Showing posts with label gardening. Show all posts
Showing posts with label gardening. Show all posts

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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