Tuesday, April 5, 2016

'That' Mediterranean Garden

 
"My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece."
                                      -- Claude Monet


Anyone who has traveled in the Mediterranean region – France, Spain, Italy, Greece – probably read that title and immediately remembered ‘that’ one special garden that snatched your heart and sent your imagination soaring.  You likely thought back to following – or wishing you could follow - the uneven stone pathway that wound through it, letting your imaginations determine who created it, when and why.

Maybe you just imagined yourself as its owner and pondered the many ways you would spend time in it. Mediterranean gardens seem by their very nature to  prompt such flights of fancy.


Wild mint and African daisies line the stairway to the grove


If you are like me and other such travelers, you tried to recreate such a garden ‘back home’ - most likely - again, like me - in a climate that is not Mediterranean. If so, (like me), you’ve failed at your attempts.  I can't tell you how many gardenias, lemon and orange trees have died under my watch in the U.S. Pacific Northwest.

"He who has a garden and a library wants for nothing."
                       -- Marcus Tullies Cicero

So half the joy in finding our Mediterranean Stone House on the Hill in the Greek Peloponnese was its garden. Built on a portion of a long-ago olive grove the property cascades in terraces down a hillside coming to rest at the edge of one of this area's many gorges. And most of the property is a garden.

It is a garden that stretches from high above the back of the house, winds itself around one side and front where it meets the olive grove. At the time of our purchase, it was clearly overgrown and under loved. It beckoned with potential and challenged us to discover its secrets . . .and I told you in an earlier post about those first days of uncovering our 'secret garden'.



Lemon Tree patio at The Stone House on the Hill


It needed work - lots and lots of work as we were to learn. But each time we set forth with shovels and hoes, I'd fantasize about creating a place to spend future idle hours reading some of the world’s great novels or writing one. Or I'd think of myself just sipping morning coffee or wine at the day's close; in each scenario basking in the wonder of it all.


A portion of our crop - The Stone House on the Hill


Even the thought of bringing this Mediterranean (potential) masterpiece back to life had a rosy, romantic glow about it. However, it didn't take long though for reality to set in. The process hasn't been quite as idyllic as you might image. Centipedes and spiders welcomed us. And that rich red soil is about as hard as the stones that seem to make up 90% of the land mass here.  Despite following 'how-to' book recommendations, in the last year I've managed to buy and then kill one French lavender plant and the two remaining are at death's door. One rosemary plant -- they normally grow the size of bushes here - has also bitten the dust under my part-time green thumb.




New pomegranate tree in upper garden is a gift from houseguests; Iris, African daisies are in full bloom

"However many years she lived, Mary always felt that 'she should never forget that first morning when her garden began to grow'."
                                                                        -- Frances Hodgson Burnet, The Secret Garden

On the flip side, our successes have been many and we've loved seeing the fruits of our labors. This is the first time we've been here early enough in the spring to see the garden come to life. We do bask in the wonder of it all as there is always something blooming or sprouting or wilting away. And we do indulge in time spent in our Lemon Tree patio. Yet, 'We've only just begun' just like the lyrics of  the old Carpenter's song of the 70's. We've got more in the planning stages so you'll get another garden tour one day.


A carpet of wildflowers in the grove - The Stone House on the Hill

Speaking of gardens and blooms, I'd be remiss if I didn’t tell you the olive grove  has been carpeted with blooms this spring – wildflowers of white, red and yellow have made it a place that would have inspired Monet.

What's a garden without a cat posing in it?


And each time I am in the garden I think of all that would have been missed had we not decided to have this one last fling, to throw doubt to the wind and grow olives instead of old. 

As Frances Mayes, one of my favorite writer’s, once said:

“Life offers you a thousand chances. . .all you have to do is take one.”

Our first two weeks of this spring stay at The Stone House on the Hill has been marked with on-again off-again internet (which has helped the garden tremendously because we weren't tied to electronics inside).  And as a reminder of the agricultural setting in which we are in, the internet problem was the work of  the mouse that chewed the internet cable last fall and returned to do the same this spring. With luck I’ll get this posted and be able to respond to your emails and comments.

Iris, once buried under vines are flourishing this spring
As always we love having you along with us and next week we'll start telling you about some of the Peloponnese wonders that guidebooks haven't yet discovered. Hope you’ll be back and until then, safe travels to you and yours!

We are linking up this week with:
Mosaic Monday – 
Through My Lens
Our World Tuesday
Wordless Wednesday
Travel Photo Thursday – 
Photo Friday
Weekend Travel Inspiration

And for those who want to try your hand at creating a Mediterranean garden, let us recommend this book, Gardening, the Mediterranean Way by Heidi Gildemeister as an excellent resource:

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33 comments:

  1. Considering what little time you've really had to devote to the garden it looks great.

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    1. Thanks Gaelyn, it is certainly a work in progress. I can't help but wonder if there ever will come a time we look at it and say, "Finished!" or if we will always have some new idea. . . thanks for the visit!

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  2. Your phrase, "...grow olives instead of old" is so poetic and I love its spirit! We too are enjoying watching spring unfold in Portugal and seeing the many variety of wildflowers in pastures and blooms on various trees. And I can certainly identify with the itch to plant and (hopefully) grow. What a lovely way to spent a few hours! Anita

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    1. And if you are like us, that urge to garden had worn thin back in the States - we preferred to travel. Now I can't get enough of exploring these new plants (and weeds). Hopefully you'll come visit this masterpiece-in-the-making garden of ours one day!

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  3. Your garden is beautiful in all its wild splendor Jackie! My farm looks like that and actually a lot worst. The biggest problem we have is the thorn bushes. They are the most stubborn plants I've ever seen!! You kill one another five pop up. Aside from that there is so much beauty and rocks in the land...lol. I keep most of my "flowers" on the balcony and still manage to kill them. There is hope for everyone!

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    1. We love those rocks and in fact found we had some large beautiful ones strategically placed in our garden but they were so overgrown when we bought it, that we didn't know they were there. We love all the new plants there are to learn about here. Thanks for taking a garden stroll with us Mary!

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  4. Beautiful images and aspects, as always! lots of wonders in your garden and impressive landscapes! Greetings in April!
    Ps. also, beautiful quotes; you're right saying: "to throw doubt to the wind and grow olives instead of old..." indeed it is all about taking chances! lots of positivity to learn about! many thanks!

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    1. We really did have to throw logic and caution to the wind and most of our friends were not only shaking their heads, but still doing so now, at the thought of these boomers heading out to Greece. So glad we did though!

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  5. Exquisite!!! I'm in awe of this miracolous garden! Well done you friends!
    A big, warm hug
    Olympia

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    1. Oh we still have a long ways to go, but we are making progress! Thanks for the hug - and here's one for you:
      Xxx. Jackie

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  6. Beautiful! The lemon tree, the blue table set - and the kitty cat - love them all and so Mediterranean!

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    1. Thanks much Jackie, we are on the road to where we want to be, but not quite there yet!

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  8. I love following your Greek House stories. Please do more! Those lemons are amazing. They grow so well in there don't they? I love your little lemon terrace and blue is just the right colour furniture. I would love to be sitting there with you chatting and sampling a glass of local wine and maybe some of your olives or olive oil with bread.

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    1. You must come to Greece sometime when we are in residence and you and I will do just that: chat the afternoon away sipping wine and eating olives, and fresh bread dipped in oil -- but we must have some fresh cheese as well!

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  9. I miss having a garden and backyard (even though I am a plant killer). The house I grew up on had the biggest backyard you can imagine full of fruit tree and potted plants. My mom was always into bringing different plants from nurseries recommended by her friends.

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    1. Ruth that sounds like the backyard we each had growing up and we feel like we've entered a second childhood with gardening and back to basics like it! Thanks for the visit!

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  10. How inviting is that first picture of the stone path accessorized by lush, fragrant vegetation, leading to that idyllic landing at the lemon tree patio, your own little oasis of pure and deserved indulgence!

    You CAN'T imagine how I miss my own Cretan paradise!

    Thanks for the beautiful pics, Jackie! ENJOY!!!

    Hugs,
    Poppy

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    1. Poppy, how I wish you lived just down the street so we could visit each other's gardens and have a chat about the weather, the garden and the village! Someday maybe. . . hugs, Jackie

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  11. Nothing beats a Mediterranean garden. It looks so fragile and romantic - just stunning. #TPThursday

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    1. Those gardens do capture the heart don't they? Thanks much for stopping by - nice to have connected.

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  12. Hi Jackie, thank you for sharing your oh so beautiful Mediterranean garden with us. I feel so relaxed just looking at the photos. Your part-time green thumb did a wonderful job transforming it into an under loved place to such a thing of beauty and labor of love and inspiration. Sometime hang a mouse cut your internet wiring is such a blessing, it gives you more time to indulge in nature. Enjoy your spring in the Stone House on the Hill.

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    1. Thanks much Marisol, one of these days we must get you to the Stone House so you can enjoy the garden in person! Hugs to you - Jackie

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  13. Bravo! The garden is quite inviting, certainly something we never could have accomplished. I'm lucky to keep one plant aqt a time alive.

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    1. Well we have several new additions for which I am keeping my green fingers crossed that we won't kill them before they take root! Ha, ha. . .thanks for stopping by. . .

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  14. This must have been a wonderful place to visit and I love the stone stairs!

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    1. Actually it is where we live in Greece and yes, it is pretty wonderful, even if there is a lot of work that's gone into creating the garden. Thanks for the visit, Sarah!

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  15. I love Mediterranean gardens, and are blessed with a Mediterranean climate here were I live, so rosemary, lavenders etc grow beautifully. Lavender has to be my favourite garden plant. I am sorry to hear that yours are not doing well. I hope you keep at it. In the meantime enjoy your successes and what seems like a beautiful garden with a view. I love your lemon tree patio. On a cooking program one time I saw a lemon tree on the Mediterranean which have been trained over a pergola. Truly beautiful. Have a wonderful week and thanks for stopping by to say hi.

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    1. We've moved the lavender to a sunnier spot and hopefully it will pull through (and I am buying more soon to give it another try as well). Love the sound of a lemon tree pergola! Thanks for stopping by, Jill.

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  16. It looks amazing, well done you.

    Mollyxxx

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    1. Thanks much Molly; love your 'picture a day' posts! Jackie xxx

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  17. When you started talking about your Mediterranean garden, I immediately visualized lavender and rosemary. I probably would have the same amount of luck as you. Still, your photos are wonderful, especially of the cat by the potted geraniums.

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  18. It seems like you have accomplished quite a lot! The first photo of the stairway to the grove is pretty much my idea of an idyllic garden!

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So happy to see you took the time to comment. We read them all - and each is much appreciated. We hope you will be a regular here and comment often!

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