|Flowers of Crete Nature Reserve - "Pezoulia"
Soil test – Scale 8 – acid
15 degrees east of north
Some time ago, Jane and David Sharp, owners of the Revolution Bar in the mountain village of Vrahassi, near Neapoli, East Crete, approached me with a view to making a plot of land into a nature reserve.
The land, around 2,000 sq metres, was purchased in 2004 from an old lady named Elene. The land had belonged to her father, a tough and robust character named Gregory Souladakis, who had died a few years back at the age of 98. Despite the steep and rocky terrain, he worked the ground and tended his 30 olive trees. Getting the live harvest down the precipitous donkey track was quite an achievement, as those who visit the site today can imagine. Gregory also built the sturdy stone walls around and on the land. Under the oak trees in the top corner, he also built his version of ‘the garden shed’ – a simple stone bothy, where he surely must have spent many quiet hours. Inside the ruins one can still see the remains of his fires.
The setting for the land is truly magical and, because it has been left untended for so long, it is the perfect environment for a spectacular range of native flora. In addition to areas of terracing where many orchids can be found, there is a small grove of oak trees (Quercus coccifera) and a small cave formed by a tumble of large boulders.
An initial trip to the site has proved very encouraging. Using markers, we have identified at least 75 clusters of orchids and ophrys, ranging from O. italica to possibly one specimen of the rare and beautiful Listera oblate.
During the summer, events are being planned to raise funds to improve and clear the donkey track and to provide a rudimentary fence to keep out the sheep and goats during the spring and early summer months.
Over the next twelve months, with the aid of local botanists and volunteers, it is hoped that we can produce a comprehensive species list. This project will be a large venture and help and funding will be gratefully received.