Mediterranean Garden Society

The 2022 Annual General Meeting - Programme of Events

The photograph at the top of this page shows a garden designed by Jennifer Gay, keynote speaker at the AGM (Photo Jennifer Gay)

Thursday 17 November
7.30 pm - 10.30 pm: The main AGM programme will begin with registration and a welcome reception held at a central Athens venue (to be advised).

A view looking west to Sparoza and Mount Hymettos in an evening in November, with Drimia maritima growing wild in the foreground (Photo Lucinda Willan)

Friday 18 November
8.45 am: The coaches will pick us up at one of these two meeting points:

We then drive to Peania where we start the day with a visit to the MGS garden at Sparoza - the spiritual heart of the MGS – and join Lucie Willan, Head Gardener, and some of the volunteers for a guided tour followed by refreshments in the house. It will be a wonderful opportunity to see the work which has taken place at Sparoza since Lucie began her tenure and, at this November date, we would hope the autumn rains would have had good effect on the garden and the Greek wildflowers which are an integral part of the garden. 

Maps of Sparoza showing the name and location of every plant can be found here where they can be viewed online or downloaded in pdf format. Bring your smart phone!

Vorres museum

Our next destination is the Vorres Museum, also in Peania, where we shall have a guided tour of the gallery which features an outstanding collection of modern Greek art works; we shall also enjoy two reconstructed village houses displaying antiques and household objects from various parts of Greece, spanning 2500 years of history, as well as a number of beautiful courtyard gardens. With the current President of the Foundation, Nektarios Vorres, grandson of the Museum’s founder Ion Vorres, we shall also explore the new dry garden which many MGS members were privileged to visit at the 2019 AGM before it opened to the general public. We’ll also enjoy a delicious buffet lunch of Greek foods contributing to a memorable day.

A garden in Greece designed by keynote speaker Jennifer Gay

7.30 pm: Well-known garden designer Jennifer Gay (biography) will give a talk at the Ionic Centre, 11 Lysiou Street, Plaka. 

Following the talk, the rest of the evening will be free for you to explore the heart of Athens and enjoy its atmosphere. We shall be recommending a few of the many traditional tavernas and places to enjoy a drink and watch the world go by.

Philodassiki - aerial view of Monastery

Saturday 19 November
8.45 am: The coaches will pick participants up at one of the two meeting points for the drive to the Philodasiki Botanical Gardens and Nursery at Kaisariani on Mount Hymettos. The Philodasiki Society, Friends of the Trees, was founded in 1904 with a mission to reforest the mountain and today some 500 hectares of native trees reflect the success of this mission. The society has also developed an 8000-square-metre botanical garden featuring hundreds of species of plants indigenous to southern and central Greece, the Aegean islands and Crete. In 1994 the European Union designated the garden and adjacent 11th-century monastery (built on the site of an ancient sanctuary) one of the 58 most important Historic Gardens and Architectural Monuments in Europe.  Our tour will be led by Sophia Stathatou and Nikos Pangas along pathways which follow the contours of the hill, revealing areas planted with the charm of a wild garden but filled with botanical interest.

Philodassiki Botanical Garden

Lunch will follow at the traditional Telis Taverna, opposite the Penteli Monastery, offering a delicious array of fresh seasonal Greek foods

Courtyard garden at Drafi 

In the afternoon we shall visit the private garden of Eleni Martinou at Drafi in the foothills of Mount Penteli which displays a harmonious blend of hard landscaping by the architect and artist Charles Shoup and a superb choice of plants by Eleni. Wide stone staircases lead from the house into seemingly endless series of walled gardens that reflect diverse Mediterranean features. Water is plentiful and at every turn are distant views to pull visitors further into the outer reaches of the garden which covers some 3.5 hectares.

The evening will be free with recommendations once again for restaurants in Athens.

Sunday 20 November
10am - 2.00pm: The General Assembly will be held in the auditorium of the Ionic Cultural Centre, 11 Lysiou Street, Plaka. During the Assembly the election of the next Administrative Committee for the following three-year period will take place and we shall also be voting on amendments to the MGS Charter provided that a large enough number of members have agreed that this item should be included in the Agenda.

8.00 pm: The Athens programme will end with a farewell dinner at Café Avissinia, Kinetou 7, Monastiraki with a fantastic range of traditional Greek food and views to the Acropolis. 

Cost and accommodation
There is a 40 euro registration fee non-refundable in case of cancellation.

For the main AGM programme the cost per person will be 300 euros not including accommodation. Local members are warmly encouraged to join the Welcome Reception, the visits on Friday and Saturday and the Farewell Dinner at Café Avissinia (adjusted costs to cover individual choices).

For details of accommodation in Athens there is a list of hotels given below or contact Patricia Kakounis, Align Events and Travel, info@aligneventstravel.gr, telephone +30 210614 1745 (landline), +30 6948 872 111 (mobile).  Please note that Athens is an extremely popular tourist destination once again and it is highly recommended that you book your accommodation as soon as possible. Participants are recommended to stay at hotels in the centre of Athens close to the Acropolis and within walking distance of the Ionic Centre, the Welcome Reception, the Farewell Dinner and the pick-up points for coaches. The venues are also accessible by taxi.

Please note:  the pick-up points for the coaches will be:

  • At the corner of Filellinon Street and Navarchou Nikodimou Street in Syntagma
  • At the Melina Mercouri Monument, 54 Leoforos Vasilissis Amalias Avenue in Plaka

Registration is now open. To book your place at the AGM and on the tours in the programme click here.

Caroline Davies is hosting her last AGM as President in Athens and very much hopes to catch up with the many friends she has made over the past six years. Please contact her on cdgt@netspace.net.au if you have any questions about the programme she has put together with the help of Jill Yakas, Janet Harley and Patricia Kakounis.

The hotels listed below are all located near to the 1st COACH Pick up / Drop off Point on the corner of PHILLELINON and N. NIKODIMOU Streets, Athens. They are also a 2-to-10-minute walk from the Ionic Centre and the Café Avissinia, venue for the Farewell Dinner.

The hotels listed below are all located near to the 2nd COACH Pick up / Drop off Point on the corner of MELINA MEKOURI MONUMENT - 54 Vasilissis Sofias Avenue, Plaka. They are also a 2-to-15-minute walk from the Ionic Centre and the Café Avissinia, venue for the Farewell Dinner.

About Jennifer Gay: Jennifer has lived and worked in the Mediterranean Basin for over twenty years. She studied Ecology and Geography at degree level, followed by an MA in Landscape Design at the University of Sheffield. She started her career as a landscape architect in the south of England, but her desire to work more closely with plants, preferably out in the elements, led her to the student gardening programme at the Royal Horticultural Society’s garden, Rosemoor, in North Devon.

Jennifer Gay

A one-year scholarship at the Botanical Garden in Jerusalem followed and there began the Mediterranean Gardening chapter of her life from which she has so far not looked back. Jennifer continued to live in Jerusalem for another two years, working as a gardener and landscape designer at both the Jerusalem and the Jericho Botanical Gardens as well as in private gardens.

The turn of the Millenium saw Jennifer become Sally Razelou’s first gardening assistant at Sparoza until the summer of 2001. She then spent three years guiding the development of a new botanical garden on the island of Cephalonia, Greece. She was garden columnist for the English weekly newspaper, The Athens News from 2000 until its demise in 2012. Her book Greece: Garden of the Gods was published in July 2004.

Since 2005, Jennifer has been designing, making and maintaining gardens throughout Greece, but mainly in the Ionian and Aegean islands. Her talk will invite us to share in her Mediterranean Gardening odyssey and some of the things she has discovered on the way.


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