Flowers: Wild and… Tamed

Thank you, o rain! After almost five years of little rain, this past winter brought plenty of water to Kea.

 

Rainfalls were soft and kind, without any flash flooding, long plentiful.  Roots had the opportunity to absorb a lot of water.  In our garden, even those plants that last year seemed to be slowly dying, like out Cistus puprupreus, this spring they are thriving, filled with flowers so ridiculously big that they remind of pancakes.

The lupine seeds we spread in the northeast part of the property also thrived, although it has become obvious after all our repeated efforts, they obviously don’t adore our very sandy soil: their racemes are short and not as lush as their wild parents on the mountains of Kea.

But their cousin, the Ebenus cretica with its wonderful pink spikes, an endemic plant of Crete, is having the time of its life!  The yellow phlomis bushes in the garden and around our gate, that we chose to plant several years ago, not only because we like them but also because the neighborhood sheep and goats won’t touch them, are at their best. The carob trees we brought from Crete in the fall already bear their first horns, and the oak tree in front of our terrace, planted there to block the sunset heat will definitely give us plenty of shade this summer.

The huge spurge trees (Euphorbia dendroides) in the island’s central, mountainous part are thriving too. Islanders believe their smell attracts flies away from their homes but we have not find that to be completely true, unfortunately.

Kea’s wild lavender (Lavandula stoechas) is always wonderful and incredibly fragrant but we have not managed to grow it in our garden.

The vivid yellow flowers of the wild mustard plant attract bees as thy are the first to bloom, late in the winter.

Purple irises (Iris germanica) grow all over thee island, even by the beach at Otzias. In my childhood we had the white variety in our garden in Patissia, in the outskirts of Athens.

Purple viper’s-bugloss (Echium plantagineum) is supposed to be poisonous, and it is quite rare and so beautiful! I photographed it on the side of the dirt-road leading to the beach in my morning walk with Neva.

We have many kinds of wild orchids on Kea, some even grow in our garden, but this one was photographed in the central, mountainous part of the island.

This wild, fragrant, dark purple violetta, as it is called in Greek, is a kind of Mathiola and grows all around the bay of Otzias, along with its cousin, the pink Virginia stock which is a separate genus of the same family (Malcolmia maritima).

I have no idea what these ephemeral, tiny flowers are, but I love looking at them and try not to step on them as I walk down the dirt road to the beach each morning.

Even moss and lichens have grown to never-seen proportions this year, thanks to the wonderful rains!

 

..and Birds

Amid the many colors of this year’s triumphant spring, the elegant, dancing black and white stripes of the flying hoopoes’ wings add motion to nature’s magnificent stage.  Hoopoes visit us this time every year, two pairs this spring; and their elegant flying ballet is complemented by the melodic tweets of the many goldfinches and the constantly gargling bee eaters.

 

 

 

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