|Mediterranean Garden Society|
22nd Annual General Meeting
AGM Main Programme of Events
Thursday 20 October
Friday 21 October
There will be a morning guided visit to the Keramikos Cemetery, the ancient cemetery of Athens, featuring gravestones and tombs dating from antiquity, ancient walls of the city as well as vestiges of the Eridanos river, today a stream, and the flora and fauna supported by this water source. This is the only visible section of the Eridanos, one of the three rivers that once flowed through Athens; for the remainder of its course from its source at Mount Lycabettos it runs through underground channels.
Before lunch there will be a visit to the Philodassiki Botanical Garden and Nursery at Kaisariani. The Philodassiki Society, Friends of the Trees, was founded in 1904 with a mission to reforest the mountain of Hymettos. Today 446 hectares of native trees reflect the success of that mission. The society has also developed an 8,000-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
Lunch will be at a taverna in the Flisvos Marina
In the afternoon participants will have a guided tour of Philopappou Hill, also called the Hill of the Muses, and two adjacent hills, the Hill of the Pnyx and the Hill of the Nymphs, highlighting features of botanical and archaeological interest. This hilltop area facing the Acropolis was inhabited from prehistoric times to the post-Byzantine area. In addition to affording wonderful views of the Saronic Gulf and the Acropolis, these hills once supported the ancient suburbs of Koili and Meliti. Traces of the 5th-century BC city wall and the foundations of classical houses can still be seen. The Hill of the Pnyx was the site of the original open-air parliament of Athenian democracy where the great orators Pericles, Themistocles and Demosthenes addressed the people. The Church of Agios Dimitrios Loumbardiaris, dating to the 16th century, is known for its fine frescos. On the top of the Philopappou hill are the remains of the 2nd-century AD tomb monument of Gaius Julius Antiochus Epiphanes Philopappus, a prince of Commagene in what is today Turkey, after whom the hill is named. (His name is rather a mouthful, but the last part of it, Philopappus, rather charmingly means “one who loves his grandfather”.) Thanks to the work of architect Dimitris Pikionis, who laid out the pathways through trees and native shrubs in the 1950s, the site today is an oasis in the centre of the city. Pikionis’ paving is a work of art.
At 19:00 there will be a talk by Robin Lane Fox provisionally entitled ‘Kyrgyzstan: an unMediterranean flora?’ at the Ionic Centre in Plaka. Mr Lane Fox is an English classicist, ancient historian and gardening writer known for his books on Alexander the Great, Greek seafarers of the 8th century BC and Xenophon’s march of the ten thousand, among many other classical subjects. Lane Fox is an Emeritus Fellow of New College, Oxford and Reader in Ancient History, University of Oxford. Fellow and Tutor in Ancient History at New College from 1977 to 2014, he serves as Garden Master and as Extraordinary Lecturer in Ancient History for both New and Exeter Colleges. Lane Fox is also the gardening correspondent of the Financial Times. Subject matter for this talk will be generated in part by a trip Lane Fox plans to make on horseback through a remote area of Kyrgyzstan this summer. Local members are welcome to attend free of charge
The remainder of the evening will be free; see below for recommended restaurants.
Saturday 22 October
There will be a morning visit to the MGS garden at Sparoza where the custodian, Sally Razelou, and MGS volunteer gardeners will guide visitors through the garden and offer coffee and other refreshments.
Before lunch there will be a visit to the Vorres Museum featuring late 20th-century Greek paintings and sculpture as well as two reconstructed village houses displaying household objects from various parts of Greece spanning 2500 years of history. The 18,000-square-metre grounds of this private museum are especially spectacular.
Lunch will be served at the Vorres Museum.
In the afternoon there will be a choice of visits to one of two private gardens. The first garden, designed by Jennifer Gay and Piers Goldson, is located in Keratea in the Mesogeia Plain on a 4.5-acre plot in the dry and stony hills of south-east Attica. The landscape and vegetation here is characterized by undulating vine country, streaked with olive groves and dotted with sugarloaf hills. The owner of this garden is committed to the principles of waterwise gardening and the use of climate-appropriate plants. All the shrubs and perennials in this garden have been sourced from Olivier Filippi’s nursery near Montpellier in the South of France, where plants are grown in preparation for a life without summer water. The soil is prepared before planting to ensure good drainage and river sand is incorporated where necessary. This garden was designed with a master plan and has been in development for several years. Today visitors can see sections of mature plantings as well as newly installed areas.
The second garden, designed by the owner with hardscapes by the American architect and artist Charles Shoup, is located in Drafi on an 8.5-acre plot of land on the footslopes of Mount Pendeli with a view south across the Mesogeia plain. The plants are mostly mediterranean-climate plants sourced by the owner from around the world and propagated from seeds collected in Greece. In addition to a great variety of plants and trees and the meticulously crafted hardscapes, there are several water features in the garden adding to the sensory richness of the place. The garden was developed and planted over a ten-year period that ended in 2001. By now it has matured and evolved. Those who have made previous visits to the garden will no doubt see something new as the owner has shifted focus slightly to produce food crops which are shared with family, friends and local food banks.
The evening will be free; see below for recommended restaurants.
Sunday 23 October
The General Assembly will start at 10:00 at the Ionic Centre in Plaka. This Neoclassical building is located in the heart of Plaka, the oldest part of modern Athens and a neighbourhood that has been continuously inhabited since antiquity.
A Farewell Dinner will be held at 20:00 in a taverna in the historic centre of Athens.
AGM Main Programme of Events – Cost and Important Information
Local members are invited to join the Welcome Reception on Thursday 20 October, the Vorres Museum visit and lunch on Saturday 22 October and the Farewell Dinner following the General Assembly on the evening of Sunday 23 October. Contact Vivien Psaropoulou for prices and to book.
Please note that the optional Post-AGM Tour in Corfu must be booked and paid for separately from the AGM Programme of Events. Please go to the Optional Tour page.
Members may wish to employ the professional organiser to book a hotel on their behalf.
Recommended Hotels - click to see map with locations
Indicative prices for most of the recommended hotels can be found by entering check-in/check-out dates at booking.com. Search under ‘Athens’ then ‘Athens City Centre’.
High price range
The New Hotel
Electra Palace Hotel
Medium price range
Lower price range
Hotel Acropolis House
Suggested Restaurants and Tavernas - click to see map with locations
Acropolis Museum Restaurant
Attikos Greek House
Avocado (exclusively vegetarian)