The Botanical Park and Garden of Crete

On the plane back from Crete yesterday I noticed that the woman behind me kept her hand on the window until we had been in the air some time. I wondered if she was feeling the same pangs of loss as I was for all those endless horizons and quiet feelings of space.


So although my head is already full of London gardens as I prepare my posts for the Chelsea Fringe


… I can’t resist a little diversion to remind me of a blissful – less busy – day last week at the Botanical Park and Garden of Crete.


The Park has literally risen from the ashes of a family olive farm on hillside near Chania in Western Crete. On the website, they say:

By the end of October 2004, a sudden hot wind storm from Africa caused an electricity pole wire to break. This started a wild fire, which very quickly spread around so much that no one could control it. Twenty-four hours later, the whole region around the village had burnt almost to the ground.

The damage was unprecedented: sixty thousand olive trees over 400 hundred years old had been burnt. My village had been ruined both financially and ecologically.


But even from this tragedy something good happened, because what the family have created from the ruins is very special. Winding paths take you around a walking lesson in the world’s botany, from fruit trees to herbs to flowers to vines. All carefully chosen, tended and usefully labelled.


And if the signs can sometimes be charmingly ‘teacherly’…


They also introduced us to plants we’d never heard of before, and yet feel all the better for knowing now.



But most of all it really is proof that nature is indeed the best health cure …


… for the heart and the eye as well as the body…





And so, in honour of its history, here’s Réne Stefanelli’s poem – THE OLIVE TREE. Please click and read – It could almost have been written for the Park.


You can find out more about the Park at its website, and if you are in Crete, I really recommend a visit. And if you do got there, make sure you leave time to fit in a lunch at their restaurant. All the dishes are locally sourced, with herbs and fruits from the garden itself. I had chicken with oranges and lemons – so delicious I was tempted later to sneak in an extra taste!


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