|Mediterranean Garden Society|
The Greek Branch of the MGS
Our group met on Monday, 2 October at the Attiko Fytoriako Parko in Vari at 11.00. We were welcomed into a magical world of trees, shrubs and plants, spanning 61 stremmata or roughly 15 acres, organised like a botanical garden with love and much thought. Only 11 dedicated and very hard-working people run and maintain this extraordinary achievement, which includes a nursery open to the public, a market garden, in addition to the eighty themed sections or modules outlined in the leaflet, and a Ministry-approved educational department for school groups and student visits.
The Attica Nursery Plant Park, as it is called in English, is an interconnecting group of botanical gardens which houses and promotes human activities. The park comprises a varied landscape and the conversion of a large nursery into a botanical containing a great many common species as well as some rare collector’s species of the plant world.
The eighty themed plant modules are part of the environmental education offered by the Park. These include, among others, the indigenous plants of Hymettos, plants for local gardens, herbs and pharmaceutical plants, poisonous plants, a cactus garden, subtropical plants, plants for honey bees, pharmaceutical aloes, shade-loving plants, bonsai plants, paper- and fabric-producing plants, windbreak plants etc.
Thanos Vaiopoulos, the owner, spoke for a brief 45 minutes and could have continued all day, as far as I am concerned. He spoke to us in the ‘Biblical Garden’ surrounded by trees, shrubs and plants which are mentioned in the Bible and the Koran. He painstakingly outlined why each of these was present and why they had survived the test of time for Mediterranean people.
He listed, among others, the following trees: olive, fig, mulberry (which needs neither sugar nor preservatives to remain an edible jam), carob (animal feed), Laurus nobilis (he mentioned that Sunday ‘των Βαϊων’ in Greek Easter celebrations was probably actually celebrated with palm fronds as on Palm Sunday), cypress (trunks used as masts for fishing boats), pepper trees (Schinus molle), and henna: the Koran mentions an additional species of henna tree, the others being identical to those referred to in the Bible.
He mentioned aromatics and herbs for their nutritional, medicinal and culinary use and spoke of the importance of supporting the ecosystem by avoiding pesticides and herbicides at all costs, as well as describing a 90-minute trail through the hill above the park in which to observe indigenous plants and shrubs. He also discussed longevity and health in direct relation to activities and nutrition and he expressed concern about climate changes which had an apple tree fruiting on August 1st and wild cyclamen growing in September on a trail where they normally flower in January and February.
Again, thank you, Christina, and thank you, Thanos!
Text and photos by Lilian Lorenz
Christina Lambert – Greek branch head writes