|Mediterranean Garden Society|
Annual General Meeting 2016: Three Days in Corfu
by Helena Wiesner
Photographs to illustrate the article published in The Mediterranean Garden No 87, January 2017
The west coast of Greece is noticeably wetter than the rest of central and southern Greece and thus the Ionian Islands of the west coast, while scorching in the summer, are known for their damp and humid winter climate and relatively lush green landscape. Corfu being the most northerly of them is the wettest and lushest.
The post-AGM excursion to Corfu took in a lot of gardens.
A visit to the Gastouri Estate, home of past MGS President, Cali Doxiadis, was one highlight.
The 18th century house at Gastouri reflected in the pool
The courtyard at Gastouri
Cyclamen hederifolium rampant in fields and groves
Past garden assistants to Sally Razelou at the MGS garden at Sparoza, Jennifer Gay and Piers Goldson, are now working as garden designers throughout Greece and are responsible for the gardens at the holiday village of Rou.
Around the houses and the shared village spaces where more formal planting was required, Jennifer and Piers aimed for native or other mediterranean-climate plants, drought-tolerant and able to take some winter cold, and in colours and forms that would enhance the creamy colour of the stonework. Interestingly and very effectively, they used a relatively restricted range of plants throughout the extensive planting, but varied the mix in any particular part of the garden. So we saw jasmine and wisteria, agapanthus, rosemary, lavender, trachelospermum, plumbago, campsis and terebinth in various combinations, with Tulbaghia violacea (which loves the Corfu climate) as a recurring accent. Perhaps most striking was a lovely climbing white rose which carries your eye from point to point in the village (blooms were even floating in a lovely stone trough near the entrance). This was named as ‘Iceberg’ – or ‘Schneewittchen’ – but seems more likely to be one of the various more or less climbing sports which have arisen from that famous floribunda; if so, it’s certainly one of the best.
We saw here the first – and perhaps the best – example of closely trimmed lavender and rosemary forming dense and shaped masses in borders and along paths. We were told that trimming is needed roughly once a month (apart from flowering time) to achieve this perfection at Rou, and even so the plants eventually become too leggy and have to be replaced. Such frequent trimming may defeat many of us who are not in our Mediterranean homes permanently, but it creates such a striking display that it’s definitely worth a try.
Wide stone steps lined with Tulbaghia violacea and the white rose climbing up the wall
A gravel path with an interesting stone object backed by Plumbago and Agapanthus
A deceptively simple planting of Mediterranean plants in varying shades of green and grey
A luxurious hill-top villa, Sto Dassos, has an interesting steep garden.
One of the paths wending down
The start of a path with Tulbaghia and rosemary
The hill-top view
At Strongylo the vanishing edge pool with billowing clipped rosemaries is startling and the three-legged table with pots of cactus amusing.
The edge of the vanishing edge pool reveals clipped waves of rosemary
When the legs are tree trunks a table only needs three. Potted cactus silhouetted by the mountains of Albania