The Autumn Flowers of the Peloponnese

We were joined on 22nd November by Joe Sharman, the owner of Monksilver Nursery in Cambridgeshire. Joe is a renowned plantsman with a particular interest in snowdrops. However he lectures on a wide variety of topics and today he came to Biddenham to talk to us about the autumn flowers of the Peloponnese. The Peloponnese is a peninsula in Southern Greece.  It is connected to the mainland by the Isthmus of Corinth, where the Corinth Canal was constructed in 1893.  The peninsula has a mountainous interior and deeply indented coasts.  In 776 the first Olympic Games were held at Olympia in the western Peloponnese …

Joe started his talk by explaining that the Peloponnese has more autumn flowering plants than anywhere else in the world.  We may think that this area is very hot and dry all the time.  However, on the higher parts of the plateau, there is frost and snow in the winter and it is very cold.  The wet weather of this region comes from the east so this is the damp side and where many of the flowers are found.  In the lower parts of the region there are thunderstorms in the autumn following the hot, dry summers.  Spring comes very early and flowering plants are over by May.  Plants have had to adapt – they have either died out, moved further north, become more bulbous, or produce more hairs, thorns or scented leaves in order to survive.  Joe gave as an example snowdrops – they produce big seeds so they flower earlier in order for the seed to have time to develop between February and May whilst there is still moisture in the ground.  Most  plants only flower when there is sufficient moisture and some plants do not appear at all if it doesn’t rain – the autumn thunderstorms are really important.   

Joe showed us a selection of photographs he had taken of the many varieties of crocus and cyclamen which are native to this area. They varied depending on the different growing conditions.  In the wetter areas ferns, arums and snowdrops are found.  The latter grow in steep sided, narrow valleys, in cool, damp, shady places where the stoney soil is rich in leaf mould.  Joe has a tremendous knowledge of all these plants and he gave us a fascinating glimpse into their world.  We understand that he also leads plant finding expeditions to this area.  Many thanks to Joe for a most interesting talk.

Please join us next month on Tuesday 20th December for our Christmas Party.  Everyone – members and visitors will be very welcome.  We look forward to seeing you then for food and wine.  Please remember that subscriptions for the year 2023 are due on 11th December.  Your subscriptions enable us to engage high calibre speakers for our meetings and ensures that the BGA continues to thrive.

                                                                                                          Linda Truscott
New members and visitors are always welcome.
For more information contact: Linda Truscott on 01234 27074

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