Nová botanická zahrada na ostrově Cephalonia v Řecku
New botanical garden is being created at an abandoned olive grove near the capital of Kefalonia
The Ionian island made famous last summer as \'Corelli\'s island\' will soon gain an addition to its many attractions as a new botanical garden takes shape on a terraced hillside overlooking the Bay of Argostoli. Christened Cephalonia Botanica, the garden will be a haven where visitors can enjoy and learn about the great variety of native Greek flora.
The project, sponsored by the Focas-Cosmetatos Foundation, began as an addition the foundation\'s interactive educational programme for schoolchildren. As the work progressed, however, the garden\'s creators began to think about developing Cephalonia Botanica\'s scientific potential as well.
\"We hope that this will become a serious botanical garden of Mediterranean flora,\" the foundation\'s chairman, Spyros N. Cosmetatos told the English edition of the daily Kathimerini in June. As part of this effort, the foundation has been in touch with Britain\'s Millenium Seed Bank, (associated with the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew,) to seek advice on how to go about creating its own seed bank.
What\'s more, the garden\'s landscapers plan to recreate most of the island\'s habitats including the widespread, drought-adapted phrygana and maquis, characteristic of Mediterranean shrubland, as well as grassland and woodland.
Phrygana, which are low-growing and often prickly shrubs, include aromatic plants such as thyme, sage, rosemary and oregano, (so indispensable to Meditarranean cuisine ), while representative of the larger maquis shrubs are the Kermes oak, strawberry tree, myrtle and bay.
Plants already present at the site were left to flourish and were supplemented by missing species. Though birthplace of the largest number of endemic species in Europe, Greece has only four botanical gardens. Kefalonia itself has given birth to an endemic fir species, Abies cephalonica, and the violet, Viola cephalonica, both of which, of course, will have a place of honour in the new garden.
Touched by fire
Ancient sources indicate that the Mediterranean region was once well-forested, crowded with trees such as oak, pine, cedar, wild carob and wild olive. But years of human intervention, notably the setting of fires and livestock grazing, along with the consequent erosion of the soil, transformed much of the landscape into the familiar Mediterranean shrubland, composed of species specially adapted to survive and thrive on poor soils under conditions of drought and fire.
Not coincidentally, many of the original plants found on the site of Cephalonia Botanica sprouted in the aftermath of a fire, which swept through the area about 15 years ago.
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