Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Greece ~ Discovering Our “Secret” Garden

Having lived our entire lives in the US Pacific Northwest – where gardens are folded up and put away between October and May – it sounded idyllic to be able to ‘garden’ in December and January in Greece.

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Our bedroom window
We were realists, though. We’d seen that garden: it needed work in the spring, it needed more work in the summer and when we walked through it the week before purchasing The Stone House on the Hill, it appeared it might take the rest of our lives to ‘garden’ this place back to its one-time beauty. Still, we thought, it had potential. . .

And that’s not to say there weren’t beautiful spots tucked away in this Mediterranean challenge, like the bougainvillea blooming outside our bedroom window.


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View frrom our parking area
The garden makes up most of the grounds of our Stone House. It cascades down a slope from its parking area, loops to the side of the house and then leads into our small terracd olive grove (if you missed that post, click the link).

Our home is one of four built on the edge of a century-old olive grove on a hillside above the small villages of Agios Dimitrios and Agios Nikolaos (St. Dimitri and St. Nicholas) in The Mani area of the Peloponnese.


Come Take Stroll through the Garden  . . .

We had bouts of cold wind and rain, so our gardening efforts were somewhat limited during our 28-days, but as I did last week with the interior of the house, I want to show you some before and after photos of this still-a-work-in-progress-potential-oasis:

Let’s start at the side of the house where it appeared the previous owners had a small un-used, and definitely unloved patio that sat forlornly near the garden’s sole lemon tree. “This will be the Wine (tea or coffee) Patio,” I said so many times that it became a mantra.

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Before photos on left, patio revealed on the right
After a morning spent cutting and yanking vines and old growth we discovered that ‘tiny’ patio was huge! It will be loved and used. Not only will we sip wine there, we just might dine there as well!  And for you gardeners reading this, the lemon tree is one that produces year-round so no matter when we visit we should have – or at least their fragrant blossoms  – lemons, like these growing in December.

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Our lemon tree in December
As we removed layers of vines from the patio we began discovering our ‘secret garden’ hidden away under the growth.  We opened up planting areas (for the Christmas poinsettias), and found a number of plants including a French Lavender and wonderful bits of stonework. . .all just waiting to be discovered.

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Discovering parts of our secret garden
There is still work to be done on the side garden, as evidenced by the photos below. The previous owners were apparently content to use the ladder pictured to get from the upper garden to the lower one at the side of the house; the one that leads to the wine patio. We are having stairs built next month and we will focus on this area during our next stay:

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The challenge area - we did plant iris along the wall to get something pretty there
Then there was the matter of the garden behind the house.

DSCF1235A sloping hillside, we thought, without much definition. 

First step was to cut, pull, dig and clean out.

Ground cover is a good thing, but there is such as thing as too much of a good thing.

So we went to work and after several days, guess what we found?







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Work begins in the left photo - and revealed many surprises underneath the olive tree
Hidden beneath the growth were some of the original terraced stone walls of the olive grove. We also unearthed granite stones, iris beds and a carpet of nasturtiums.

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Morning sun highlights the iris we discovered
“The secret to being a bore is to tell everything.”
-- Voltaire
With those wise words in mind, I will end this week’s tour.  But not before I show you some of the garden blooms and colors -- in December and January mind you!!

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Our garden blooms
Hope to see you back again soon. Come experience the special celebration in the village on January 6th and in a later post I'll take you through the neighborhood and village. By the way, if you have ideas for the side garden, do let us know!

Thanks – as always -- for the time you’ve spent with us in Greece. It means a lot to have you with us.
Happy Travels~

Linking up this week:
Travel Photo Thursday – Budget Traveler’s Sandbox  
Travel Inspiration – Reflections En Route  
Mosaic Monday – Lavender Cottage Gardening

40 comments:

  1. Love all the rock work in these gardens and can totally imagine dinning next to the lemon tree. Lots of work, but worth it.

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    1. It is amazing the amount of rock walls and stairs around here. It is simply cost prohibitive in the US but wood is as scarce in this area of Greece as rock is around Seattle.

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  2. This is beyond exciting! I love, love, love that patio and how wonderful to have all those lovely old walls and flowering plants just ready to delight you. You may have to move there full time in order to tend to all your new babies, though.

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    1. Actually Vera we are hoping to have a lot of houseguests who've always wanted to putter in a Mediterranean garden. . .;-)

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  3. Absolutely wonderful all this outdoor area. And the view is really breathtaking, this stone house up to the hill looks typically "maniatico" !
    Many hugs
    Olympia

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    1. As always, I love to see your name appear in the comments Olympia. You and Poppy are my role models for Greek homes, gardens and beautiful touches. Keep up the inspiration! Hugs, Jackie

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  4. Amazing, Jackie and Joel! So cool to find all these hidden items (and plants) (and WINE PATIO) under brush!

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    1. I probably should have titled this one, "Seek and ye shall find. . ." Thanks for the visit Beth and glad you enjoyed the post. Thanks for taking time to comment~

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  5. I am a gardener and miss Zone 9 that we had in Vancouver. I am planning to rip out a huge mass of lawn this spring and go au naturel with shrubs, trees and rocks so I know how much work you've been doing. This place is gorgeous - and I bet there is already a line-up of visitors booked.

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    1. Glad you recognize the 'elbow grease' required for this project, Leigh. Good luck on yours. We've had a number of people tell us they will come and visit, some speculate they might come and visit and some seem to think out loud about it without committing to it either way. And some have made it clear they probably won't visit ;-). There is a bit of travel required to get there from the US (and Canada) but I think visitors would love the area once they got there! Keep us in mind if you head to Europe - we'll get a bit more decoration in the guestroom during our next visit and the welcome mat is out!

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  6. What gorgeousness you discovered after all your hard work! I love, love, love what you've done. :-)

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    1. Photos are glorious and the surprises you found are great -- even if there much work to get them into condition you like. Congratulations on this adventure...we love sharing it from a distance without the work. You can't share too much about this. Sharon

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    2. Glad you are enjoying the reports. I wasn't sure how exciting I could make the garden report -- but it appears from the comments and emails that our blogosphere world is filled with not only fans of travel, but of gardening (and Greece) as well!

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    3. It will take awhile to get this into the shape of your wonderful Australian garden Krista, but one of these days we will get there. . .or hopefully, close. ;-)

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  7. Hello Jackie and Joel,

    This is all very exciting. What a very interesting garden and the patio for morning coffee and cocktail hour looks perfect.

    Wishing you joy in your new home

    Helenx

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  8. Hello Helen! So glad to have you drop by and take a garden tour! Look forward to seeing more of your new place as well! Hugs, Jackie

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  9. Painting and decorating the interiors of your stone house on the hill is of course a lot of fun, but actually DISCOVERING stone outside in your diamond-in-the-rough garden, is AMAZING! Yes, clover is very pretty, but when it's covering all that beautiful granite, it is scary! And flowers - more flowers than I have ever had in my Cretan garden in the winter. Roses, irises, nasturtiums, and bougainvillea by your bedroom window, to boot - what a bonus! Your wine patio is well on its way to hosting some enchanting conversations, I'm sure, and I can't wait to see those steps that will lead to the most spectacular scenes. You and Joel have already accomplished so much; you should be very proud!

    Happy weekend in your Pacific Northwest!

    xoxo
    Poppy

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    1. Hopefully one of these days Poppy, it will be you and me sitting in that wine patio chatting and laughing! We are already eager to return!!

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  10. Message from 'the boss'. If any of your guests ask what that tree is, you can reply in the words of Sherlock Holmes (almost) 'It's a lemon tree, dear Watson'!! -- He gets worse! It looks wonderful, but don't work too hard, make sure you both sit on the patio with that forecast glass of wine.

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    1. Okay, I love that comment and will use it at every opportunity! Hope to be sipping rake with you two on that patio in the not-too-distant future. Our neighbors, whose daughter is a doctor in Heraklion, gave us a lovely bottle of the 'fire water from Crete' at Christmas. . .would love to share it with you.

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  11. Most projects like this do take a lot of work but the end result is so worth it! And being rewarded with finding those stones is just icing on the cake!

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    1. It was dirty and grunt-work many days, but as you noted, the end result each day was so worth the effort that we were eager to return and see what other discoveries were waiting for us!! Thanks for the visit and taking time to comment!!

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  12. Ooooh, a wine patio. I like the sound of that. What a pleasant surprise that all those plants were hiding in all the overgrowth. I am wondering, who will care for your garden when you are away. I scaled back my Texas garden before moving to Malaysia so that it could coast along without care other than lawn mowing while I was gone. I thought I'd jump right back into my gardening hobby when I returned, but it has yet to happen. Too much time spent reading travel blogs, ha ha.

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    1. We are thinking we will likely return to find the garden as overgrown as it was, but at least we have a focus. And I know what you mean about the travel blogs. . .they do keep me from my Kirkland garden; something I need to reprioritize this coming spring and summer!! Thanks for the visit, Michele!!

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  13. My gosh it's like living in paradise with this sight to welcome you every day. Lovely flowers and what amazing greens! I don't have a green thumb so I have high respect to those who can grow a garden like this.

    Take it easy this weekend. :)

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    1. You've nailed it! It does feel like paradise and we feel so lucky to have the chance to experience it. . with a few broken finger nails and dirty feet to remind us it is reality as well! Thanks for stopping by . . .

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  14. I can only imagine the excitement of unearthing so many treasures! Love your wine patio! And lemon trees! Fabulous!

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    1. We told ourselves that it was like unwrapping Christmas presents every time we went out and unearthed something new and wonderful! Thanks for stopping by, Amy, your visits are always appreciated.

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  15. It looks beautiful already...but I'm sure you will make it even more so! Love the pics! Thanks again for linking up with Weekend Travel Inspiration!

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    1. Corinne, I love your Weekend Travel Inspiration - it does just as the name implies, inspires more travel!!

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  16. You're spiffing the place up to be much more user friendly and I vote for the patio to be the place for tea in the afternoon and wine in the evening.
    The phrase of folding up the garden for the same months that we do brought a smile on.
    Thank you for linking to Mosaic Monday Jackie.

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    1. Only those of us in the northern climes can appreciate the concept of folding up the garden, right Judith? I am looking forward to bringing my Northwest garden out of hibernation! Love being part of Mosaic Monday!

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  17. oh what a wonderful garden you are discovering under the undergrowth. That patio with those sea views is definitely a wonderful place to sip, eat, talk and enjoy all year round or to just sit and enjoy. Last year on a cooking TV show I saw a lemon tree growing over a trellis over a stone terrace in Greece with ocean views. I couldn't get over how beautiful it was. Happy gardening and have a great week. I love reading about renovations in far flung countries.

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    1. I have to admit that lemon tree was so picturesque the first visit we made to this house that it just might have tipped the scales a bit in our deliberations about the purchase! Hopefully, you'll visit someday Jill and we will enjoy that patio together!

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  18. What a joy to discover this secret garden. Love the idea of a wine patio ...maybe I will rename our screen porch!

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    1. Sallie, I love the idea of your screen porch being a wine porch! Thanks for stopping by and hope to see you again!

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  19. How exciting to be unearthing the secrets of your garden. Looks like hard work though!

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    1. It helped keep the pounds off and justified my eating and drinking while there, Jan. Thanks for commenting~

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  20. Very exciting and all of those hidden gems, Jackie! I'm jazzed for you both! :)

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    1. Thanks for visiting the garden Mike. One of these days hopefully we will get you there to see it in person!

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