SKopelos

By Sofia, Sep 6 2020 06:49PM

It has been a strange season with strange events but a recent unprecedented event was the appearance of two flamenco birds in the town beach. In the past, we have had flocks of signet swans visiting us (or losing their way to us) during their migration period, but flamenco?......and a pair? How they came, from where and why is a mystery which has caused excitement and curiosity, especially amongst the young.


As they lacked their pink colour, we were not sure that they were a flamenco, albeit their bill and unique walk pointed that way. My friend Philip clarified the mystery of the lack of the unique colour and even identified which group of flamencos they belonged to. Apparently their unique pink is achieved from their favourite diet of shrimps and they belong to the Greater Flamenco group.


They seem to be settled and to perform well for the audience of mums with youngsters who have surrounded them for a week.


Will they become a permanent Skopelos inhabitant or are they simply passers-by? All Skopelos Town awaits to see!

Flamenco perfroms for the local audience
Flamenco perfroms for the local audience
Enjoying the spawning field of the town beach
Enjoying the spawning field of the town beach
Parading off the town beach
Parading off the town beach
A Skopelos dawn, reflecting the pink theme!
A Skopelos dawn, reflecting the pink theme!

By Sofia, Aug 16 2020 11:03AM

If the stone fruit trees have let us down this year to make up for the early shortage, we have bumper crops of figs, pears and grapes. The fig tree here is my favourite and in my opinion is the best on Skopelos. I have been foraging the delicious fruit from it for many years.


Wish you were here to share the enjoyment of fresh sweet juicy figs!

Abundant, good-sized figs!
Abundant, good-sized figs!
Sweet, juicy and fresh!
Sweet, juicy and fresh!

By Sofia, Jul 29 2020 09:16AM

Such a strange year, but at least Skopelos' holiday season has now started, albeit cautiously!


Undoubtedly there are many positives to it all: the benefits are being felt by Skopelos' nature, in which the reduced volume of visitors is felt positively. Plus, there is space on Skopelos' beaches, in Skopelos' tavernas, on Skopelos' waterfront boat trips. Plenty of space!


We are grateful to those individuals who are here with us to share our start, with all the unusual advantages of this most unusual of summer seasons!


Stay safe everyone!


Reduced numbers coming off the ferries
Reduced numbers coming off the ferries
Early morning catch, Skopelos waterfront
Early morning catch, Skopelos waterfront
The DAWN of good health (hopefully!)
The DAWN of good health (hopefully!)
A sailing flotilla moored at the harbour
A sailing flotilla moored at the harbour

By Sofia, Jul 18 2020 07:12PM

This season's project is the cultivation of a common myrtle! In nature, this is an evergreen, lightly-scented shrub with a profusion of white, scented flowers which turn into blue berries when ripe. In ancient times, myrtle symbolized love and beauty: in Greek mythology it was a tree, sacred to Aphrodite for example. The Romans are also said to have held the myrtle in reverence and propagated it widely in all the areas of their conquests. This evergreen shrub is still revered in Greece and, on religious holidays and weddings, churches are decorated with branches of it.


In nature the myrtle is a shrub, but I have spotted myrtle in a Skopelos Old Town shrine, growing freely as a tree (maybe a self-seeded occurrence of a berry dropping off the decoration branches?).


In the autumn, I dug out cuttings from close to the root of a shrub and - happily - they have taken. One I planted freely in the soil against the wall, hopefully to slowly grow into a tree similar to the ones in the chapel yards. The second I planted in a pot, hopefully to be trained into a potted small tree, to move about in the garden or even to take indoors in the winter months.


So far, both have done well having flowered profusely, attracting bees, butterflies and other insects. They are now full of green berries for the birds to enjoy.


Myrtle in the first stages of potting
Myrtle in the first stages of potting
Potted myrtle tree in bloom
Potted myrtle tree in bloom
Myrtle tree in the chiurch yard of Ag. Mercurios (Skopelos Old Town)
Myrtle tree in the chiurch yard of Ag. Mercurios (Skopelos Old Town)
Wetland at Loutsa with myrtle gracing the small lake full of water lillies
Wetland at Loutsa with myrtle gracing the small lake full of water lillies

By Sofia, Jul 10 2020 05:17PM

One of my first ambitious projects in propagating Skopelos-endemic plants in the 39steps garden was with capers. The flower of this flora is delicate and beautiful but the plant resilient, growing out of rock cliffs in the face of adverse weather conditions, and yet they still survive!


Initially I carried back from the wilds of the Skopelos seaside countless seedlings. About 50! Only three survived and only after I removed the nutritious garden soil and replaced this with rocks and rubble! Once rooted, this allowed the root to roam deep down and find its own nourishment. One of these migrants gave shade to the garden table for many happy years. The seedling was established by the side of the arbour and, by pruning and support over the years, I gradually trained some fronds on the upward move to form an attractive trunk. Above, at the top of the arbour, a dense leafy crown of fronds full of blooms then spread covering an area 3 sq.m and giving a cool aromatic shade we enjoyed for many years!


I noticed then that ants liked the seed of the ripe caper fruit. I don't mean the buds which we know as capers and which are found on the supermarket shelves; those are caper flower buds, before they bloom. I mean the small cucumber-like fruit with black seeds. Ants, great cleaners of nature, busily carry the seeds into their nest in the stone walls for whatever purpose they need them. An occasional seed would be trapped in the crevice of the stone wall and germinate and grow into a beautiful overhanging caper plant. They do grow on flat ground but don't do so well! I copied the method used by the ants and placed seeds in the walls in designated spots whereupon - at one time - the area of 39steps was caper full!


My over-the-arbour caper is now gone and there are other attractive plants shading that corner of the 39steps garden! Having satisfied my curiosity about the way capers propagate, I now leave ants to do their work. There are now generations of uncontrolled capers seeded from that early experiment in the alleys and gardens of our neighbourhood in the Old Town, often admired and photographed by our visitors.


Incidentally, the whole caper plant is edible. Also, the buds take their time to open into a beautiful bloom but live only one day before forming into the cucumber like fruit. In the time it blooms, it attracts droves of bees and other insects busily gathering pollen and nectar.


The bloom and buds
The bloom and buds
Caper-shaded terrace (as was)
Caper-shaded terrace (as was)
Jenny's caper beneath 39 Steps' stone wall
Jenny's caper beneath 39 Steps' stone wall
An ant-spread caper sprouting from the stone wall
An ant-spread caper sprouting from the stone wall
Outside eating area, now shaded by vine and jasmine
Outside eating area, now shaded by vine and jasmine
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I'm Sofia, 39 Steps' owner and host. This is an occasional blog to keep in touch with my regular guests, give a taste of Skopeliti life and share my experiences of foraging through the summer season

 

Sofia

 

Sofia's 39 Steps Forage Blog

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