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From the President: Halcyon Days

by Cali Doxiadis
photographs by Cali Doxiadis
drawing by Derek Toms

For the full article see The Mediterranean Garden No 48, April 2007.

Cali Doxiadis writes:

“The phrase ‘halcyon days’ has a different meaning in Greek from the common English one of everyday speech. It does not refer to the happy, peaceful days of a distant and probably fictitious past/youth, but is how we describe the week or two of mild sunny winter days when the light is dazzling, the breeze caressing, and clarity extends to distant, otherwise invisible, islands or mountains.”

“This winter the halcyon days in Greece and most of Italy and Spain as well as Southern France have, with few short interruptions, stretched out through most of the winter.... We’ve had a succession of glorious warm sunny days made to be spent outdoors – ideal gardening days, one would say. Yet even as we say it we realise we’re expressing the great paradox of gardening in the mediterranean climate, since the other, dark, side of the sunny days is catastrophic winter drought. Our plants depend on the water they get in winter in order to remain healthy throughout the summer.”

“Our mixed feelings reflecting these conflicting interests are part and parcel of gardening in mediterranean areas. They have been made even more relevant this winter in Southern Europe with the extended warm temperatures, in the coastal regions of California with unprecedented frost, and in Southern Australia with the terrible drought. All have been explained as manifestations of global warming.... One would hope that it is forcing us also to look beyond our garden wall, at the world our children and grandchildren will inherit.

Cali Doxiadis’s article in TMG no. 48 is illustrated by the Kingfisher called alcyóni in Greek being named for Halcyone who in Greek mythology was turned into the bird. The drawing is by Derek Toms (1943-2003) who could be described as the Mediterranean Garden Society's founding father since he was the first to conceive the need for a forum for mediterranean gardeners to exchange information and experiences. The MGS journal is his creation and its early issues were illustrated almost exclusively with his delicate drawings. For more about Derek Toms, see TMG no. 33, dedicated to his memory. The drawing is reproduced from Making a garden on a Greek Hillside by Jaqueline Tyrwhitt with the permission of the publisher.
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