Saturday, 19 June 2010


aMay 9 update

A lot of water passed since our last visit to the Bosketto and the disappointment of finding Marjorie Holmes' laboriously planted succulents replaced throughout by costly and temporary Cineraria.

Let us recapitulate on a bizarre story becoming bizarrer:

Stool & Haunches

  • MH brings plants from her own garden

  • As per the photos on the left, MH proceeds to get down on stool and haunches and plant long-lasting indigenous succulents that will bring beauty to the Bosketto.

  • See postings passim

  • At a meeting in the Mayoralty, it is pointed out that, despite Marjorie Holmes' expertise and assistance having been requested from the very highest level - the Mayor himself - still no help has come from the massed ranks of the Municipal gardening staff.

  • Help & Liaison: There and then, the Municipality PR director arranges a meeting in the garden for the very next day.

  • MH will be introduced to a member of staff who will be assigned to her for all future necessary assistance and liaison with the Mayor's office.

  • Punctually at 10 AM next morning. Nobody shows up.

  • The strange case of the 'well-dressed gentleman': One day in the garden, MH is addressed by a well-dressed Greek who asks her if she likes the floral arrangement.

  • He informs her that - lo! - the scene will soon be transformed with the planting of cineraria.

  • Since such plants are costly and temporary, little credence is placed on this prediction

  • But Lo! One morning MH arrives at the Bosketto to find all her work dug up (and chucked who knows where? Never returned and never seen again)

  • In their place, ready-made plants as far as the eye could stretch.

  • Cineraria being temporary and the killer hot weather approaching, the next move was to monitor the situation and capture the moment when the dying wilting plants were removed.

  • Lo! I did not even have to wait that long.

  • GONE ~ May 9, the cineraria were gone - but not ALL the cineraria, just the bed on which MHolmes had worked.

  • Πόσα κοστίζει; ~ I have set myself a public service investigation.

  • From photographs and measuring on the ground, I have an approximate measure of the area covered by the cineraria.

  • MH patronises three different nurseries who have agreed to come up with quotes for what that sort of trade purchase might have cost, including the bulk discount passed on for such a massive operation.

  • Phormiums ~ As reported in posts passim, MH brought some magnificent phormiums from her own garden to be planted in the Bosketto.

  • Instead of being planted in one block as is correct, they were divided up and the sad single strands plonked around.

  • Touchingly, these are being dutifully watered but one need only compare the full bush as it could have been today to the Sad Sap single specimens struggling to make a presence.

  • Oct 17 2010: I'd ended with my usual hollow promise of "More to come on the mysteriously selective Cineraria Clearance, including further photos to support the text" but I obviously ran out of steam or patience.

    However, I visited the 'garden' on an unfairly rainy day and snapped an update.

  • Monday, 29 March 2010

    March 29 Visit

    Visit to retrieve the three phormiums seen on the last visit as looking neglected and wrongly planted as separate strands rather than as the entire bush.

    Compare the example in the photo of the large bush at San Luca with the droopy strands in the Bosketto.

    Arrived around 4pm with the garden pleasantly full, both in the main part and the playground.

  • Pleasantly surprised to find the plants had been recently watered and were not looking bad at all.
  • The photograph opposite is of a healthy specimen from MH's garden of the type donated to the Bosketto.

    There seemed no reason to uproot the Bosketto version while there were people around admiring the display.

  • Seeing George in his hut or busy sweeping the garden was a reminder that he is probably the only gardening staff to make himself known and ready to learn from MH.

    MH got to know George better at the second meeting while planting the evergreens/succulents and explaining what was needed.

    Towards the end, the lack of easy communication proved a problem and was made more difficult by the sudden uprooting of the evergreens and overnight replacement with the cineraria.

    George seemed genuinely embarrassed at not being able to help without express permission from Mr Kuluris.

    Adding to the general puzzlement was the fact that everyone concerned had been at the original early February meeting called by Mr Kuluris and introductions and explanations could have been made and Marjorie Holmes's role and bona fides clearly established.

    Summary~ Left-hand photo.

    Marjorie Holmes turning the soil and planting succulents brought from her own garden at no charge because the party line was that there was no money.

    Photo right: All MH's work uprooted and, instead of being returned to her, dumped who knows where?

    In their place - and throughout the Bosketto - temporary and costly cineraria.

    Phormiums ~ The watering of the donated phormiums (see photos passim) seems to have been the one positive co-operative action to have come out of the Mayor's scheme for Marjorie Holmes to help over the Bosketto.

    Still to this day, no one has explained who was this man who appeared and told MH of his plan to carpet the place with cineraria.

    Fountains and Cineraria: Several readers of this report have pointed out the irony of the fountains in the Bosketto as well as those in the main square having been whipped into shape in time for Easter, each also surrounded by cineraria.

  • Wednesday, 24 March 2010


    If these reports are to be comprehensive, they must also include third-party comments.

    Here is a perfect example from none other than Maria Strani-Potts, contributing valuable perspective on this whole Bosketto venture.

    Corfu, Boschetto and other concerns

    Tuesday, 23 March 2010

    phormium in slMarch 23 Visit

    C Holmes report

    To the Bosketto on my mother's behalf to trace the handsome phormium she left there on March 12 in a new spirit of optimism after the convivial Mayoral meeting the day before.

    Also known as 'New Zealand Flax', I learn from my encyclopaedic botano-mum.

    george n MHI spot George over by the graffiti-empurpled banyan and he greets me warmly and asks after my mother.

    I am not surprised to see George: he is the only ground staff we have actually met or seen regularly plying yhis trade in the garden.

    phormiumIt has long been a source of puzzlement to me that he and his colleagues never had my mother's presence or purpose properly explained.

    Hence the understandable outburst at a recent request for a hand: "Can't you see we are busy?"

    Not to mention George's own apologetic explanation that his hands were tied until he received permission from Mr Lefteris Kuluris himself to offer freelance help.

    I ask G about the phormium and steel myself for a shrug and apology that it has been dispensed with along with the many shrubs my mother planted only to be uprooted in favour of costly temporary (3-month life expectancy in the cool) cineraria.

    I underestimate the stalwart. He has planted them at strategic points and he shows me each plot with a triumphant beam.

    flat phormium

    Unfortunately, he has been badly advised by his management mentors.

    How was he to know that the phormium was to be planted en tout with the whole thing in one hole?

    See the photos taken on the Bosketto team's visit to San Luca when they walked among these very plants and saw them in their intended splendour.

  • A pity and a waste that he was not advised on the correct handling of this generous gift.

  • I intended to say nothing to my mother except that she saw the humour of the situation:

    The purpose of the visit to San Luca [see photos] was to observe the plants in their natural habitat so that they could instruct the municipal staff accordingly.

    group at san lucaIndeed, here they are walking around and under and near and by the many fine phormiums dotted around.

    "Can't you see we are busy!"

    Logically, I suppose, staff are discouraged from lending a helping hand to outsiders because it distracts their focus on Municipal training such as the correct planting of phormiums.

  • Sunday, 21 March 2010

    March 21 photographic report

  • A brief visit that showed Marjorie Holmes's work of February 28 to have been replaced with the characteristically temporary cineraria

  • These have a short life, after which they are thrown away and new plants bought.

  • Full report to follow from Marjorie Holmes.

  • The photographs speak for themselves, as does the overall Bosketto Makeover site itself.

  • Friday, 12 March 2010

    March 12 visit

    ~ Marjorie Holmes report ~

    Meeting with Mayor ~ Yesterday, Thursday 11th March at 10:00am, I attended a very friendly meeting with the Mayor of Corfu, Mr Sotiris Mikallef.

    Also in the elegant mayoral office were:

  • Dr Spiros Giorgas
  • Mrs Rodoula Markati (Head of Public International Relations)
  • A gentleman from the press who seemed to be reporting our meeting for his paper.

    We had a wide discussion of the problems of the Bosketto Garden and I was given a beautiful photographic brochure of Corfu inscribed by the Mayor.

    Help and Liaison ~ On a more practical level, it also seemed we found a solution to providing me with assistance in the Bosketto as well as liaison with management:

    Mrs Markati arranged a meeting for 10am today (March 12) at the Bosketto where I was led to believe a member of the garden staff would meet me who would be my ongoing help and point of contact for passing on my ideas and suggestions.

    As I say, this was my impression as I drove down to the Garden the day after the mayoral meeting.

    Needless to say, no one was there to meet me.

    I had brought some large plants which I first placed by the main gate as I looked around for anyone who might be my delegated contact.

    The plants were planned for a shady area near the south entrance, more or less opposite the toilets. At present, this area looks like a large circular sandpit with a number of dead twigs poking through.

    In fact, these are roses but, even in full flower (unlikely since they are in the deepest shade) the only people likely to see them would be those emerging from the toilets.

    Phormium to the rescue ~ I thought a Phormium - two metres high with long spikey green and cream leaves - would look dramatic and a suitable replacement.

    Accordingly, I dug out a good specimen from my own garden and brought it along, together with suitable evergreen ground cover to fill the base soil around.

    Delegated Gardener ~ I assumed that the 'gardener' delegated by Mrs Markati would be waiting to meet me at the gate but I could see no one. I placed the phormium just inside the gate and walked around in case the rendez-vous was elsewhere.

    There was activity down by the playground - now explained to me as managed by the Rotarians and separate from the Bosketti. There was a truck and workmen and I also saw Frederiki supervising the clearance of pruned trees.

    clearingIt was the first time I had seen her since our preliminary meeting at the Bosketto on February 16.

    She asked what the big plant was and I told her, adding that it was my idea to place it in the barren rose bed and remove the sad roses from their unsuitable location.

    I also pointed out the dead shrub on one side of the south entrance gate and suggested a pair of oleanders which are evergreen and in flower during the whole summer.

    Interfering Busy-body ~ At this point I have to say that Ms Brigioti's general attitude and way she spoke to me seemed somewhat ungracious. But I now realise that no one has at any time bothered to tell the ground staff what I am doing there.

    As a result - I am regarded as little more than an interfering busy-body.

    Losing Battle ~ I had been warned beforehand, and I see now that people were right: it has been a losing battle all along.

  • No co-operation

  • No interest

  • Certainly no help

  • I have provided plants of all sizes from my own garden which would have cost a lot to the Municipality were they to purchase them.

  • I have also suggested several labour- and time-saving solutions which have fallen on deaf ears.

    Before leaving, I placed the large Phormium next to the caretaker's hut at the south end. I shall return to plant it on my own and after that will think carefully about setting foot in the Bosketto Garden again.

    ~ Gentleman Gardener ~

    ~ March 16, further thoughts ~

  • Rotarian Playground ~ During my meeting with the Mayor I discovered that the children's playground is under the auspices of the Rotary Club and not part of the Municipality.

    No Reaction In that case, since I never received any reaction to my notes warning me that I was wasting my time, I hope my notes and ideas were passed to the Rotarians for their own benefit.

    The rubbish collection area is particularly important.

    binsAt present there are a sort of canister attachments to trees and lamp-posts - quite discreet, it has to be admitted, but inadequate for the food cartons and other detritus of picnic food. In fact, I never even noticed them until after several visits to that area.

    I would suggest two large containers either side of the entrance gate suitably enclosed with a lattice-work covering.

    Well-dressed Greek Gentleman: The last time I was in the gardens, standing near the entrance gates, a well-dressed Greek gentleman nearby commented on how beautiful the planting round the fountain was.

    I said I had reservations about that because the stocks and marigolds were short lived and for many months of the year there was nothing in flower.

    Cineraria ~ No matter, he assured me, as soon as these were over, he was putting in cineraria which he loved ~ so bright and pretty ...

    Of course he knew they were short lived but they would be flowering at Easter and after that he would put something else in.

    A Man who can choose ~ Who is this character who can choose what he personally wants and is assured that they will be looked after?

    Plants for window sills ~ Cineraria are greenhouse potted plants usually bought by people with no gardens for their winter window sills. They will of course survive out of doors in this mild climate but are definitely not summer plants.

    No Budget: Does he or the Municipality have their own nurseries and greenhouses where such exotics can be raised?

    At the very start, when I met Mr Kuluris at my house and he outlined the Bosketto project for which they wanted my advice, he made it clear there was no budget to spare.

    No Money ~ When I first visited the gardens in the company of senior officials, and made a few modest suggestions about suitable plants, Frederiki explained that they had no money to spend on plants.

    If they are so hard up, how can this man grandly suggest making new plantings every 6 weeks or so of greenhouse-type plants which will be discarded once flowering is over?

    If they want colour, what is wrong with geraniums - both upright and hanging/pendant - perfectly hardy here, especially in the sheltered seaside position of the Bosketto. They are in flower for at least 6 months of the year if regularly dead-headed, or is that too much to expect?

    The Practical Periwinkle ~ Otherwise, my original suggestion of periwinkle is both practical and time saving: It is evergreen, spreading, rooting as it goes along but easily controlled and covered with pretty blue flowers from March to June.

    The variegated cream and green-leaved variety is particularly attractive even out of flower.

    Irises have started flowering (mid-March) and are endemic to Greece. A stately pure white as well as a beautiful mauve and purple flowered variety has just appeared in my garden, both collected from the roadsides and uncultivated hills back in my early days of gardening here.

    bare bedsThe Bosketto is filled with empty beds, the soil so poor that most of them are devoid even of weeds.

    empty beds It is now mid March when even the roadsides are burgeoning with wild flowers.

    Much-visited, nothing to show: Here is this much-visited public garden with nothing to show except for some stunted rows of unsuitable greenhouse plants or ugly marigolds - and even these are not yet in flower.

    There are empty beds in mostly very shady positions - surely it is better to fill them with some sort of evergreen - even ivy - than to leave them neglected and bare?

    gatesRenewing the grass ~ At my first visit to the gardens, I suggested renewing the non-existent grass on the left-hand side of the gate to match the luxuriant sward on the opposite. Seed could have been sown at the time and would be in good growth by now. Of course nothing has been done and if grass is still planned, expensive turves will have to be laid and regularly watered.

    On one hand, Municipal staff say they have no money to spend, on the other there is the obvious extravagance of putting in unsuitable time-consuming plants.

    dirty fountainWhen I was first approached to help on this project, I was assured of any necessary help when needed.

    MH and FrederikiThe reality has been that the only times I have even seen anybody has been 16 and 17 February when Frederiki and George were in the Garden [see photo], and March 12 when a truck-load of workmen were clearing away the tree prunings.

    I asked one of them to assist in some simple brief task, only to be snapped at,

    "Can't you see we are working?"
    It was soon after this that it was pointed out to me - one month after I had first met Mr Kuluris - that no work of any kind was undertaken by garden personnel without prior clearance from his office.

    It seemed that all my visits, my suggestions, all my questions and advice to the working staff I met at the Bosketto - it had all been a waste of time.

    Right from the start, no one had had permission to assist or work with me.

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