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Sparoza: A Winter Note

by Sally Razelou

2004 is upon us – a walk at dawn on New Year's Day was glorious. There was no wind. There was no sound of traffic from the Attic road. The night's rain was still soaking into the earth. Thick white low-lying mist lay across the plain of the Messogeio. Apocalyptic cloud formations were playing a soundless opera in the sky. As we turned back to the east along the ridge of the hill, the rising, blinding sun lit up each tiny bead of moisture on the vegetation – each drop became bright with light. The wet stones glistened. The puddles on the pathways shone like looking-glasses. Walking down the hillside garden to the house the anemones and narcissi were shaking their petals open to the sunshine. The early winter's morning was an excursion into paradise.

The garden is lovely in the winter – so many bulbous plants are in flower at this time. Two huge-leaved rosettes of the mandrake, Mandragora autumnalis have crowded centres of blue flowers. The other two plants at Sparoza come later. Their rosettes are much flatter. I am not sure whether they are M. officinarum or just variants of M. autumnalis. The Iris unguicularis ssp. cretensis are in flower all over the garden. Curiously some are sweetly scented. Pure white is the Naricssus papyraceus which comes into flower in December, its sweet-scented blooms are a joy in winter and its flowers light up the hillside. This hillside was 'hoovered' by hand before Christmas - a delightful occupation undertaken by the resident gardener and her two volunteers. The dead Phlomis fruticosa bushes have finally been cleared away as well.

Volunteers? Yes, on Thursday mornings whenever possible Davina Michaelides and Ruth Standring arrive at ten o'clock and work until two o'clock – it is such a benefit to me as the young man who came out in October did not stay and I have no help at the moment. If any member feels inclined to join this workforce, do come along.
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