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Members' notice-board => Notices => Topic started by: John J on August 12, 2020, 09:47:27 AM

Title: Memories of past AGMs
Post by: John J on August 12, 2020, 09:47:27 AM
Taking inspiration from Hilary's postings of places she has visited in the past I looked back at the MGS AGMs that I have attended over the years.
I joined the MGS on 1 Jan 1998 but it was not until 2003 that I attended my first AGM. Prior to this I believe they had been held in the following locations:-
1995/96/97  at the MGS HQ garden, Sparoza
1998  Palma, Mallorca
1999  La Mortola, Italy
2000  Palermo, Sicily
2001  Athens
2002  California
The venue for 2003 was Tuscany and this was too tempting to ignore.
We stayed in the Hotel Due Mari, Rapolano Terme, near Siena. (1st photo).
The programme included visits to the Castello di Celsa, Villa Cetinale, the Bosco della Ragnaia. (2nd photo). The Villa di Geggiano (3rd photo), Siena (4th & 5th photos). The monastery of Certosa di Pontignano, Pienza (6th photo), La Foce, Villa Capponi, the Boboli Gardens in Florence. The last photo is of the view along the river from the Ponte Vecchio.
I apologise for the quality of the photos but they had to be scanned as they were taken before I acquired a digital camera.
Title: Re: Memories of past AGMs
Post by: Hilary on August 12, 2020, 10:26:50 AM
What a good idea . I am looking forward to seeing your photos

Meanwhile I found the article about this particular AGM in the index to the journal under A

THE AGM 2003 IN TUSCANY (1)  by Joanna Millar
AGM 2003 IN TUSCANY (2) by Allan Lover
Title: Re: Memories of past AGMs
Post by: John J on August 12, 2020, 01:53:53 PM
Hilary, thanks for the encouragement. I got out my Journal, reread that article and was disappointed to realise that Joanna had listed the countries members had attended from, but no mention of Cyprus, although there were 4 of us from here. If she was lumping Cyprus in with Greece that would be even more disappointing.
Anyway, I came across a few more photos from Tuscany in my archives.
Castello di Celsa, the 200 steps in the garden of the Villa Cetinale and statues outside the Uffizi Palace in Florence.
Title: Re: Memories of past AGMs
Post by: Hilary on August 12, 2020, 07:26:46 PM
I read the articles this evening and decided to scan one of the drawings in the journal
Castello di Celsa with lemon trees
Drawing by Jacques Thompson

Title: Re: Memories of past AGMs
Post by: John J on August 13, 2020, 05:39:18 PM
The 2004 AGM was held on the island of Corfu. For reasons that I cannot now recall I was unable to attend.
However, at the previous year's AGM the then President, Katherine Greenberg, had broached the subject of the low membership numbers in Cyprus. I agreed that on my return I would do my best to investigate the matter. This I did and during the year we recruited enough new members to make the creation of a Cyprus Branch a viable proposition. It came into being on 1st Jan 2005 with myself as Branch Head, a position I have held ever since.
Carmona, Spain was the venue for the 2005 AGM and was my debut attendance as a Branch Head, marking the beginning of my 'political' involvement within the Society.
Our hotel in Carmona was the Hostal Comercio, a friendly, family-run establishment that was attached to the old city wall. (First 2 photos, the 3rd being a view of the town from atop the wall).
 Day 1 we spent in and around Cordoba, visiting a number of gardens. (My wife can be seen on the far right of photo no. 5).
Day 2 saw more gardens in the area of Moratalla.
The General Assembly was held in an enormous marquee in the grounds of the Cortijo de Arenales, the estate of the Conde de la Maza. A tour of the estate followed after lunch, including seeing the fighting bulls that they bred.
To be continued.
Title: Re: Memories of past AGMs
Post by: John J on August 13, 2020, 07:18:12 PM
My apologies, the last 2 photos in the above post seem to have got transposed somehow.
Anyway, after the General Assembly we had 2 extra days of visits. Day 1 took in Seville, the photo shows the Bullring. Day 2 was to Granada and the Alhambra and Generalife, obviously.
Title: Re: Memories of past AGMs
Post by: John J on August 14, 2020, 08:47:27 AM
Uzes, France was the venue for AGM 2006. The dates clashed with a planned Charity Trek in Peru that my wife was taking part in so I went alone. I flew into Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, caught a coach across the city to Orly, and from there took a small commuter plane down to Avignon. On arrival I, and the other non-commuters on the plane, discovered that our luggage was still in Orly. Having been assured that my errant suitcase would be arriving on the next aircraft, and would be delivered to my hotel, I took a taxi to Uzes  and booked into the Hotel Mercure. When I explained my lack of luggage to the young lady receptionist she was very understanding, guessing that I had flown Air France, and saying that it was not unusual, often being referred to as Air Chance. By know it was quite late but they rustled up a snack for me and at 2am I was awoken by a phone call informing me that my suitcase had arrived.
Day 1 - Fontchateau. The only photos I seem to have taken here are of restored 19th C enamel tiled roofs. (first 2 photos)
Later we visited the gardens of a house owned by Pierre Berge, close friend of Yves Saint Laurent. This was only possible because we were in the company of Louisa Jones it seems. (Photo 3)
Saturday morning we were free to explore Uzes town with its extensive street markets held on that day. I took the opportunity to acquire a variety of the local cheeses.
The afternoon saw us in the gardens of La Bambouseraie. An exotic garden that is not devoted solely to bamboos. (Photos 4,5 & 6)
The General Assembly was held on the Site of the Pont du Gard, an amazing example of Roman engineering. The last photo being taken from the Pont, the river was low due to a long, hot summer apparently. (Photos 7,8 ^ 9)
To be continued below.
Title: Re: Memories of past AGMs
Post by: John J on August 14, 2020, 09:04:17 AM
Optional Day 1 was spent in Nimes with a visit to the Jardins de la Fontaine. (First 2 photos)
After lunch we were free to explore the city with its Roman heritage. (Photo 3)
Optional Day 2 was Montpellier, the Jardins de Plantes and Herbarium.
The tour ended with a visit to the Chateau de Flaugergues. The owner, Count Henri de Colbert was thought by some members to be a little eccentric. He made use of a megaphone while giving us a tour of the grounds. (Last 3 photos)
Title: Re: Memories of past AGMs
Post by: John J on August 15, 2020, 07:05:31 AM
For the 2007 AGM, held in Athens, the organisers employed a different approach to that of previous meetings. In her Welcome letter the then President described it as an experiment, with an educational structure and purpose.
The first 2 days, instead of the usual garden visits, were devoted to Workshops, Lectures and Panel Discussions. These were conducted by experts in their fields too numerous to mention, but a few spring readily to mind due to their current involvement with this Forum; Oron Peri, Alisdair Aird and the lady who posts under the name of 'Umbrian'.
The General Assembly was held in the Gaia Centre of the Koulandris Museum in Kifissia.
The Optional Days offered either a one-day trip to the island of Euboea, with visits to the ecological museum, the archaeological museum of Karystos, and a tour of the Montofoli Estate.
Alternatively there was a 4 day excursion to the Peloponnese guided by George Sfikas.
We chose the first option.
I'm sure that I took some photos during this AGM but I have been unable to locate them. No doubt they are lurking somewhere on a photo card from an old, no-longer used camera.
Title: Re: Memories of past AGMs
Post by: Hilary on August 15, 2020, 09:36:46 AM
John I thought to look up the 2007 AGM but no one wrote an article for the journal

However, I did find a link to some notes by Jennifer Gay and Piers Goldson about PROPAGATING IN THE MEDITERRANEAN
Title: Re: Memories of past AGMs
Post by: Hilary on August 15, 2020, 09:48:52 AM
I don't know if this will work
A short piece about the 2007 AGM
Title: Re: Memories of past AGMs
Post by: John J on August 15, 2020, 12:18:11 PM
Thanks for those, Hilary. I can only assume that no-one wrote about this particular AGM as it was not to everyone's taste. I understood the organisers thinking at the time as some members had complained of the lack of educational content at the meetings. However, it probably proved to be a bit too far the other way with virtually no garden visits. As the saying goes 'You can't please all of the people all of the time'.
Title: Re: Memories of past AGMs
Post by: Umbrian on August 16, 2020, 06:06:42 AM
Shame, shame, shame!!!
Title: Re: Memories of past AGMs
Post by: John J on August 16, 2020, 08:07:26 AM
Monterey, California was the chosen venue for 2008. Unfortunately a little out of my range at the time so I had to give it a miss.
In 2009 I did not need to go to the AGM, it came to me. The Cyprus Branch were the hosts with the base being in Limassol (Lemesos).
Day 1 started with a visit to a private garden designed by MGS member, Yiannos Orphanos. This was an enormous undertaking with even a small lake fed by a spring and by the process of attempting to ensure that all rainwater that fell on the property stayed on the property and did not run off into the surrounding countryside.
From there we moved on to another of Yiannos' projects, the gardens surrounding Olympic House, Nicosia (Lefkosia), the building that houses the majority of Cyprus' Olympic sports associations. These had been divided into 5 separate areas, one for each of the rings on the Olympic flag. The plantings, and even the gravel used, represented the colours of the rings.
We stayed in Nicosia for lunch, taken in Akropolis Park, after which we descended into the caves below that had been converted for use as conference rooms. There we were entertained to 2 presentations, one by Oron Peri and the other by Mary Michaelides, President of the Cyprus Cactus & Succulent Society.
On Day 2 we took the members to school, literally. Agii Anargyri Primary School in Larnaka has created a small Botanical Garden in its grounds, the brainchild of a young, female teacher along with the Leader of the Parent's Association. This is used as a hands-on teaching facility for the pupils.
Lunch and a period of free time was taken in the village of Lefkara, famous for a style of drawn thread-work embroidery, using beige 'Irish' linen and white or dark brown cotton thread, and known as Lefkaritika. Legend has it that Leonardo de Vinci visited Cyprus and took some back for the High Altar of Milan Cathedral.
The day ended with a visit to the garden of an internationally known Cypriot artist (one of his works had been accepted for use at the Beijing Olympics) Philippos Yiapanis, in the village of Fasoula.
The General Assembly was held in a restored Carob Mill in Limassol, opposite the medieval castle. Carobs had once been the mainstay of the Cyprus economy, being known as the 'black gold of Cyprus'.
The Optional Days were designed around 2 distinct themes.
Day 1 concentrated on the historical products of the island. It began in Kolossi with the medieval castle and adjacent sugar mill/factory. Sugar cane was grown extensively in and around the region, and the resulting produce was exported to northern European countries where it was unknown. At that time the main method used for sweetening was to use honey. The castle was the HQ (Commanderie) of the Order of the Knights of St John of Jerusalem (Knights Hospitallers) thus giving its name to the sweet dessert wine produced in the area, Commanderia.
The subject of wine was explored in more detail at the Wine Museum in Erimi.
Lunch was taken in Anogyra at the Oleastro Olive Mill and Museum, the buffet featuring many olive dishes.
In the same village we ended the day at a small carob factory to see some of the products made from the aforementioned 'black gold'.
Day 2 highlighted the work carried out by the Cyprus Forestry Department.
We began at the Forest Station, Platania where we collected our Forester guide and saw the nursery that is responsible for producing the plants used in the various Department projects, including their reforestation efforts. From there we moved on to see the area of their major reforestation work, the now defunct asbestos mines at Amiandos. The Cyprus Government had inherited the task of repairing the devastation caused by 80 years of mining activity. Work is being carried out to reforest the area and to create a Botanical Garden centred around a restored mine building that will serve as a Visitor Centre.
Moving higher up the mountain we visited the Environmental Centre, Troodos to learn something about the National Park and its proposed Natura 2000 sites.
Lunch was taken at the highest village on the island, Prodhromos, before rounding off the day at the Forestry Department College in the same village, to see the methods used to train future Foresters, both local and foreign.
I don't recall taking any photos during this programme, being too occupied with trying to ensure its smooth running. In fact I don't think I even took my camera with me!

Title: Re: Memories of past AGMs
Post by: Hilary on August 16, 2020, 09:48:58 AM
Many photos from this AGM here

Title: Re: Memories of past AGMs
Post by: John J on August 17, 2020, 06:39:45 AM
The venue for the 2010 AGM was another Mediterranean island, Crete, based in the town of Hania.
Our hotel, which was the Lucia if my memory serves me correct, was situated on the seafront.
The first day began with a lecture by John Fielding. A choice between 2 presentations followed. We chose the one on Waterwise Gardening.
After lunch the members were presented with another choice of activities. On this occasion we opted for a walk in the Therissos Gorge.
Day 2 and we were in the Botanical Park of Crete, created following a fire that had destroyed the family's olive trees. After lunch, taken in the Park, we headed up into the Lefka Ori for a botanising walk.
The General Assembly was held in the Arsenali on the Hania seafront. Late afternoon saw a talk on Courtyard gardens by Dr Nicholas Stavroulakis, given in the Etz-Hayyim Synagogue.
On the Optional Days there were more choices.
As we were leaving on the second of them we only had time to take part in one of the 2 days. We picked the trip to the Park for the Preservation of Flora and Fauna, a part of the Technical University of Crete.
Later we went on to the Monastery of Agia Triada. After lunch came a walk along the coast to view the maritime habitat and perhaps for those so inclined to have a swim.
Unfortunately this is another instance when I seem to have mislayed the majority of the photos I took. Of the ones I can find the first 4 are views of the Hania seafront taken from our hotel. The next 2 from the walk in Therissos Gorge and the last 3 from Agia Triada.
Title: Re: Memories of past AGMs
Post by: John J on August 18, 2020, 12:41:22 PM
The 2011 AGM was the 3rd consecutive one to be held on a Mediterranean island, Mallorca in the Balearics.
I believe our hotel was called the Roc Illetas and the first 2 photos are of views from our room.
The first item of business in the majority of AGMs is the Admin Committee Meeting, usually held on a Wednesday. On the following day an AC/Branch Head combined meeting is held. This usually occurs in the morning with a Welcome Reception in the evening for all members, who will have been arriving during the day. However on this occasion the meeting was held in the afternoon as the attending members of the AC and BHs (spouses not included) were privileged to have been invited by Heidi Gildermeister to see the garden of her home on the island. To be guided around by Heidi herself is one of the outstanding highlights of my time in the Society. Sadly, the only photos I have of this are ones that were posed as she demanded that no pictures of the garden be taken. (Photos 6 & 7).
Day 1 and we were in the Soller Botanical Garden. It was here that I saw the climber Petrea volubilis for the first time. We found one several years later but it is proving difficult to establish and is still very small. (Photos 3, 4 & 5).
Lunch was followed by a visit to the Alfabia gardens. The house and gardens had been in the same family for 600 years.
The next day we were divided into 2 groups to visit 2 private gardens. One group went to the garden of Helene and Christian Lindgens, dubbed the 'White Garden' due to the deliberate preponderance of flowers of that hue having been planted. I'm sorry to say that I found it a little bland for my taste.
After lunch the groups changed places and the garden of Gritli and Hans Leisenhoff was our destination. This was a complete contrast to the first being full of statues and topiary, as well as using a dry stream bed as a feature. (Photos 8, 9 & 10).
To be continued.
Title: Re: Memories of past AGMs
Post by: John J on August 19, 2020, 05:36:22 AM
On Optional Day 1 we were also divided into 2 groups. During the morning Group A visited the garden of Cindy Evans in Esporles. Her garden is steeply terraced on a south-west facing hillside. The first 2 photos show just a couple of her multitude of salvias.
At the same time Group B were exploring La Granja, a 1,000 year old farmhouse and grounds. This location has abundant water supplied by a natural spring. So powerful is this that it has been used to produce a fountain that shoots up to a height of around 30 metres. The next 5 photos illustrate this abundance of water. In the second one that is not a single plant but a lot of ferns growing together to resemble one.
In the afternoon the Groups swapped places.
Optional Day 2 involved a trip to the small island of Sa Dragonera that has been designated a Natural Park. The last 3 photos show a boat of members on their way to the island, another group arriving on the dock and a signpost showing a choice of destinations.
Title: Re: Memories of past AGMs
Post by: John J on August 19, 2020, 10:12:08 AM
This AGM then broke with the tradition of previous ones by adding on a 2 day trip to the neighbouring island of Menorca.
The flight between islands took around 30 mins and on arrival we were transported to the Port Mahon Hotel. (Photo 1)
After settling in and having lunch we set off to visit the highest point on Menorca, Monte Toro. (Photo 2 view from here)
Then on down to the fishing village of Fornells for some free time to explore before heading back to the hotel, via Talati de Dalt, one of the island's numerous ancient monuments. (Photo 3 my wife next to a structure)
Next day saw a guided tour of Cuidadella, the former capital of the island plus time for shopping and lunch. (Photo 4)
In the afternoon was an abandoned quarry in which a MGS member was creating a botanic route, medieval garden and small nursery of indigenous plants. (Photo 5)
On the morning of the last day we took a cruise around the harbour with a visit to the Isla del Rey. It was here that the first Royal Naval Hospital outside the UK was built 300 years ago. It was in use until 1964 before being abandoned. In 2004 a group of volunteers began a restoration project. We were able to explore the Pharmacy, Library, Catholic and Royal Naval Chapels, autopsy room and the medicinal gardens that have been replanted with more than 85 types of plant that would have been in use in the 18th C. (Photos 6-9)
The last photo is of the group waiting to board the boat back to the hotel to prepare to leave for Mallorca and onward passage home.
Title: Re: Memories of past AGMs
Post by: Hilary on August 19, 2020, 10:31:20 AM
Great collection of photos
Title: Re: Memories of past AGMs
Post by: John J on August 20, 2020, 12:24:45 PM
In 2012 the AGM was held in Australia. An operation that entailed a no-flying ban for several months scuppered any thoughts of attending.
The 2013 meeting was certainly memorable in one way. I had been persuaded to stand as a candidate for election to the AC. I came 4th in the voting and so served the next 3 years as Vice President of the Society.
It obviously was not so memorable in another way as I seem to have misplaced much of the paperwork associated with the AGM and, sadly, the majority of the photos taken. I have had to rely on ones taken by my wife.
The venue was Greece, based in the Athens suburb of Kifissia. If my memory is correct we stayed in the Hotel des Roses, a hotel that I have used on numerous occasions since.
The programme lists visits to Mt Parnitha and to a number of gardens over the first 2 days. Without photos to jog my memory I'm loathe to comment on any of them. At some point the first photo was taken on the threshing floor at Sparoza.
The General Assembly was held in the Gaia Centre of the Goulandris Museum in Kifissia.
The optional days involved a trip to the south-west Peloponnese. On the way we stopped for a quick refreshment break at the Corinth Canal (Photo 2)
We also paid a visit to Semeli winery (Photos 3 & 4)
Our destination was the resort at Costa Navarino. Our room had its own swimming pool outside the French windows. In fact many of the rooms had the same situation. (Photos 5 & 6)
There was also a visit to Ancient Messini and a guided walk around parts of the reserve. (Photo 7)
I do remember that the food and company were both excellent. (Photo 8)
Title: Re: Memories of past AGMs
Post by: John J on August 20, 2020, 12:31:26 PM
My apologies for the photos but I had to transfer them from my wife's computer and something seems to have gone amiss. On my computer they are the right way around but on posting they have gone askew. Unfortunately I don't know how to correct this anomaly. Sorry.
Figured it out and fixed it, and without having to consult my 'technical advisor'.  8)
Title: Re: Memories of past AGMs
Post by: Hilary on August 20, 2020, 05:29:36 PM
I'll jump in here with a link with more photos of the AGM 2013
Title: Re: Memories of past AGMs
Post by: John J on August 20, 2020, 05:38:23 PM
Many thanks for that, Hilary. Those photos kick-started my aging memory. I remember the walk up the mountain through the burnt out areas. Also the garden with Jennifer Gay and Piers Goldson. I like Katherine's photos too, we had a long chat on the first night in Navarino.
Title: Re: Memories of past AGMs
Post by: John J on August 21, 2020, 12:48:13 PM
We are up to 2014 and the AGM was scheduled for Menton, France, located between the Principality of Monaco and the Italian border. A beautiful area and a nice hotel, the Royal Westminster. (Photo 1)
Some excellent gardens visited, but from a personal point of view the format used was a little disappointing, centred around the fact that participating members were placed into 4 groups for the 2 days. This division inhibited one of the pleasures associated with these gatherings, that of interconnecting with old friends, and making the acquaintance of new ones, except for the short periods of the Welcome Reception and Farewell Dinner.
Day 1 and our Group (D) set off for the Serre de la Madone garden. This was the property of Major Lawrence Johnston, who had contributed to the redesigning of Hidcote Manor in England. (Photos 2 & 3)
At lunch we crossed paths briefly with Group C, before heading for the Hanbury Botanic Gardens at La Mortola. (Photos 4 & 5 show the Moorish Mausoleum where the ashes of Thomas Hanbury and his wife are buried)
On another personal note, that evening while searching for a place to eat we stumbled on a small Moroccan establishment in a back street of Menton. Earlier in the year we had spent a fantastic 10 days in Morocco on a MGS Excursion with Chris and Basak Gardner, so this seemed like a good opportunity to do a bit of comparing, foodwise. In the event it proved to be excellent, and very reasonably priced.
Day 2 and Group D were bound for Monaco, not for the casinos but for the Jardin Exotique de Monaco. This garden specialises in cacti and succulents and has been created on a steeply sloping hillside that overlooks the Bay of Monaco.
I must have been impressed by this garden as I took a lot of photos, starting with the last 5 below. More to follow.
Title: Re: Memories of past AGMs
Post by: John J on August 21, 2020, 02:36:03 PM
A whole post dedicated to the garden, with the view over the city from the garden at the end.
Title: Re: Memories of past AGMs
Post by: John J on August 21, 2020, 03:04:14 PM
A short visit to Monaco old town and the cathedral (Photos 1 & 2) was followed by once more taking lunch with Group C.
The afternoon saw us in the gardens of the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild. (Photo 3 was taken from the balcony visible in photo 4)
The General Assembly was held in the Fort dell'Annunziata, Ventimiglia, Italy.
On this occasion we did not book for the 2 Optional Days.
Title: Re: Memories of past AGMs
Post by: Hilary on August 21, 2020, 04:32:20 PM
 Great photos
And for more look at this link
Title: Re: Memories of past AGMs
Post by: John J on August 22, 2020, 12:46:59 PM
The AGM 2015 provided another of the highly memorable moments in my time in the MGS. The venue was the island of Ischia off the coast of Italy. It was based at the world-renowned garden of La Mortella, created by Lady Susana Walton as a place of peace and refuge for her composer husband, Sir William Walton.
As for the memorable aspect, that began when the curator of the garden, the lovely Alessandra Vinciguera, offered the members of the AC (myself being one of them as Vice President) accommodation within the garden. Obviously we all accepted this generous offer. We had to pay but it was worth every penny to wake up each morning in such a major garden and to stroll down to breakfast in the Tea Room, unforgettable.
Photo 1 shows a map of the garden. The accommodation was in the building below No18, the semi-circular theatre. In fact the flat roof of the building is the stage. Open air musical concerts are held here.
Photo 2 is the front of the accommodation block.
Photos 3 & 4 are views towards the sea taken from the roof of the block.
Photo 5 is of what is known as William's Stone, and is the last resting place of the composer's ashes.
Photo 6 is in another part of the garden and is where Lady Walton's ashes are buried.
On the morning of Day 1 we visited the Archeological Museum of Pithecusa in Lacco Ameno.
Photo 7 shows the museum sign, 8 & 9 are inside the museum and 10 is the view from outside the museum.
Title: Re: Memories of past AGMs
Post by: John J on August 22, 2020, 03:03:22 PM
Photo 1, lunch stop in Ischia Ponte.
On to the coach bound for the largest volcano on the island for a hiking tour to the centre of the crater.
Photo 2, members feeling the heat coming from a small fumerole.
Photo 3, the fumerole in question.
Photo 4, the centre of the crater. It is, of course, dormant and covered in vegetation.
Photo 5, Aragonese Castle, where all the inhabitants of Ischia lived up to 200 years ago.
Day 2 started with a glass bottom boat tour of Marine's Archeo-bio underwater ruins. Alas no photos.
Return to La Mortella for lunch followed by a guided tour of the garden.
The photos below are of some of the things we had found during our free time in the garden. A selection of photos of plants will follow in another post.
Photos 6 & 7, birds in the aviary. Note the use of a broken pot from the Tea Room as a nesting box.
Photo 8, a tiled Zodiac.
Photo 9, a stone crocodile eyeing a stone fish.
Photo 10, a river of blue stones.
Title: Re: Memories of past AGMs
Post by: John J on August 23, 2020, 08:08:51 AM
Plants from the garden at La Mortella.
Title: Re: Memories of past AGMs
Post by: John J on August 23, 2020, 08:21:42 AM
The General Assembly was held in the indoor Concert Hall at La Mortella.
We did not join the Optional Days, but on the way back to Rome we stopped off to spend a couple of days with an old friend. We had met up at previous AGMs but failing health had prevented her from attending the more recent ones. Sadly this was the last time we saw her.
The photos show more plants from La Mortella, before we bid a fond, but reluctant farewell to the island of Ischia. Maybe one day we'll be lucky enough to pay a return visit.
Title: Re: Memories of past AGMs
Post by: David Dickinson on August 23, 2020, 03:02:59 PM
Sorry to hear of the sad memory of this visit to Italy brings you John. But if you can link that memory to this quite extraordinary garden then that must bring some consolation. Your posting inspired me to watch the DVD "La Mortella" again - I have no idea how many times I have watched it  but it never fails to calm me down. Having "La Mortella" closer to hand would be one very good reason to leave Rome and move back to Naples. Have you seen the film? Recorded with Susana Walton and some music of William Walton.

Film now over, it is back to reality and starting to paint the bathroom walls. Funnily enough, after all the mention of blue in connection with Susana Walton in the video, the walls will indeed be a powder blue.
Title: Re: Memories of past AGMs
Post by: John J on August 23, 2020, 05:09:30 PM
I most certainly do have a copy of the DVD, David, must dig it out and watch it again sometime.
Strange as it may seem the memory of that time spent with our friend is not exactly a sad one. We had a very pleasant couple of days with her, going out for a pizza with two of her friends, visiting another of her friends whose son is a garden designer, seeing their garden and talking to him about his work, and so on. I think her passing would have been harder to take if we had not had those happy memories to look back on.
As you say the garden at La Mortella is extraordinary, and it was such an amazing experience to be able to stay there for the duration of the AGM programme. Wandering down to breakfast in the Tea Room each morning before the gates were open to the public, having the run of the garden in the evening after they had all left, magical.
Title: Re: Memories of past AGMs
Post by: John J on August 24, 2020, 08:45:47 AM
Greece was once more the venue for the 2016 AGM, based in Athens.
The first visit was to the ancient cemetery of Keramikos. This was named after the potters (hence ceramics) who made this area their home. The river Eridanos, which used to flow through here, provided them with clay and the cemetery provided work, burial urns, etc. (The first 3 photos are of this area).
On to MT Hymettus and the Philodassiki Botanical Garden adjacent to the Monastery of Kessariani. This was originally established in 1964 and its stated aims are to provide conservation, education and pleasure. I have visited on a number of occasions and believe they meet all 3 admirably. I don't seem to have deemed it necessary to take any photos this time.
After lunch it was the turn of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre. This was built to house the National Library of Greece and the Greek National Opera. It was scheduled to open the following year (2017) and we were here to see the gardens, especially the enormous one created on the gigantic sloping roof of the complex. (Photos 4-7 were taken here).
The last 3 photos are general shots of the most iconic areas of Athens, the Acropolis and Lycabettus Hill (the highest point in the modern city).
Title: Re: Memories of past AGMs
Post by: Hilary on August 24, 2020, 11:43:01 AM

Great Photos
Title: Re: Memories of past AGMs
Post by: John J on August 26, 2020, 05:40:19 AM
Day 2 and we started at the MGS garden, Sparoza. The day was threatening with thunderstorms forecast. I have visited Sparoza more times than I can count so I took no photos this day.
From here we went to the Vorres Museum, founded by Ion Vorres and now administered by 3 of his grandsons. The museum is divided into 2 areas, the ancient part being housed in two old houses and a stable, while the contemporary Greek art is in a modern building. The whole is surrounded by a series of courtyard gardens. I believe the promised rainstorms had arrived by now and that was why I took no photos here.
After lunch, taken in the museum, we had a choice of 2 private gardens. We chose the one in Keratea, designed by Jennifer Gay and Piers Goldson. I can only assume that the lack of photos of this garden was also due to the rain.
The General Assembly was held in the Ionic Centre, in the Plaka area of Athens.
In the late afternoon a group of members were led on a guided walk of Philopappou Hill by Simon Rackham and Elisavette Bargianni. (Here I did take a few photos and have chosen a couple, 1 & 2)
The Optional Days were to be held on Corfu. Having missed the AGM there in 2004 we took advantage of this opportunity to make our first visit to the island.
Having spent the morning flying up from Athens and booking into the hotel, the Corfu Palace, we departed at midday for a guided visit to the Achilleon. Built in the 1800s for Elisabeth, Empress of Austria and Queen of Hungary, she named it after her hero, Achilles. (Photos 3 - 6 show the hotel and the views from it)
(Photos 7 & 8 were taken along the seafront road not far from the hotel) The plaque to Lawrence Durrell was a bit of a surprise as, although he did of course spend time on the island, I thought his brother, Gerald might be more closely associated with it, but no sign of him.
Anyway our second stop was the home of former MGS President, Cali Doxiades, the Gastouri Estate. This property has a long history dating back to the original owners, the Mantzaros family. Nikolaos Mantzaros composed the music of the Greek National Anthem. The current owner has created an ornamental garden around the house that follows the aims of water-wise planting that blends into the natural landscape.
Following an excellent lunch in the house our next port of call was another old house built in the 1800s, Mon Repos. This is significant, especially for the British, as being the birthplace of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. (Photo 9)
More to follow.
Title: Re: Memories of past AGMs
Post by: John J on August 26, 2020, 05:19:06 PM
On the second day we travelled to the north of the island to the area of Rou. This is a village of cottages built around 200 years ago to house the workers of a local quarry. They were abandoned in the 1960s and acquired by a British architect around 2008. He set to to renovate the houses, 15 in all, and to restore the terraces on the adjacent hillsides. The work of designing and creating the gardens and public spaces was given to Jennifer Gay and Piers Goldson. Many of the houses are now owned by family and friends of the architect and his wife, but some are rented out as holiday lets. (Photos 1- 5 show some of the gardens, while 6 is a view over the water to the coast of Albania).
Not too far away we saw another private garden created on a steep hillside, this one by Althea Johns.
After lunch we headed to the estate of Kanonas which had once been the home of the Greek painter, Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghikas. The artist had designed a number of pebble mosaics for the entrance courtyard, and these had been added to over the years. (The next 4 photos show some of them. The man on the left in the first of the photos is the Estate Manager, Andy Belton).
Lots more to follow.
Title: Re: Memories of past AGMs
Post by: Hilary on August 26, 2020, 07:29:33 PM
I am enjoying all the photos of Corfu
Title: Re: Memories of past AGMs
Post by: John J on August 27, 2020, 06:00:55 AM
That's good to hear, Hilary. They are bringing back happy memories of a beautiful island that I'd like to revisit one day. Stand by there are more to come.
Title: Re: Memories of past AGMs
Post by: John J on August 27, 2020, 06:26:34 AM
From here we moved on down through the property past an area where the topsoil had been deliberately removed in order to expose the underlying rock thus creating a most unusual feature. (Photo 1)
Further on there were more rock formations, this time created to form arches, as we moved on down. (Photos 2 & 3)
Suddenly we came upon the most incredible swimming pool I have ever seen. (Photos 4 - 7) ( Excuse the number of shots of it but I am still blown away by the sight even at this distance in time and location)
Photo 8 is the view from the pool out to sea over the top of the waves of clipped rosemary that line the path.
Our last visit of the day was to the garden of Hans Joachim and Eva Wessendorf. The only photo I seem to have taken here is of an ancient olive with a children's play platform.
Still more to come.
Title: Re: Memories of past AGMs
Post by: Hilary on August 27, 2020, 10:12:27 AM
Oh!, for a swim in that pool
Title: Re: Memories of past AGMs
Post by: John J on August 27, 2020, 01:49:19 PM
On our last full day we went to the opposite end of the island, the south, for a visit to the Corfu Environmental Centre, the area of Halikounas and Lake Korission. (Photos 1 - 5)
The landscape here was totally different to that of the day before.
Then it was back to the hotel to prepare for the Farewell Dinner in the evening, but not before we had time for a last look around and to bid a fond farewell to Corfu Town. (Photos 6 -8)
Title: Re: Memories of past AGMs
Post by: John J on August 29, 2020, 12:40:49 PM
The AGM 2017 was held in California, and once more I didn't make it.
So, on to 2018 and Alicante, Spain, with a pre-tour to Mallorca and a post-tour to Valencia. We attended the first one but not the last.
The pre-tour was in the hands of our good friend and colleague, Sally Beale, and we very much looked forward to it.
We arrived on the Saturday and booked into the Hotel Riu Bonanza Playa, where there was a Welcome Drinks Reception in the evening. (Photos 1-3)
On the Sunday we paid a visit to the garden of Helene and Christian Lindgens. This was, in effect, a return visit as it had been on the Itinerary for the 2011 AGM held on the island. Although still a predominantly White garden it was somewhat different to our last viewing of it, as it now held a permanent exhibition of the work of a local sculptor, Pedro Flores. (Photos 4-9)
After lunch we made another return visit to a previously seen garden, that of Hans and Gritli Leisenhoff. On the posting of the 2011 AGM I put a photo of the dry river bed that is one of the features of their property. It seems there had been some severe rainstorms on the island just prior to our arrival so the photo I have squeezed in here is of that same river bed with a few puddles.
Title: Re: Memories of past AGMs
Post by: John J on August 30, 2020, 05:08:48 AM
Monday, and a visit that I was especially looking forward to, the garden of special friends, Sally and Graham Beale. The coach dropped us off on the outskirts of their home village of S'arraco and we were led through its picturesque, and largely unspoilt, streets before ascending a steep incline to the gates of the property. (Photo 1)
As we entered all my expectations were exceeded as this was truly a garden that reflected the personalities of its owners. It was welcoming, friendly and fun, attributes that it is difficult to convey in photographs, for me anyway.
Sally had once described it as 'gardening in crampons' and as we climbed the hill from terrace to terrace, with each new level providing something different to admire, it became obvious she had not been exaggerating. (Photos 2,3 & 4 show a couple of terraces, one with the swimming pool and the other with a pond. Photo 5 is a view from the house over the village) Somehow this photo seems to have been tacked on at the end!!
The second garden of the morning provided a complete contrast, being situated in a fertile valley with its own supply of water from a well. (For some reason any photos I took here didn't seem to come out too well)
Lunch at the Hostal Dragonera, in the fishing village of San Telmo, was another reminder of the 2011 AGM when we had visited the island of Dragonera.
The afternoon was taken up by a visit to the village of Santa Maria and the garden of Mateu Morro. Mateu is from a true gardening family, he lives and gardens in his grandparents farm while running the nursery started by his father. His brother works with him as a garden designer and his sister has a propagation nursery. Mateu's numerous plant-hunting trips around the world have resulted in the eclectic collection of plants that grow in his garden. (Photos 6-10)
Title: Re: Memories of past AGMs
Post by: John J on August 30, 2020, 11:23:08 AM
Tuesday saw yet another of the aspects of this trip that I had been eagerly awaiting, my return visit to Finca d'Ariant, the hidden valley in which Heidi Gildemeister had created her iconic garden. Since my previous visit in 2011 guardianship of the property had passed to the Fundacio Vida Silvestre Mallorqui (Black Vulture Foundation). I was anxious to see what changes, if any, had taken place. Happily I found that the main ethos of the garden had been preserved and it was being admirably maintained by the FVSM gardening team under the overall leadership of Director Dr Evelyn Tewes. Hopefully this will continue and the future be secured not only of the vultures but also of this special garden.
This is not a garden of brightly-coloured flowers, but one that has been created in large part by a subtle, discreet tweaking of nature.
Lunch was taken in the grounds with the crags of the Tramuntana mountains as a backdrop. We were even lucky enough to spot a couple of black vultures soaring above them.
Title: Re: Memories of past AGMs
Post by: John J on August 31, 2020, 03:28:57 PM
After lunch we were scheduled to visit the garden of Giovanni Torielli in Ca'n Rino, but it seems that the storms that had hit Mallorca just prior to our arrival had inflicted so much damage to the property that it was no longer a viable option.
As an alternative we took a detour, a 'scenic route', back to the hotels. On the way we stopped off for a comfort/coffee break at the Santuari de Lluc.
The following day we took the short, although delayed take-off, flight to Alicante on the mainland. The main hotel was the Melia on the seafront, but we had opted for a more modest establishment situated a short walk away inland. I cannot now recall its name but it was below the Castillo Santa Barbara. (Photos 1-3)
The next day my wife decided that attaining the summit of this hill was to be her challenge for the morning while mine was attending the AC/BH meeting. Later we had a wander around the town. (The last 4 photos. No prizes for guessing the merchandise sold in the shop shown on the last 2)
Title: Re: Memories of past AGMs
Post by: John J on September 01, 2020, 04:51:14 PM
The first day of the AGM proper, and we were on the way to Crevillente and the garden of Branch Heads, Carol and Alan Hawes. This is situated on a plot of land that is flat, relatively long and narrow. It has been thoughtfully planned and laid out as a series of rooms devoted to plants from the Americas, Australia and Africa. (Photo 1 & 2 show Eucalyptus torquata with its beautiful pink blooms, while photo 3 is of one of the dry areas)
From here we moved on to the village of Catral and the garden of La Carrasca. This is a difficult garden to describe, it is largely used as the venue for celebratory gatherings, weddings, christenings, etc. It offers a mix of ornamental and edible plants. (Photos 4-6)
After lunch, taken in this garden, we were off to the city of Elche. Our first stop was the Huerto del Cura garden. (Photos 7, 8 & 9, the last 2 being of an enormous plant that I believe is a Crinum amabile.
More of Elche to follow.
Title: Re: Memories of past AGMs
Post by: John J on September 02, 2020, 10:55:01 AM
A visit to the Palmeral Museum was next, followed by a stroll around the city centre. (Photos 1 & 2)
Here we came across a 'living wall' and a floral depiction of the Lady of Elche. In 1897 a statue of a female head dating from the 4thC BC was discovered locally. Now the 'Lady' is everywhere you look in the city. (Photos 3 & 4)
Title: Re: Memories of past AGMs
Post by: John J on September 02, 2020, 11:07:19 AM
We rounded off the day with a visit to Carmen del Campillo, a Moorish Tea Garden, that brought back memories of our trip to Morocco in 2014.
Title: Re: Memories of past AGMs
Post by: John J on September 03, 2020, 09:29:46 AM
Next day we set off for the Brutinel Garden near Alcoy. This house and garden were built in the mid-1800s adjacent to the owner's paper factory. The paper business went into decline and in the early 20thC the whole property was sold to the family of the current owners. In 1919 two houses were built for the use of the family and they are still occupied today when they visit.
Title: Re: Memories of past AGMs
Post by: John J on September 03, 2020, 02:49:53 PM
Part of one of the old buildings was given over to a large collection of orchids.
Title: Re: Memories of past AGMs
Post by: John J on September 04, 2020, 02:27:01 PM
The rest of the morning was spent in the Jardin de Santos, Penaguila and the afternoon in the Casa Tapena Country Park, near Onil.
The following day, after the General Assembly, held at the Parador Hotel, Javea, the last garden of the trip was the Albarda Garden, Pedreguer.
The photos below and in the following post are all from these 3 gardens.
Title: Re: Memories of past AGMs
Post by: John J on September 04, 2020, 02:30:56 PM
The second batch.
Title: Re: Memories of past AGMs
Post by: John J on September 04, 2020, 02:36:05 PM
The Albarda Gardens had this amazing wall of mosaics.
As I said this was the last day of the main portion of the AGM. The post-tour was held in Valencia but we did not go on that.
Title: Re: Memories of past AGMs
Post by: John J on September 06, 2020, 04:53:48 AM
So we come to the latest AGM, 2019, and as it was an election year it had to be held in Greece. The main programme in Athens with a pre-tour to Corfu and a post-tour to the Pelion area.
I feel that this might be cheating slightly as we did not attend the Corfu trip, or the majority of the main programme, just the AC/BH meeting, Welcome Reception, General Assembly and Farewell Dinner. We did go on the post-tour as this was an area of Greece we had not visited before.
We spent the days of the Athens programme with friends and/or visiting new places. Places such as the Diomedes Botanical Garden on the outskirts of Athens.
Title: Re: Memories of past AGMs
Post by: John J on September 06, 2020, 07:29:25 AM
A short walk from the Botanical Garden is Dafni Monastery with its Byzantine gold-leaf mosaics.
Title: Re: Memories of past AGMs
Post by: John J on September 06, 2020, 09:22:00 AM
As I said earlier, following the main programme in Athens we headed for the Pelion area. On the way we stopped off at the memorial to Leonidas that commemorates the Battle of Thermopylae. (Photos 1 - 5)
Our ultimate destination was the village of Lafkos and the Lagou Raxi Country Hotel, owned by MGS member Sue Wake, where we were to stay. (Last 3 photos)
Title: Re: Memories of past AGMs
Post by: John J on September 06, 2020, 09:43:15 AM
From the locations that we visited and/or explored over the next 2 days I have chosen the garden of Vida Chung and her husband Vito. This property is situated on an extremely steep slope overlooking the waters of a narrow inlet. The last photo is of what I can only describe as a summer bedroom perched in the branches of a tree.
Title: Re: Memories of past AGMs
Post by: John J on September 06, 2020, 09:53:29 AM
The AGM this year (2020) was due to be held in Marrakech, Morocco, but sadly the current pandemic has caused it to be postponed until next year. The General Assembly has to take place and will be held at Sparoza.
Hopefully, things will soon return to some semblance of normal allowing members to meet up once more somewhere in the mediterranean world.
Title: Re: Memories of past AGMs
Post by: Hilary on September 09, 2020, 11:26:12 AM
At last I found the time to read the last few posts about AGMs in the past.
There seem to have been some really interesting places and gardens to visit.

I am pleased to note that the Daphni monastery is now open again.
 It was closed for years after an earthquake in Athens

How do you manage to get so many photos without people in them?
 You must either be the first or the last to take the photos