Mediterranean Garden Society
The Peloponnese Branch of the MGS
The Peloponnese Branch consists of members from several countries, most of whom have homes in the area, though some just like to visit. They range from those with little horticultural knowledge, to others with professional expertise, but what they all share is an enthusiasm for gardens, and the flowers and landscapes of Greece.
The Peloponnese, in common with most of Greece, does not have a tradition of ornamental gardening, or garden design. Instead, most of the horticultural activity revolves around farming and agriculture. We can, however, benefit from the rich archaeological heritage of the area, and the extreme contrasts of its landscape, to view plants as nature intended.
Since our members are spread across the Peloponnese, we try to arrange events in different areas, to enable as many as possible to participate. Events have included visits to orchards, wineries and archaeological sites, lectures, wildflower walks and, of course, garden visits. Needless to say that, as often as possible, we like to combine these activities with good food and drink!
The photo at the top of this page shows a view of Katerina Georgi’s own garden (Photo: Katerina Georgi)
To read about the events that the Peloponnese Branch has organised in the past click here (archived version in non-responsive format).
October 2023 - Agia Sophia & Proastio
Fifteen MGS members, together with their guests, gathered at the garden of Katerina Georgi on a Sunday morning. The garden is situated on the lower edge of the village of Ag. Sophia at an altitude of 200 metres. It has a fine view of the church of Ag. Sophia, the sea beyond and, to the east, Mount Taygetos. On entering there is a beautiful pale pink Nerium oleander growing as a slender tree, and to the right a sheltered seating place.
Katerina gave us an introduction, and then the conversation quickly turned to the subject of watering - she is a committed dry gardener who only waters young plants or when it is strictly necessary. In contrast, Gabrielle Kaske, whose garden in the village of Proastio we were to visit next, is a committed waterer.
Katerina’s beautifully designed and well-tended garden comprises several gravel-mulched areas of planting on different levels, connected by stone steps and paving. The plants include different types of Salvia rosmarinus, several varieties of Lavandula and Euphorbia, Carissa macrocarpa, Plumbago, Helichrysum, Santolina, Artemisia, and many other drought tolerant specimens. One notable exception is a Feijoa, of South American origin, with edible guava-like fruits. At the lowest level is an aloni, or threshing floor, carved out of bed rock. Beside it several striking Sternbergia, sheltered by a prostrate Salvia rosmarinus, provided a stunning sight.
Leaving Katerina’s house we went, in convoy, to Gabrielle Kaske’s garden, at an altitude of 250 metres, on the edge of the village of Proastio. The entrance leads the visitor into a delightful arbour fronting a wonderful kitchen/dining room, partly carved from the rock. A tall, handsome Persea americana (avocado) tree provides shade, and nearby are many clipped Buxus.
Steps lead up from the arbour to a fine open area used for family gatherings and entertainment, with an aloni sunken into the ground at one end. There is a very large fig tree and, tucked away up a few steps, is a Plumeria (frangipani), an unusual plant to see in the Mani, and a clear sign of Gabi’s watering policy. Gabi is a passionate gardener, keen on growing her plants from seeds and cuttings. She showed us a beautiful rose grown from a cutting taken from a plant in Langada, also a large, rambling Rosa Banksiae.
More steps lead the visitor up to several further terraces, each larger in size and blending into the natural landscape of olives and cypresses. There are several healthy Ficus trees and an area for composting. On one side is planted a hedge of bright orange Tecoma capensis.
Afterwards the group went on to lunch at a taverna by the sea in Kardamyli, and so ended a very successful and enjoyable outing, viewing two contrasting approaches to gardening.
Text - Ben Martin Photos - Katerina Georgi
Green Day, Kalamata
Our ‘Green Day’ perhaps didn’t attract the crowds of its more illustrious forerunner, the ‘Λεύκη Νύχτα’ (White Night) which has become a hugely successful evening event filling the streets of Kalamata’s city centre in September - it was a much more exclusive event!
The primary purpose of the ‘Green Day’ was to acquaint MGS Peloponnes branch members with four Kalamata garden centres and to demonstrate that they are interested in native mediterranean plants as well as flowering pot and bedding plants. There was the added attraction of a 10% discount on all purchases. The four were: Fytoria Nikou, Geoponiki Estia, GreenLeaf Garden Centre and Kapsampeli Bothers, all located within easy reach by car of the city centre. To visit so many garden centres all in one morning didn’t allow sufficient time to compare each in any depth but, if first impressions are anything to go by, I was left with no doubt as to which I favoured, and it was not the one that is normally my first choice!
Flowering pot and bedding plants occupied the most prominent positions in each garden centre; surely a commercial response to popular demand at this time of year. Endemic mediterranean plants were less obvious but much better represented than in the past, with some lesser known specimens that attracted our attention. Plant care and watering seemed to be inconsistent everywhere while labeling and pricing was generally haphazard except in one garden centre. Most of the plant stock in these garden centres is sourced from elsewhere, even from abroad, although polythene tunnels existed at all four. It appeared that they were primarily used for storage and growing on rather than germination or propagation. Our group would have appreciated the opportunity to talk to resident horticulturists about their modus operandi and the reasons why.
No doubt plant sales at all four garden centres were augmented by the ‘Green Day’; visitors and individuals were able to seek advice and information from staff as well as from other members: always a valuable source of gardening knowledge. An unexpected bonus was the gift to each couple of a jar of Kalamata olives from the Kapsampeli Brothers. Discussion of gardening matters terminated under the shade of young plane trees at the Argo taverna, located alongside Kalamata’s Marina, where the focus shifted to getting acquainted with new members, reconnecting with existing and enjoying a light lunch. The relaxed and convivial atmosphere indicated the ‘Green Day’ event had been a success, socially as well as horticulturally. Who knows, maybe in the future, the idea of an annual ‘Green Day’ may be adopted by the garden centres as a means of acquainting a wider public with what they have on offer?
Text: John Hayes Photos: Katerina Georgi
Peloponnese Branch Head Katerina Georgi writes: I grew up in London and, after training as an Interior Designer, worked with various architectural practices, before setting up my own design consultancy, eventually expanding into garden design. Since moving to Greece in the early nineties, my focus has been the design and renovation of traditional stone houses, and water-wise Mediterranean gardens. My garden is on a south facing rocky promontory, 200 metres above sea level, which I began planting nine years ago, almost entirely with Mediterranean plants. Now the garden is mature I enjoy sharing it with fellow MGS members, and other groups of plant lovers.
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