At Sparoza we are when we choose to be, entirely industrious and forward thinking. Nonetheless we have yet to install internet in my γκαρσονιέρα (studio) and my blog activity is, therefore, sporadic. Perhaps I am just being shy though!
The nights are cooling which is helping the plants to relax from the apocalyptic summer and a drought that has, so far, lasted half a year. The only rain we have had this fall was practically pointless. Any water that has fallen since September may have invigorated the atmosphere but hardly breached the surface of the soil. Our plants on the phrygana and hillside remain baked and thirsty and are showing this stress. But some of the more mature born-survivors and some of the plants in the irrigated terraces are acting their nature. I would like to share with you some photographs from the garden.
Chicory (Chicorium intybus) is a herbacious perennail native to and especially prevalent on the roadsides of Europe. It’s bitter leaves are edible and may be added to salads and the root can be used as a coffee substitute. This specimen is growing by the side of the road leading to Παιανία (Peania) that comes off the massive Αττική ¨Οδος (Attiki Odos) towards the Ελευθέριος Βενιζέλος Athens airport. As far as I can tell it gets no water from any source but is still the toughest and most glowing thing I see on my walk up to Σπάροζα on a Monday morning.
On the days I stay at the garden these are scenes that my sleepy eyes encounter as I wander about with my cup of tea. The first photo shows the path leading from my studio veranda to Derek’s garden. The other shows the covered entrance to the room where we keep our tools. By the door you can see the bag Sally made to hold the clothes pegs we use to hang out washing and the ‘net’ for cleaning the lilly-pool made from a plastic plant pot and wire netting on a broom handle.
When the house and garden were first formulated this was a swimming pool. Since then it has been used as a firepit for un-compostable plant debris and pernicious plants. It now serves as a pond for aquatic plants and wildlife. It is a lovely place to sit at any time of day but, as it faces the east, the mornings are especially etherial as you look over the water and down the hill to the Μεσόγεια plane, the Αιγαίο (Aegean Sea) and the Island of Εύβοια (Evia).
These are two of my new favourite plants. Both are forms of their Genus which I had never come across before or imagined could be (don’t get me started of the Euphorbias). The first is an endemic Cretan oregano which has large, tough, wooly leaves and stems and droups which release the flowers in an strategically militant way. The other is a Senecio which is a succulent. I love succulents. This plant has fat leaves with a powdery surface. The leaves are held tightly together on thr stem and the flowers shoot up on long stems exploding like blazing firecrackers. I get so excited when I discover a plant with a specialised habit so different from what I expect.
I will leave you, for now, with a picture of α Σπάρoζα resident and one of six faithful companions to Sally and now myself. Ebony the cat is 16 years old and has a miau like a creaky door. The eldest dogs are Nelly and Victoria and the other three are Noel, Big Puppy and Rex.
Noel came to the garden at Christmas last year (hence her name) and is part of the soul and fun of the place. All five dogs at Sparoza were strays that found themeselves here or were given to Sally by Ελένη who has created a shelter for the strays of the area at her home. They all have beautiful and loving natures and are completely irresistible. And so I have discovered that they love hazelnuts! I never feel alone at Σπάρoζα.