In late October 2016 I went to Athens, Greece for a Vacay. I met up with mum, who was already there on a holiday from Australia. She introduced me to some super cool family that I hadn't met before. I had the pleasure of staying with them. They welcomed me with open arms and as they like animals and plants just as much as I do, I felt right at home. Athens, unlike New York City, is still warm in the middle of autumn, with temperatures some days reaching up as high as the mid 70's degrees Fahrenheit.
Staying in Voula, a suburb situated near the beach, the Mediterranean Sea was just outside our doorstep. Warmer days and the convenience of it all, lead to a spontaneous boat ride and a out of season dip in the water, which turned out to be one of the highlights of the trip. Flowers were still in bloom and the sun was shining and although I was on holidays, I was drawn to photograph and hang out in the garden.
Out on the yacht on the Mediterrean
The Lay of the land
With the weather being warmer here, citrus trees grow easily. Draping over garden pathways or in the thick of the garden, they grow to a substantial height and bredth, are aromatic and visually enticing. It was such a treat enjoying the organic juice from the oranges and lemons. Olive trees, one of the traditional symbols of Greece, regally line the streets and private gardens. Freshly picked olives were another delighful holiday treat of fruit, straight from the tree to the table. Currently, there is a bit of a problem with strangers harvesting the olives from trees planted on the pavement just outside the perimeter of someone's house. If planted outside the fence, it's legal and more of a question of courtesy to let the trees be, for the gardener who planted them to exclusively eat the fruits of their labor.
Cousin Xara's Garden in the Morning
The repetitive use of terracotta pots matched with the terracotta color of the soil, gives the garden a rustic, effortless feel which is so inviting for one to take some brain rest and body rejuvenation. Inspired by the terracotta color, it is a feature which I want to incorporate into my garden in the USA this year. Herbs grown independantly in bunches at the base of trees instead of grouped together in a herb patch, appeared to be liberated and is an excellent use of space. It was nostalgic to have cats and dogs roaming free in the backyard garden, something I haven't had since Australia. Animals always add an element of homeliness to a garden.
THE LOCAL WAY
During one of our family gatherings, I took the dogs out for their afternoon stroll. I ventured up a mountain to find serene views of Athens and to my absolute joy some hardy cyclamen growing wildly, under trees and in between rocks. This species, cyclamen graecum or Greek cyclamen, is a native perennial to the area. After the winter, it will lay in a summer dormancy until the weather cools down again the next fall. Usually contained in pots, the absence of a border gives them a different shape and places more emphasis on their magnificent leaves.