Symi:  A bit of colour

One of the effects of climate change which, despite what some may say, scientific evidence shows overwhelmingly is not a myth, is increased unpredictability in the weather.  Even on the Greek islands you can’t assume that usual climate patterns will work out, especially in Spring and Autumn.

Blue skies prevailed but May on Symi was cooler than usual with temperatures in the mid twenties most of the time with more than usual number of showers.  This meant that the crisping of foliage by searing summer temperatures was delayed.  The bonus was that plants continued flowering for longer, the built-in rush to set seed deferred.

There was therefore still a considerable amount of colour even at the end of the month.  Visitors who only come mid-summer miss all this.

Despite the cooler weather, by the end of April some plants were finishing their flowering.


The swathes of delicate cyclamen had disappeared leaving only the occasional bloom in deep shade on the north side of a stone wall.


Crown daisies had filled entire fields but now confined to discrete clumps.


A few tiny sparks of Star Clover remain


As do a few flowers of ‘bush lupin’

Other plants only start coming into flower at the end of April and early May.  A walk along the path down the side of the Pedi Valley is well rewarded and even mountain tops have patches of colour.


Wild hollyhocks are coming into flower at the beginning of May and continue throughout the month.


….. lit by evening sun


Masses of tiny yellow flowers on stalks up to 2 feet high nearly block the path down Pedi Valley


…. attracting courting couples


They also attract butterflies though they seem to prefer the tiny cornflowers on the end of long nodding stalks.


One of my favourites is the Holy Orchid (Anacamptis or Orchis Sancta).  If you know where to look there are more than 30 along one short stretch of path …. but only for a couple of weeks in early May


On a similarly Biblical theme and found nearby, Star of Bethlehem (species Ornithogalum, though I don’t know which) looks very different, striking in its simplicity


One of the hundreds of allium (garlic, onions) species, this one I think is Allium ampeloprasum or elephant garlic


Huge areas are covered in oregano, in full flower in May


Normally different mountainsides are covered in one of three herbs – oregano, sage or thyme.  Rarely do they occur together but here oregano and thyme are not only together but in flower at the same time.


Another favourite, if only because of its dramatic size and deep purple spathe and spadix, is the dragon arum (Dracunculus vulgaris).  Shame it smells like rotting flesh.


Considerably smaller, the poppy is eye catching and this year flowers seemed to continue to open later than usual.


A single poppy grabs the attention in a sea of green barley


…. or is dominant in a field of mixed flowers


In a monastery garden on a mountain top, backlit by the sun, blown wildly in strong winds

Next time a look at landscapes.  Then revisiting fortifications.

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1 Response to Symi:  A bit of colour

  1. Helle Christoffersen says:

    Hello Barry 🙂 Lovely to read about the beautiful plants and flowers on the Symi island. This summer Aksel and I are going to visit Lyn and Iain at their place in Crete. Next year I think that we will visit Symi and Tilos again, it is a bit like home you know 😉 Hope that we will see you then ❤ Aksel and I are both stressed a lot because of our daughters disease. Soon she will continue the treatment against canser in her lymphs. We have to beleve in health… If you ever like to see DK you should tell us, and crash our home then 😉 Best wishes and hugs from Aksel and Helle :-)))

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