Gloire de Marengo’and Trachelospermum jasminoides are all doing well in Frances’ opinion, but not exceptionally so.
In a large, colourful and attractive area it was interesting to see different varieties of plants collected together, for example, the range of colour from Nerium ‘Angiolo Pucci’, Nerium ‘Luteum Plenum’, Nerium ‘Soeur Agnes’ and Nerium ‘Louis Pouget’. The blues of Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Spice Islands’, Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Tuscan Blue’, Salvia chamaedryoides and Salvia microphylla ‘Royal Bumble’ contrasted beautifully with the white flowers and silvery leaves of the spectacular Convolvulus cneorum.
From this section several of us admired the tough all-summer flowering Catananche caerulea. A dancing plant, bright blue.
The Cretan endemic Ebenus cretica, although it had finished flowering, stood proudly centre stage of this developing border showing off its downy seed heads: clearly very happy in its setting.
Gaura lindheimeri, Cistus ‘Blanche’ and Halimium atriplicifolium (syn. Cistus atriplicifolium) all successfully complementing one another and equally at home in the garden. Various bulbs and corms have proved most successful: freesias, irises, narcissi and ranunculi.
Failures that Frances noted were Cestrum nocturnum, Spirea x cinerea ‘Grefsheim’, Rhodanthemum hosmariense, Deutzia gracilis and Myrtus communis subsp. tarentina. She had hoped that the myrtle would be good for topiary. In discussing possible reasons for failure, she highlighted possible lack of sufficient water in the first year, strong winds (often hot) and planting difficulties caused by too much rock in the soil. Since then Andy has meticulously dug out much rock from the planting beds, they have bought in river sand and generally improved the soil.
Trees such as jacaranda, Albizia julibrissin and several varieties of fruit trees, including walnut, are becoming established.
Newer members found it encouraging to visit a garden in progress. Some of our local gardens are now well established and can be a little daunting for those just starting out.
A light bring-and-share finger buffet enhanced the social aspect of this event. We sat around in the sunshine enjoying both good food and company.
With thanks to Francis and Andy for their hospitality and willingness to share their garden experiences.Text and photographs by Valerie Whittington
The Cretan branch of the MGS hosted a visit from 15 Australians, three of whom are members of the MGS in Australia, to three members’ gardens in the Apokoronas area on Saturday 5th May.
The day began with a visit to the garden of Sara and Roger Gilding in the village of Kefalas, 480 metres above sea level. This is a village house garden, 14 years in the making, the design of which reflects the owners’ creative background and travels.
The second garden visited was that of Rosemary and Alan Thomas in Plaka. This is an enclosed courtyard garden facing out over Souda Bay, divided into four separate seating areas with choice plants.
Following an excellent lunch of mezedes at a local taverna in the delightful village square of Plaka, the final garden visited was that of Jane and Roger Newbery in Kokkino Chorio. This is a rock garden described by Jane as ‘The Garden with Four Winds’ due to its exposed position 600 feet above sea level with open views to the sea.
All three gardens are very different in style and planting and they gave the visitors a very good idea both of the variety of plants we can grow and of some of the challenges faced when gardening on a windy peninsula. It was an exceptional day enjoyed by everyone and as always it was such a pleasure to meet fellow gardeners gardening in a mediterranean climate and to share experiences.
Text and photographs by Sara Gilding
As noted in the previous article for March, this small, enclosed garden overlooks the sea to the front and is divided into three courtyards, all with seating areas and packed with succulents, cacti and tropical plants, many of which are planted in an assortment of pots. (See the articles on the Crete Branch web page, June 2017 and December 2013.) New members were particularly welcomed to this special garden.
Rosemary recalls: ‘It was a fine dry day for friends to visit the garden and all the plants look better for a little cloud. I do find here on Crete that plants which are supposed to enjoy full sun thrive with a little shade at some point in the day and look the better for it. My courtyards are filling up with so many pots, many with exotic plants and quite sizeable cacti, now leaving just enough room to walk around between them and sit at one of the many tables and chairs. I love all my plants, but I do have favourites, for example my jewel box arrangements of succulents, they are all so different.’
Sally and Peter Barker wrote: ‘We enjoyed a very warm welcome for our first MGS visit. We are full of admiration for Rosemary’s skill and knowledge. Many of the plants were new to me, but my favourite was the fishbone cactus, trailing from a pot in a corner.’
Andy and Frances commented: ‘We enjoyed the visit to Rosemary's garden, she has an amazing selection of succulents and seeing such a collection has given us a new respect for them. The visit has also given us a number of ideas for a succulent area in our own garden. We also admired her Moroccan courtyard, which is very atmospheric and a pleasant retreat from the heat.’
Andy Lunt thoroughly enjoyed the visit to Rosemary and Alan's garden. His summary of the visit was succinct and to the point: ‘A charming garden of cacti, succulents and exotic plants expertly arranged.’
This visit was a relaxed and pleasant way to spend a morning as well as an opportunity to share our own experiences of gardening.
Thanks to Rosemary and Alan for their hospitality and for providing the photographs and to participating members for their comments.
We welcomed a group of 22 horticulturalists from California. Robin Parer, the group’s organiser, wrote: ‘We have some dynamic speakers among our group, an expert on water conservation, a couple of terrific garden designers, and couple of people with superb gardens, one of which was just published, and three lots of nursery owners, one of which is, in addition, a lecturer at a local college; just all sorts of talent. And we would love to meet your group and hear more about your gardening triumphs and challenges.’
During the day the group visited local MGS members’ gardens. Eleftherios Dariotis (MGS AC reserve member) accompanied them.
Garden 1: Rosemary Thomas’s Courtyard Garden, Plaka
Garden 2: Valerie and Clive Whittington’s garden in Drapanos
The group then rambled along a country lane to Leonidas’ taverna in the centre of Drapanos Village where we enjoyed a traditional Cretan lunch.
Garden 3: Sara and Roger Gilding’s artistic village garden
A delightful walk along the lanes took us to:
Garden 4: Jan and Vangelis’ Garden, Kefalas
Next, we travelled to Chloroplastes (Mediterranean Subtropical Gardening and Environment Planning) in Kalives. We were warmly met by the owners, Annika and Stelios, at their new greenhouse and Annika gave a presentation outlining their plans for the development of their new nursery. (See web page October 2017). A visit to two of their clients’ gardens followed.
In the evening there were two excellent illustrated talks. One was by Roger Raiche of Planet Horticulture entitled An Island on the Land. This talk showcased The Cedars, one of California’s for ecological diversity, created by the geology of serpentine (ultramafic: high iron and magnesium) rock.
The second talk, by Marilee Kuhlmann from Comfort Zones and Urban Water Group, California was Water and Carbon Sensitive Landscape Design - A discussion on using our gardens to facilitate a positive impact on our environment. Marilee showed proven methods for efficiently using rainwater in gardens to help them thrive as our climate changes.
This evening event was a perfect opportunity for a wider group of our Crete Branch membersto meet our Californian visitors over another traditional Cretan meal. I was delighted that 24 local members joined the visitors.
It was quite daunting to have such experienced professionals visiting our gardens. None of the owners of the private gardens visited have had any formal training; we continue learning as our gardens develop and progress.
One of the benefits of MGS membership to me is the wonderful camaraderie forged from other MGS members across the world. This convivial social gathering completed a long and varied, but very enjoyable, day.
Text: Valerie Whittington
Our first event of the year was held on a beautiful sunny morning in Sara and Roger’s garden studio in Kefalas. Their garden looked stunning with plenty of early spring colours.
This very interesting and well-prepared talk focused upon the gardens they had visited over a period of three weeks in November. Sara gave great insight into the philosophy behind Japanese gardens and, during the presentation, spoke of several of their other cultural experiences.
The Hama-rikyu Garden was the Tokyo family garden of the Tokugawa Shogun. It was donated to the public by the Imperial family in 1946.The photograph shows the tidal pond from the Bay of Tokyo.
Otagi Nenbutsu-ji Temple, Kyoto is a moss garden. It has 1200 rakan, or stone statues, representing the disciples of Buddha. In 1955 a new head priest was appointed, Kocho Nishimura, who was also an accomplished sculptor. He implemented the idea of having visitors carve their own statues for the temple under his guidance. These were all added to the temple between 1981 and 1991 but look much older because they have become covered in moss. Each one is unique and many have whimsical and humorous expressions. We were shown several close-up photographs of these. They were fascinating.
This is a stroll garden and World Heritage site, of which there are 17 in Kyoto. Sara described how the Kinkaku-ji Temple in Kyoto was originally built as an aristocrat’s country estate in 1185. It was taken into possession by the Shogun in 1397 and rebuilt as a Buddhist temple in 1422. It fell into decline but was restored as an Imperial Palace during the Edo period. When the Golden Pavilion was constructed, two floors were covered in gold leaf. After it was burnt to the ground in 1950, an exact reconstruction was completed in five years. It is still used by the royal family for entertaining heads of state.
The Adashina Nenbutsu-ji Temple, in the Kyoto area, was previously a burial ground or a place where the dead were left. There are now 8000 stone statues in memory of the souls of the dead. Every August the Sento-Kuyo ceremony is held where candles are lit in memory of those who died without relatives.
This contemporary garden opened in 1980, incorporating a little of every style, and it excels in the use of ‘borrowed landscape’. It was conceived by Zenko Adachi, a textile wholesaler who collected art. He designed the gardens and collected the plant specimens and rocks from all over Japan.
Rirsurin Garden, Takamatsu, Shikoku, is a 16-hectare stroll garden, originally a late sixteenth-century feudal lord’s garden, which was opened to public in 1875. Six-hundred- year-old cycads grow here.
This was an excellent presentation that gave us a much greater understanding of gardens in Japanese culture through well-researched detail and high-quality photography.
Annika and Stelios, the proprietors of Chloroplastes, welcomed 20 of us to their new greenhouse at the pre-launch of their new nursery development. Annika spoke about their plans for the future and she was keen to involve us as they are MGS members themselves. This took place through discussion regarding relevant drought-tolerant and exotic plants of interest to the group for our particular location. They also offered the area as a possible venue for relevant activities and meetings for our group in the future.
Annika’s presentation included the design drawings and details about the new nursery project as well as features of the impressive new greenhouse. Electricity and internet will be available in the greenhouse so that it may be used for small events, including for some of our MGS events, mainly during the summer months when plant production won’t be taking place.
At the moment much is still a building site, but some structural planting has taken place; the layout is both functional and interesting, landscaped ready for further planting and finishing. Although they are still waiting for the building license for the garden office, the first stage of the project is already in place and should be completed in spring-autumn 2018.
Annika went on to describe the ‘Chloroplastes Nursery Plan’ which showed how long it takes to develop from idea to fruition. First steps were made in 2014 with the purchase of the land of approximately 2500 square metres. Although this is not small, it is not that big when one is starting up a plant nursery with a production area (greenhouse and outside space), a selling area, garden office, show garden and so on. Both Annika and Stelios are aware that combining all their ideas within the available space poses a challenge.
The land was originally an olive grove with 36 olive trees. They wanted to keep most of them but accepted that a nursery needs plenty of open space and have landscaped using the space to best effect. This meant the removal of just eight trees so 28 remain, making it a potentially delightful area.
A great deal of thought has been put into the overall design with several difficulties to overcome, for example in planning the entrance. This was quite steep, so they created a curved, diagonal drive from the road up to the parking area and created deeper planting areas by building small retaining walls. An olive tree was kept in the middle and a small rondel created around it. The parking area is defined and ready to be planted with turf grids greened with a mediterranean lawn. Annika showed a sample of this and it will be interesting to see it completed.
The next stage was to create two buildings, the greenhouse and office, which basically split the area in two sections. Section one is the main nursery area with entrance, parking, greenhouse, office, a rockery show garden along the road wall, selling area and small courtyard by the office. A water feature consisting of a river stream and small pond with a waterfall-fountain is planned. A variety of trees have already been planted, including cypresses for structure, the delightful Cercis siliquastrum (Judas tree) and a selection of more unusual specimens such as Tabebuia rosea (pink poui or rosy trumpet tree from Mexico, Venezuela and Ecuador) and Lagunaria patersonia(an Australian plant endemic to coastal Queensland and sometimes known as Norfolk Island hibiscus or Queensland white oak), as well as the more familiar Pistacia vera and Arbutus andrachne. More trees may be added.
Section two will be at the back of the plot with space for the outside plant production area, a storage room, vegetable garden and a further show garden section.
Next Annika described their plans for plant production.
The emphasis is on a nursery with native plants from Crete, Greece and mediterranean climates in general, with the aim to abstain from synthetic fertilizers and plant ‘medicines’. Thus their plan is to develop something quite specific. As little literature exists, they have had to research thoroughly as well as using their own experience gained over the years with their design and development work here on Crete. They visited nurseries in Italy and Spain and gained much help and support from Olivier and Clara Filippi, owners of the well-known dry gardening nursery near Montpellier, France. They feel that they gained much information and professional advice, especially regarding the technical parts of the greenhouse, substrates, irrigation matters and general know-how.
In the chosen greenhouse it is possible to open all the windows for good aeration; it has automatic irrigation (mist system), but Annika and Stelios expect to do much watering by hand. Plant material will be from their own show garden and from the wild.
The prospective plant list had been sent in advance to all those attending this event, showing the first plant species we would like to start using. Annika went through this in some detail, for example describing the colour, height and flowering times of different cistuses. Since many plants in Crete flower mainly in spring, they also want to use drought-tolerant plants that are attractive in summer and some alternative plants for lawns. Lavenders were also discussed, although most lavenders prefer cooler climates than ours, except Lavandula × heterophylla (syn. Lavandula allardii)and L. dentata. However, they have had success with others from their experience on rockery slopes, so these will be developed too. Typical Cretan species such as Ebenus cretica, Euphorbia spp., Crithmum maritimum and Carlina diae are just a few which are planned.
Open discussion followed in which Annika asked: What plants from our list do you prefer? Which plants are you most interested in (from our list but also others) and in general what is important for you? What do you miss in the Apokoronas region and do you have any further suggestions for us?
After thanking them for their hospitality and very informative presentation, we enjoyed light refreshments and drinks, continuing our discussion and enjoying glorious sunshine. Two days previously we had had torrential rain and flooding, so much so that their newly gravelled driveway was partly washed away.
Annika and Stelios were delighted with our interest in what they are planning to develop and expressed the hope that this was a good sign and that ‘our little native plant nursery project will work well.’
We wish them every success. They follow concepts which are very much part of the MGS’s ideals.
An illustrated talk by Manoj Malde: Beneath a Mexican Sky, a Silver Gilt design winning garden in the Fresh Gardens category at the Chelsea Flower Show 2017
Several of us had eagerly visited the Chelsea Flower Show in May to see ‘Beneath a Mexican Sky’ and to give support to Manoj, a member of the MGS here on Crete. All were keen to celebrate his success as he told us about the planning, sourcing and execution of his Fresh Garden and to hear all about this intriguing design. We were joined by others, who, although they had not seen the garden, were equally interested to learn all about the project.
In providing the background to his garden design, Manoj talked about the influence of the talented Mexican architect Luis Barragán and how he had been drawn to his work through Barragán’s dramatic use of colour, for example, large stucco-rendered walls painted in clashing colours. Also, being of Indian ancestry and having been born in Kenya, Manoj particularly remembers his mother’s flamboyantly-coloured saris; he believes it is no wonder he always gets drawn to colour.
Manoj described Beneath a Mexican Sky as an homage to Barragán’s work. A large courtyard area is intended as an ‘inviting and calm space. Barragán’s signature colour-washed walls in clementine, coral and cappuccino provide dramatic backdrops to the planting scheme. Zinc micro-cement steps floating across a large aquamarine pool often seen in Barragán’s work. He loved horses and often created a pool for them to cool off in. The spirit of the horse is included within the garden through a copper wire sculpture by Rupert Till.’ (From the promotion brochure.)
Since he graduated from the English Gardening School, it had been Manoj’s ambition to create a garden at the Chelsea Flower show. Having gained inspiration, the journey towards completing the garden started in October 2015 with the aim of producing something new with fresh ideas, hence the Fresh Garden category. Having gained experience on the planting team in 2016 with Nick Bailey’s, Beauty of Mathematics Garden (see the article about this by scrolling down to September 2016), he felt ready to take on the challenge to create a garden of his own.
Thus the story began. Manoj described various stages: from producing doodles, a mood board of ideas and research developed into a small sketch on A4 paper. We learned how he found a contractor for the building work and made his choice of nursery; we heard too of various trials and tribulations, and of how sponsorship was gained before he could make his submission to the Royal Horticultural Society in July 2016 with some confidence now that he had a sponsor, contractor and nursery on board. Then, once the submission was in, he had a ‘long agonising wait’.
We learned that there are two judging stages for entries. One was in August, with feedback provided in September before the final judging took place. On October 6th Manoj received an email inviting him to build his garden at the Chelsea Flower Show in May 2017.
Manoj explained that the plans submitted were necessarily fluid, requiring a preliminary plant list but not set in stone at this stage. The hard structure is designed, but the planting plans are suggestions only to allow for flexibility, apart from structural plants such as trees and important large shrubs. However, the theme promoted the use of ‘drought-tolerant plants that merge mediterranean style with country cottage planting.’ The garden was designed around two mature multi-stemmed Arbutus unedo (strawberry) trees to provide structure. Agaves provide strong features softened by herbaceous planting.
Submission accepted, the garden’s allocated space measured ten by six metres and was to be produced on a tight budget. Manoj stated that ‘Now the real work started.’
The next section of the talk was particularly interesting, with fascinating photographs to illustrate various stages of the development of the project. Manoj will be repeating his talk in January 2018 for members and friends who were unable to come on this occasion. The rest of this story covering how the garden was finally developed will wait until then.
A ‘bring and share’ supper on a Mexican theme completed the evening in the convivial surroundings of Pam and Geoff’s lovely terrace. With thanks, as always, for their hospitality.
Text by Valerie Whittington
ANNUALS and BIENNIALS
CACTI and SUCCULENTS
My own succulents really suffered from the inclement weather this winter, including heavy snow which was half a metre deep in my village, followed by abundant rain. Many succulents, particularly Agave attenuata and aeoniums, were affected and still look battered. Three Euphorbia tirucalli, one a metre and a half high, did not survive. As a result, I thought many of us would benefit from a workshop which looked at various aspects of growing succulents in our climate as well as their maintenance. Rosemary Thomas agreed to share her experience and knowledge of these plants; we also enjoyed the wonderful collection in her garden.
After a welcome drink on this very warm morning, Rosemary showed us around her special courtyard garden. Surrounding the house, it enjoys a good balance of sun and shade throughout the day with especially created shady spots and suits her prime specimens well, whether planted in the ground or displayed in a myriad of interesting pots.
Open views to the sea on one side backed by a very high wall at the back provide both shade and protection as well as the opportunity to hang or display items on the wall of the house or boundary.
The workshop following our information-packed tour of the garden included:
This splendid session was rounded off by a convivial lunch in the local village taverna where we were joined by several of our partners. Rosemary was presented with a gift token from a garden centre as a thank you from the participants.
Rosemary’s garden was also visited in December 2013, scroll down this webpage to read and see other photographs from that visit.
Text and photographs by Valerie Whittington
The walk was a relatively easy, enjoyable stroll as we walked down into the valley with lovely views of the mountains in the distance, with a fairly steep, although short, hill on our return. The surrounding countryside was green and lush with plenty of wild flowers to enjoy on the way.
Given the high rainfall and snow during the winter, spring had arrived late this year making predictability of wild flowers uncertain. The actual date of our planned walk had to be confirmed at short notice. Sarah had been monitoring the alliums in bud, and trying to predict when they would actually flower was tricky, but our eventual choice of Friday 28th proved perfect.
We were not to be disappointed. Off the main track, we followed one of the old donkey tracks a short way. Sara had had to come along with secateurs earlier in the week to ensure we could pass by more easily as it was there was a short scramble over a few rocks and into the field closed off by plegma (wired fence). Thank goodness for the plegma as an absolute feast for our eyes awaited us rather than lunch for marauding sheep or goats.
The outlying part of the field was a beautiful, colourful mix of gladioli, smyrnium and alliums with the reward of our walk beyond. It was stunning.
Jam-packed together, the stately alliums (Allium nigrum) in all their glory with buds open wide to greet us. We were thrilled.
Highly satisfied and after much clicking of individual cameras, we set off on our return to visit Jan and Vangelis’ garden in Kefalas. This totally different Mediterranean garden made a fascinating addition to seeing the alliums.
Vangelis is responsible for the 'Welcome to Kefalas' monument as you approach the village from Xerosterni. Their garden is a unique testament to Vangelis’ creativity with stone.
On arrival, we were greeted enthusiastically by Jan and Vangelis; they were pleased that we were interested in visiting their unique garden. After a brief welcome and introduction to the garden we were able to wander and explore at will.
The house was built in 1995 but the garden was developed over the last ten years after Jan and Vangelis married. It is called Jan’s House. For ten years of his life Vangelis had been a hermit making his home in a cave by the sea. He proudly showed us photographs of the home he had made within the cave complete with bedroom, living area and kitchen, all with home-made furniture. A few years ago I had the privilege of visiting the cave which is only accessible by boat and a short swim and had always wanted to peep inside this garden.
Jan and Vangelis described how, bit by bit, the garden has developed. Jan was occasionally irritated because more and more of her vegetable garden was taken over by Vangelis’ structures. She now has a very beautifully designed raised bed complete with mosaic pebbled walls.
Pots are integrated into paths or walls, sometimes planted with flowers or exotic shells.
Made to feel very much at home, we enjoyed real Cretan hospitality under the shade of their pergola with raki and biscuits.
This was a fascinating garden to visit and a privilege. With grateful thanks to Sara for arranging the walk and garden visit and to Jan and Vangelis for sharing their ‘treasure’ with us.
Text and photographs by Valerie Whittington apart from those credited to Sara Gilding.
This interesting event was held at Pam and Geoff Dunn’s house, Douliana, Apokoronas in February. Six members from Crete visited South Africa on the MGS trip in the latter part of 2016. Twenty-four very different gardens and landscapes were visited, including important botanical gardens, community endeavours and several private gardens. This was an excellent joint presentation by Pam Dunn, Bob Lyle and Valerie Whittington.
All had slightly different perspectives and their reports were based on what had appealed to them most. The photographs shown covered a full range of all we saw and were most impressive. First, Val Whittington gave an overview, putting some context to the whole trip. Pam Dunn talked about the flowers she had particularly liked and Bob and Jill Lyle concentrated on the wild flowers we had seen. I particularly enjoyed being reminded of some of the wonderful things we saw.
This was received with great enthusiasm and followed by a delicious bring-and-share lunch.
For a full account of our visit to South Africa, please refer to TMG 88, April 2017, or the MGS website with photographs, where part one of Val’s report is published. Part two will feature in TMG 89, July 2017.
Text by Clive Whittington, photographs by Valerie Whittington
Valerie retired with her husband, Clive, to live full-time in Crete in 2005, having had a holiday home here since 2000. Their house is built on an exposed, windswept hillside with cold harsh winds in winter and severe, hot, desiccating ones in the heat of summer; this hillside was previously home only to goats.
Gardening is Valerie’s passion and, with little previous experience of plants of the mediterranean, she is developing a garden which is in keeping with the landscape, which attempts to be waterwise and where new plants coexist with the original flora.
Valerie originally wrote the following article about her garden for The Mediterranean Garden, No. 63.
Designing and working with the natural landscape on a windswept, rocky hillside in Crete.
Fourteen lorry loads of ‘top soil’ covered this section BUT rains came early and much was washed away before I was able to plant anything. This is clay soil, which is very poor. Erosion is a continuing problem.
My aims are:
When it came to planning and design:
So what are the key factors in achieving my aims?
So where am I now?