Saturday, 31 October 2009

Back Again

After a very stressful and hectic summer, I am back at home with a computer that works! Rosemary and I should be going out botanising today, but the weather is awful - grey and rainy and quite cool for Crete. It's around 15 degrees and all the cats are snuggled up in the warmth of the house. Farsin was out all night and came in very bedraggled when I got up to make a cup of tea. I am treating myself to a day listening to Radio 4 and doing some quilting. I need to set up my sewing machine in the living room and to do a little housework before I settle down to my quilting. Rosemary and I were hoping to go out to find a very rare plant called Biarum davisii which grows nearby, but as the track is a dirt track with a steep drop into the sea, I don't think we will be doing it today - the dirt turns to red soup which is so slippy even the jeep tyres don't grip. Never mind - another day!

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Bazaar at Cindy's

There will be a bazaar for Flowers of Crete at Cindy's Bar near Pelagos in Aghios Nikolaos on Sunday, 13th September at 10.00 a.m. to 1.00 p.m. Everyone is welcome - please come and join us. Lots of home made produce, spicy chutneys, lemon curd, cakes, scones etc., books, bric-a-brac, Flowers of Crete bookmarks, T-shirts, postcards and pens. If you have anything to contribute or can help out on the day, please contact me or one of the other Committee Members. The flower season will be here soon, and we need to get out and about to record and photograph. Rosemary and I have also been invited to visit the Director of the Greek Orthodox Academy in Kolymbari to discuss ways that we can collaborate and we hope to make a trip to Hania in November. This will also give us a chance to photograph flowers which we have not yet recorded.

Catching up

Despite having a frozen shoulder I am busy getting the house ready for guests arriving on Sunday. I have had a wicked virus (in the real sense of the word) on my laptop which has destroyed almost everything, so the time has been a bit stressful. However, I have got the desktop up and running after a fashion and am trying to get myself organised to get on with some work. I've finally got to grips with the GPS and Google Earth, which isn't as daunting as I expected. The weather has cooled down a little thank goodness and I,for one, am hoping that we have seen the last of the scorching days. Can't wait for the rains to start so that Rosemary and I can get out into the mountains to enjoy the flowers again - it seems ages since we had an exciting day out.

Friday, 24 July 2009

Maria's loom

For those of us interested in crafts of all types, here is a photo of one of my neighbours, Maria, who still has a loom set up in her back room. She showed me examples of her weaving and was kind enough to show e how the loom works. I have an old loom at the house at Houmeriakos and maybe one day I will be able to set it up and even use it.

View from the roof terrace

Guests who came to the house last week were kind enough to send me this great photo of the view from the roof terrace. Absolutely lovely.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Back to work

A combination of exhaustion after the exhibition and a run of really high temperatures, has caused me to neglect the website and blogs for a few weeks. However, a slight drop in temperatures and a brisk north wind have put me back on track - at least for a few days. The temperature is apparently set to soar again on Sunday. There have been some lovely people in the house and tomorrow a young couple who booked last year are returning for another ten days, so I am looking forward to welcoming them back. It's Jenny Moody's talk on Saturday and everything seems to be in place for that (I hope). It will, I think, get easier, the more of these events we organise and we can iron out a few remaining glitches. I have some great photos from the last couple of months, which I will post shortly, but of course, during the hot dry season there aren't too many flowers to photograph.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Autumn Bulb finding trip in October

There is still time to book a place on the Autumn Bulb Finding Trip in October which cover many of the hot spots of the island and will discover wonderful wild and endemic flowers of the island, such as Biarum davisii sp. davisii, Narcissus serotinus, Crocus oreocreticus, Cyclamen graecum and much more. For more details and a full itinerary check out the trips section on the website or get in touch direct.

Art courses in Crete

Painting and Drawing Flowers

I have been asked by several people whether I would run a drawing and painting workshop here in Crete next year. The answer is that if there is enough interest, then yes I would be happy to. Please get in touch if you would like more information.

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Picture from an Exhibition!

The last week has been exhausting and Rosemary and I are practically on our knees, but the exhibition has been very well attended. We have made lots of useful and interesting contacts and caught up with a lot of friends. Last night I managed to remember to take my camera and here is a photo of one of the main room of the Gallery in Aghios Nikolaos, showing my work along with ceramic artist Leanne's pots.

Monday, 22 June 2009

Exhibition - Precious Heritage

The exhibition opening was really well attended on Friday and now it's up and running I've got time to get back to other things. Hope to go to the Katharo tomorrow with Steve and Rosemary to check out Campanula spatulata - I've been asked to collect leaf samples for the University of Florida, so am taking a day off! (Hopefully). I'm on duty tonight and Rosemary was there this morning. Apparently there will be a write up in Anatoli, so we are all looking forward to seeing what they say.

Sunday, 21 June 2009


After a great time with Nick Turland and his wife Chris, Rosemary and I started for home last Sunday, stopping off in Spili for a bit of botanising. Rosemary found lots of grass specimens for pressing and I found this amazing cricket who had just shed his skin. In the bright sunshine he looked a strange creamy white colour, but in the photos he looks absolutely stunning.


The last ten days have been really hectic, but I'm hoping now that the exhibition is underway things will calm down a little. Everyone was very supportive and I couldn't have managed without the help of Rosemary, Steve, Jane and Barbara, even so I am exhausted and now I am back online in the Hobbit House I hope to be able to get back into a routine. This is my first day off for weeks, and I am trying to 'chill out' and tidy the place up a bit - art materials, books, maps, everywhere! But I'm going to 'tune in' to Radio 4 on the computer and catch up with my blogs etc and try to get the Flowers of Crete newsletter done - haven't done one since March!!! It was good to see so many people at the opening and to hear the positive comments from the President of the Cultural Organisation of Aghios. Let's hope it is going to be worth all the hard work!

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Photo of me and two of my quilts

Here's a photo of me taken twelve months ago at the opening of my art exhibition in Elounda, standing in front of two of my quilts. The larger Trip Around the World is entitled A Cloak for Hera and the smaller Cathedral Windows is called 'Klimt'. I'm working on a wall hanging which I promised my son ages ago, called 'Cloak for a Greek Hero' - as I wanted to keep the Greek theme for my wall hangings. I am also (as per previous post) trying to find time to start planning an exhibition piece for the Touch Festival in Aghios Nikolaos in September this year - maybe once my exhibition is over this month I will have more time.

Quilting Course in Crete next Spring

I am offering a quilting course based on The Flowers of Crete here in Pano Elounda next Spring - the date to be announced. The course will cover a variety of quilting methods and the use of transfer methods to apply images of flowers to fabric, including silk. There will be two sample quilts to offer inspiration - one will be a traditional quilt, using hand-painted or stencilled blocks and the other using an experimental approach, which will let your imagination run riot! All materials will be included in the cost of the week's course. More information soon!

Monday trip to Rouvas Gorge

Following a chat with a lovely German couple at the hotel in Malia, Rosemary and I threw caution to the wind and took ourselves off to the Psiloritis mountains to try to find a rare and endangered orchid Cephelantera cucullata. This lovely little orchid is extremely difficult to find and the kind Germans had told us it was in flower and where to find it. After several missed turnings in the mountains, which did mean we found lots of other interesting stuff, we ended up in the right place. We would never have found it, however, if it hadn't been for a noisy party of Greek men and boys who we encountered on our travels and who, as luck would have it, were going to the very spot to have a picnic!! We followed their trucks down some very bad dirt tracks through some spectacular scenery and ended up exactly where we needed to be. A short stroll into the forest led Rosemary and then me to the object of the trek. I was so excited I was on the verge of an asthma attack and, unfortunately, the camera chose that point to play up, so my photos aren't great! After a continued search we decided it was time to head home. Not far back up the track, Rosemary spotted more orchids behind the 'reserve' fence and we managed to get some shots of Limodorum arbortivum, but sadly too far away to get a decent shot. However, as we are so proud of ourselves for actually finding them, here are a couple of images. After a few diversions for road works, we got back to Elounda while it was still light and in time for Rosemary to have dinner with Bob! Me, I cooked myself a very basic corned beef hash and settled down to gloat over the photos and the day with my feet up. Very satisfying!

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Busy week!

It's been a really busy week, with loads happening and lots of exciting news, but am too tired to write much tonight. The last visitors have left for the UK well rested and with batteries re-charged and I am at the house for a few days before the next guests arrive from Finland. I'll write more (hopefully) tomorrow, but in the meantime, I'm posting a nice photo of Rosemary and me at the exhibition we put on at Malia Park Hotel during Environment Week. We were there for the evening on Friday, talking to guests about Flowers of Crete and the need for protection of the flora here. We met some really nice and interesting people and were guests of the hotel for dinner after the exhibition. The Guest Relations Officer Dimitra took this photo, which I am really pleased with.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Scorching hot!

It's 9.30 a.m. and absolutely scorching hot already! I've just taken a load of picture frames and art stuff down to the Hobbit House in Elounda where I stay when the house is rented out. The new guests arrive at around 6.00 p.m. and I am meeting them in Elounda at Babel on the harbour. Babel is run by Greek friends of mine and is one of the best places to sit and chat. They even make a great cup of tea. Not always easy to find here. Once the house is ready. I am going up to Kritsa to see friends Nigel and Jenny, to get their signatures on the Sylogos papers (charity) for Flowers of Crete. Here papers have to be submitted x 6 and each set of papers needs at least 2 signatures, so when I came to take them to the lawyer, I realised some pages had been missed. Nigel is a well-known artist, and it was his sculpture of the Maid of Kritsa that was unveiled last Saturday week. For anyone who would like to see this work, it's on the road to Lato out of Kritsa and is on the crossroads where the maid died at the hands of Turkish soldiers. More about this later, as I ought to be vacuuming before it gets too hot.

Monday, 1 June 2009


It's surprising just how much there is to do!! And I've had to think about everything I might need for getting ready for exhibition 'Precious Inheritance' in Aghios on 19th June. As if that isn't enough, I've been mulling over ideas for a quilt for the Touch Festival Competition in September - Rhythms (of Life). Have got some ideas which I've 'run past' Rosemary. More about this later. Must say the house is looking lovely!!!

Anthemis arvensis

Here is an image of A. arvensis taken on the Katharo Plateau on Friday. This daisy-like flower is common on Crete. It is easily confused with A. chia which has black margins to its bracts.

Flowers of Crete Wish List

Thanks to donations from friends in the UK and Finland, Flowers of Crete is now able to purchase a reflector for taking photos of flowers on dull or overly bright days. This item has been on the Flowers of Crete wishlist for some time and we are really grateful for their contributions which have made this possible.

Items on the wishlist inlude

A Professional copy of Google Earth
Macro lens for Nikon camera
Copy of Flora Europeae covering Greece
Archive quality inks for printer
Translator into Greek and German

There are many other items that would help to make our work more professional and efficient, if you would like to know more, please contact Julia or Rosemary.

We are terrifically grateful to everyone who supports us in so many ways. Flowers of Crete is going from strength to strength and we are helping to record previously lost or even new species on the island.

Sunday, 31 May 2009


If anyone wants to check out Sakis' wonderful Cretan oils etc, he now has a website If you place an order, please let Sakis know that you found him via Flowers of Crete. He will be SO pleased. He is a lovely young Cretan with a passion for the flowers and the healing qualities of the herbs of Crete. He and his family are great supporters of the work we are doing and he really deserves to succeed.

Cretan dittany

Cretan Dittany or O. dictamnus is endemic to Crete and is on the Greek Red List of endangered species. I've only seen it in the wild once and that was last year on the Nida Plateau. It is one of the herbs used to flavour Martini and is cherished by the Cretans as a cure-all. For those who don't know this lovely little herb, here are a couple of my images. As Jude said the leaves are dried to make Dittany tea, which the Cretans use as a refreshing drink and as a medicinal tonic. The flowers look a bit like a Shrimp Plant but it is a member of the Oregano family.

Tea with Rosemary

I popped down to see Rosemary in Elounda this morning and we spent a happy hour discussing flowers, including this little yellow Linum - maybe L. arboreum. It was growing on quite a steep cliff wall, which I had clambered up, while Rosemary and Steve walked further into the gorge to find a variety of interesting plants, including O. dictamnus (Cretan dittany), which I have only seen growing in the wild once before. This plant is on the Greek Red List of Endangered Species and I am determined I am going to struggle over the boulders and into the gorge to see it for myself. O. dictamnus flowers in July/August - so I hope to be posting images sometime then.

The image on the right is, I'm afraid, a little out of focus. I was balanced precariously on a cliff face and the wind was quite strong. Will try again next time we go up!

Saturday, 30 May 2009

Welcome to my World!!

This is the day to day story of my life in a small traditional village on the east coast of the beautiful Greek island of Crete. I spend much of my time in the mountains, looking for and photographing wild flowers, which are my passion. Here is a photo of the main street of my village - where you are more likely to see an old woman on a donkey, or a small flock of sheep or goats, than a car or van. The streets are definitely too narrow for a lorry. My neighbours are mostly Greek, mostly old and very, very kind to me. A piece of cake offered to a neighbour results in the gift of raki, olive oil, wine, or grapes, depending on the season. I live next door to the local kafenion, where Maria makes the best Greek coffee in the world.