Sunday, 13 September 2015

Gardening in a Greek Village

Gardening in a Greek Village
 Mediterranean Gardening

I have needed to learn about Mediterranean gardening in a couple of previous gardens and with global warming arriving fast even my garden in Melbourne started drying up. I’ve found Mediterranean plants useful Adelaide, and in Lock Sport (a holiday home built on a sand spit). And I came across Trevor Nottle’s book, Gardening in the Sun and Jaqueline Tyrwhitt’s book Making a Garden on a Greek Hillside.

Dream Med. Gardens

There are many books about ‘Dream Med. Gardens’, in France and in Italy. These gardens are often started by British expats, with money, around large houses. There are some who do something similar in Greece. Today for instance the landscape gardener Thomas Dociadis, builds modern stone houses surrounded by the local landscape.

My Med. Garden

It was a dream of mine to have a Med. Garden, and I’ve written before about how my husband and I ‘retired’ and took up the project to renovate his grandfather’s old summer holiday house In Lemnos.

We only have a block of 1200 square meters (300 used by house and outbuildings) When we arrived the land was empty, with a collapsing 100yr old family house in one corner and two ruined outbuildings.

I was much helped by joining the Med. Garden Society and reading their journals, and by obtaining and reading Heidi Gildemeister book about Mediterranean Gardens, including ‘home gardens’.

Hopes and Limits

I wanted to make a practical (and beautiful) garden, within the limits by the island, and the village around us.

What I want to emphasize is that all gardens are different, in situation and location, in climate and soil, and style, even when each is in the Med.

Situation Lemnos

The island of Lemnos is in the Aegean. Our house is a village house; two roads surround it, with other houses behind us and looking down on us, and other houses in front and beside us.

The island is in the same latitude as Rome and Barcelona
It is an old volcanic island and the 8th largest Greek island. It has few tourists, (Jason’s 1st stopover, and where the Anzaca gathered)

Winter winds come from Russia, and include snow; summer winds come from Egypt and are dry. There can be 4 months with no rain
Many centuries of surviving this weather plus fires, goats and sheep have result in typical Mediterranean Maquis  - Survival Vegetation

The hill tops are bare and a few trees in the valleys, e.g. Holm oaks, old mulberry, albizia,
On the hills there is plenty of thyme and oregano, and along roadsides, euphorbia, daisies, hemlock

Planted in my Garden

Found on site
Olive, almond, bitter orange, fig,

Collected from roadsides
Euphorbia, hemlock, daffodil lilies, oleander

Given by neighbours
Honeysuckle, rosemary, bay, Iris, cannas, pampas grass, jasmine, basil, pittosporum, Virginia creeper, lilac, pelargonium, grapes,

Fennel, marigolds, pokeweek, zinnias, nasturtiums, alyssum, chamomile, bindweed,

Pomegranate, pine, box, rose, bougainvillea, citrus, agapanthus, bottlebrush, lantana, gaura, wisteria, yucca, fan palm, agave,

But Basically a Practical Village Garden

We always harvest beans, onions, garlic, zucchini, peppers, tomoatoes.

Plus a variety of herbs.
And from the fruit trees, oranges, lemons, apricots, figs, and pear, with just a few apples. (I’m encouraging another plum tree, and a mulberry)

Takis makes marmalade from the bitter oranges and I make a lemon and fig jam, plus when we harvest buckets full of peppers and tomatoes and onions I make jars and jars of sauce. All very useful to feed our many guests.


Losing plants because of heat, and cold.
Plus sudden unexplained losses.
Working with Anestis using sign language!
Not being there full time in time to sow seeds or to care for the newly planted.

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