On Saturday my sister-in-law and I had an early start, catching the train to London Euston, in order to be at the Chelsea Physic Garden for around 10 a.m. We decided to get a taxi from the station, and were treated to a guided tour through Regents Park and along the Kings Road. The sun was shining and London looked beautiful.
We had made the journey to attend the Winter Meeting of the Mediterranean Plants and Gardens Organisation. The day started with a chance to admire the snowdrops, which are apparently early this year, morning coffee and a little gentle mingling with other members. It was the first time Pam and I had attended a meeting and we were made very welcome. After a few remarks from Heather Martin, John Fielding spoke about the events from last year and his presentation was accompanied by some very interesting and beautiful slides.
The main event, however, was a talk on Eastern Mediterranean Bulbs. Many of the featured plants grow on Crete and the photo above shows Oron talking about Crocus boryi - one of the beautiful autumn flowering bulbs we all look forward to once the winter rains have started. Oron Peri is an expert plantsman, writer and photographer from Israel and his talk was interesting, amusing and informative.
After a rather chaotic lunch, Oron talked on growing and caring for bulbs and the section on growing bulbs from seed was most interesting.
All in all, a lovely, satisfying day, especially as I had acquired a copy of Oron's new book, Bulbs of the Eastern Mediterranean, which, of course, I had signed!
Picture of Crocus boryi I took just before I left for the UK
Iris tuberosa, Himantoglossum robertiana, Silene colorata, Ophrys iricolor
Four of the lovely flowers to be found in bloom on Crete in February. I am in the UK at the moment looking through photos from last year and looking forward to the coming season of flowers and friends.
For those of you who missed the information last year, I can confirm that seeds of the rare, endemic Himantoglossum samariense - Cretan Lizard Orchid are snuggled up safely in the laboratories of the Botanic Gardens of Budapest in the care of Eszter R. Ezeki and with the help of Erika Penzesne Konya of Eszterhazy Karoly Foiskola in Eger, Hungary. According to Eszter, it could take up to twelve months to germinate, so it isn't a quick fix. However, if we do manage to raise some viable plants, they will eventually be returned to the wild in safe areas in the west and east of Crete. I am so excited about this project, which has been built on goodwill and friendship and with the added help of the Chair and Committee of PlantaEuropa. Also to Tony Haskins and Willie Rumboll on the ground in Crete. Great job everyone!
Sitting inside, painting Cypripedeum calcalceous for an exhibition in Hungary in April, I am thinking about the flowers I am looking forward to seeing when I go back to Crete in March. One of these is the delicate and easily overlooked Neontinia maculate, which I have only seen a few times. It can be found growing amongst Tulipa cretica and many other ophrys and orchids in ancient pine forests high in the mountains not too far from Elounda.
The fields in early May are full of annual and biannuals in a wealth of colours. Here we have thousands of chamomile under the fruit trees, a vibrant field of poppies and daisies and students from Canada frolicking amongst vicia, daisies and poppies, with the occasional wild gladioli.
With many thanks to Steve Lenton for these images of the newly classified Bellevalia juliana, I am still so proud to be the person this lovely little flower was named for. I originally found the plant some ten years ago, and despite being told that it was Bellevalia sitiaca, I was not convinced. After getting in touch with Nick Turland, he agreed to come to see it in the area around Elounda. Having seen the small population there, he telephoned the University in Patras and Peppi Bareka (an expert on Bellevalia)flew over the next day to confirm that it was a new species. It then took quite a few years for DNA to be processed and papers written. Many, many thanks to all concerned for this wonderful honour.