|Mediterranean Garden Society|
The Cyprus Branch of the MGS
The plant below may not look particularly spectacular but it is none the less special. Centaurea akamantis is an extremely rare Cyprus endemic that is confined to one small area in the Akamas region. It was only discovered within the last 15 years, by a government forester. Needless to say it is strictly protected by the articles of the Bern Convention. I hasten to add that I acquired my specimen legally. The Agricultural Research Institute is carrying out trials to assess it for garden use and I got it from them.
On Tuesday 14 June a number of members, spouses and guests paid a visit to the Minthis Hills housing project in the Paphos District of Cyprus.
Monika Noppa, the landscape architect in charge of the garden designs and environs, explained what they were attempting to achieve and the thinking behind their efforts before beginning to show us around the site. We began with an area that was planted with native plants from the immediate area, which, once established, was destined to become a sort of outdoor fitness centre. Various items of equipment will be positioned around the site in order to provide residents with a means of keeping fit or just a way of enjoying themselves. A nearby site was being used as an area for trialling a wide assortment of plants to assess their suitability and ability to survive in this environment. The ones that pass the test will eventually be labelled and become a living catalogue of plants that can be used to help residents to choose those that they may wish to incorporate into their gardens. Purchase of a property in the complex includes the creation of the garden and the owner is consulted in this process.
We then moved on to examine a couple of the completed gardens. The main aim is to attempt to keep the plantings to the front of the properties fairly neutral, i.e. no garishly-coloured exotics, while the gardens to the rear can reflect the owner’s wishes a little more. The villas are all built on the ridge of a slope overlooking the valley below and the gardens flow down into it, gradually blending into the natural landscape as they move away from the house.
Everything possible is being done to maintain the integrity of the surrounding landscape.
One nature trail has been completed on site with others in the planning stage. On this occasion time, and the June heat, were against us so we were unable to investigate it. However, we plan to return next year in March or April when the wild flowers will be at their best.
A large area of the Troodos Massif that includes forested areas and old mine workings has been designated as a geopark. Part of this initiative involves the renovation of one of the buildings that once belonged to the now defunct asbestos mine above the village of Amiandos and its opening as a small museum. The building housed the elementary school for the children of the mine workers and it is now being used to educate visitors to the site about the geological history of the area and of Cyprus in general.
Members of the Branch were pleased to welcome a couple of Australian MGS members who were visiting the island as they joined with a locally-based geology/earth sciences group, spending the first part of the morning on a guided tour of the establishment.
The remainder of the visit was spent in a different area of the old mine workings, seeing the continued progress of the reforestation work and the associated botanical garden. Several members had brought along light refreshments and an impromptu picnic was enjoyed in the shade of mature black pines (Pinus nigra).
In February, branch members paid a visit to a private aquaponics venture. Following extensive research in an effort to discover a method of growing vegetables in the most organic and efficient way possible, the owner had decided upon aquaponics. From the start of the system with the tank of fish, whose waste products provide the nutrients to feed the plants, down to the lowest tank, from which the water is filtered and returned to the beginning, the whole system was of immense interest. Although the utilization of so much water may seem at first to be contrary to mediterranean gardening principles, the whole system probably actually uses less than would be consumed by conventional irrigation methods to produce an equivalent crop. (An article covering this visit in more detail can be found in TMG 84, April 2016.)