|Mediterranean Garden Society|
MGS Invades the Peloponnese
by Barbara Diamantidesphotographs by Barbara Diamantides (BD), Maria Koechel (MK), Brian Constable (BC), Davina Michaelides (VM) and Karin Fichter (KF).
Following the 2007 AGM in Athens a group set off for the Peloponnese led by George and Chrysanthi Sfikas.
We took coffee in Isthmia beside the Corinth Canal and watched in delight as the road bridge was winched down, disappearing completely beneath the water to allow a ship to pass. We consumed more coffee in the 17th-century Kapetanakos Tower in Areopolis and saw the restored bakery there. The next morning found us searching for coffee in Monemvasia, an ancient town founded by the Laconians who arrived there in the 6th century AD and who presumably enjoyed no such perks! We enjoyed regional specialities in traditional tavernas at Mystras in the foothills of Mt Taygetos and by the sea at the bay of Gerakas. We had expected to see the effects of the fires and, sadly, we saw plenty.
With so many botanists and plantsmen on board it was a wonderful opportunity to add to our knowledge. There was a lot of interest in the plants sprouting on the hillsides after the summer drought, such as the fat leaves of Urginea maritima growing into the good luck symbols sold bygypsies at the New Year with theirbulbs wrapped in silver paper and tied with a red ribbon. We learned to differentiate between Sarcopoterium spinosum and Euphorbia acanthothamnos. Wesaw Sternbergia sicula carpeting a hillside, Prospero autumnale (syn. Scilla autumnalis), Colchicum cupanii and C. psaridis (the latter a Peloponnesian endemic), Cyclamen graecum and C. hederifolium, Crocus boryi, C. goulimyi, C. niveus, C. cancellatus and C. cancellatus ssp. mazziaricus, C. biflorus ssp. melantherus, a Peloponnesian endemic as is Allium callimischon subsp. callimischon, Arisarum vulgare, Anemone pavonina, an orchid, Spiranthes spiralis,and Nepeta cataria.
In the wetland area of the bay of Geraka we were lucky enough to see a kingfisher (Alcedo atthis), a grey heron (Ardea cinerea), a white egret (Egretta alba), a black redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros), a kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) and other birds of prey.
Traudi's garden in Kyparissia was fascinating because of the unusual plants growing in the tropical mini-climate she has created. Frangipani (Plumeria acuminata), Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia reginae), huge bushes of hibiscus covered with pink or red flowers, Malvaviscus arboreus looking like a red hibiscus with closed petals, Orchid trees (Bauhinia monandra and B. galpinii), Parkinsonia aculeata, Guava (Psidium guajava), Kiwi fruit (Actinidia chinensis), Jacaranda (Jacaranda mimosifolia) and dozens of other trees and plants too numerous to mention and needing Traudi’s special touch.
(Brian Constable’s photographs from Traudi’s garden will appear later to illustrate a feature on her garden.)
We paused to pay homage to an ancient plane tree (Platanus orientalis) at the springs of Aghios Floros, which, we calculated, must have shed its leaves more than 1,500 times.
Compiled by Barbara Diamantides with help from Vina Michaelides, Maria Koechel, Barbara Jones, Karin Fichter and Alisdair Aird.