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The President's Letter
An excerpt from The Mediterranean Garden - No. 11   Winter 1997/8

Thanks to the Journal, I have accompanied the MGS's miraculous progress and seen how carefully business is handled by all involved. Although the presidency will rotate from country to country, day to day administration will continue in Greece. We are lucky that Sally Razelou, the former President, will continue to live at Sparoza, the home of the MGS, where her enthusiastic dedication to the cause of the MGS will continue. Caroline Harbouri ought to be thanked for each carefully produced journal, embellished by Derek Toms' admirable drawings. From Barbara Diamantides, the Secretary, I have just heard that the Society has rounded the cape of 600 members, some of whom are actively shaping the MGS and its future.

Duncan Avery and Hamish Warren continue to provide a valuable personalized service to members who do not have access to a Plantfinder. They will be pleased to let you know where to find the plants you require (see [the journal, The Mediterranean Garden] No. 9, p.46 [A Database of Plant Nurseries for MGS Members]).

Derrick Donnison-Morgan generously offers to place his time at the service of the MGS and is currently arranging for a Seed Exchange between members. He will put forward his ideas in the Spring issue of the journal.

Personally, I see it as a priority to work towards string local groups in all countries around the Mediterranean (why not all countries with a Mediterranean climate? I hear you ask), which is entirely in the hands of the members. Such groups would have programmes and newsletters in their own language (in addition to receiving the journal), but would always liaise with the central MGS. Sally, for example,plans to continue giving her attention to the ever-growing Greek Local Group. In other countries, all depends un members' willingness to get involved. Joanna Millar has already outlined a few ideas for the French Local Group, although at the time she had one foot in the plane on her way to India. Interest in a Spanish Group has been expressed by a range of experienced Spanish gardeners, while Joan Tesei, at La Landriana has promised to share her expertise with the Italian Group. If you have any suggestions for such groups, please do not tuck them under your pillow, but let me know about them. They ay be just what is needed to get a stone rolling.

Once Dana Zangas, our 'minister of finance', feels that the expense of a printed Membership Directory is within the MGS's possibilities, members can look forward to a copy. Those who already require their countries membership list as a tool for setting up a local group should write to the Secretary.
     
Day excursions to wild flower sites will be part of the local groups' activities and will promote interest in and knowledge of the colourful native Mediterranean plants. In Greece such excursions have been taking place for some time and John Rendall proposes a short weekend in Monemvasia in April.May 1998 (accommodation in the old castro, reasonable fee). The well-known French horticulturist Olivier Filippi has promised to lead members to a site where Cistus hybridize. Look for particulars in the Spring issue.
     
Besides organizing an exchange of plants, a lecture or a visit to a member's garden, it will be in the hands of enterprising and creative Local Groups to represent the MGS at garden fairs such as La Landriana near Rome or Courson near Paris. The MGS has already been offered a free stand. Both events are of outstanding quality and a wonderful opportunity for members to show their own achievements, see what other propose or simply meet like-minded gardeners.
     
During the 1997 AGM at Sparoza, an invitation arrived for the MGS to participate in the BBC Gardeners' World Live in Birmingham (10-14 June 1998). A prominent UK member was consulted who thought this a gift from heaven. The MGS has over 80 UK members, many of whom might enjoy participating in this fascinating event and making known to a wide public the MGS and its aims: conservation of native plants, water and soil, as well as education. A stand of around 15sq.m. has generously been offered. Manning it over a week will give many members the opportunity to participate. Members from the Mediterranean would give that 'Mediterranean touch' and may want to plant their next visit to the UK accordingly. Will you let the MGS Secretary or myself know at the earliest is you are able to generously offer your help, even if it is part-time of tentative? No expertise is required - only what we all share: enthusiasm for Mediterranean gardening matters.
     
Short features on current research could be included in the future Journals. If we are lucky, somebody will see to this. In the meantime, why not send in any material that comes your way? It can be copied from journals or newspapers, but has to state the source and the date. Since most gardeners today drift away from chemicals, best provide information which is in line with today's ecological insights.
     
I would also, the in the future, wish to involve children (a children's page?). Children with gardenwise parents usually have their small plot and may want to let participate in their exciting experiences or theirs may be an inspiring school garden.
     
The word 'Mediterranean' is in everyone's mouth, but who actually knows what it means? One facet, however, seems to be certain: times are gone when gushing sprinklers distributed water evenly over a colourful expanse. With water getting scarcer and more expensive by the year, today's Mediterranean gardeners investigate how to garden in harmony with the Mediterranean climate, with its humid winters and long dry summers, by exploring the landscaping potential of the Mediterranean native flora. They can create new garden styles, using plants which like the terrain they are intended for. Such gardeners may want to let others know how they manage to achieve harmony with the local landscape and conserve the world's most vital resource - water. A few failures are invariably part of it. Among the Society's members will be experienced ones, to encourage and support those who feel that conditions are difficult and harsh - and let them see that 'there is always a way'.
     
I thank those who dedicate themselves - or will do so in future - to the well-being of the Society and I wish all HAPPY GARDENING.

Heidi Gildemeister.

 

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