We have written before about the Mediterranean Garden Society (“MGS”) which we joined almost three years ago. Recently, the Costa Blanca branch of the society held its annual branch meeting and end of year social event in Javea and we thought that it would be a good idea to write a little about this society and possibly encourage some new members!

As its name suggests the society exists for the purpose of spreading knowledge regarding the pleasures and challenges of gardening and horticulture in areas of the world which enjoy Mediterranean climates. The society has members in 38 countries but mostly in the Mediterranean, Australia, California, Chile and Southern Africa. 

The society was founded in 1994 and next year will celebrate its 30th anniversary with a programme of events in Greece where it was founded. Non-profit and staffed by volunteers, the society has grown in statute to become recognised and respected for its contribution to horticulture. In the last year the society’s headquarters garden in Sparoza, Greece has been the subject of newspaper articles and a BBC film by the God of gardening Monty Don! 

The garden in Sparoza in fact has a far longer history stretching back to the 1960s when it was established by an Englishwoman Mary Tyrwhitt. She was an urban planning professor by profession but had a passion for gardening and was keen to investigate which plants would thrive in the challenging Mediterranean climate. Following the founding of the MGS in 1994 it took over the garden from Professor Tyrwitt and has continued her work. Since the 1960s what was originally an isolated rural location has been surrounded by the Athenian suburbs, something which Professor Tywitt, wearing her urban planning hat,  herself predicted. As someone who briefly lived in Athens, Archie can vouch for the importance of any green space in that wonderful but busy city!

We are entering a period of great change in our climate with new patterns of heat and rainfall. The work of organisations such as the MGS is becoming more important in helping us to preserve both natural flora and our own precious cultivated gardens and parks. In ways that could not have been foreseen in the 1960s, the work of the gardeners at Sparoza is increasingly precious to us all. The MGS provides information and guidance to anyone trying to grow and enjoy plants and gardens in our climate. The society receives no public funding and relies upon its membership fees and donations to continue its work. 

We have written articles in these pages criticising our local council’s lack of interest in “greening” Gran Alacant – however the time is soon coming when urban planning without “greening” will seem as wrong as building towns without proper sewers! There is a clear choice facing us as individuals and as society; either we start to respect and harmonise with nature or we will find ourselves trying to live in desolation. 

Letting the enjoyment and knowledge of gardening into your life is one small step that every individual can take, even window boxes or terrace pots bring life and pleasure. We make no apologies for using this article to invite our readers to join the Mediterranean Garden Society in 2024 and to support its work. The Costa Blanca branch has a full programme of events including visits and lectures. In the three years that we have been members we have been welcomed by the existing members who come from all backgrounds and nations. The social events are a delight and the opportunity to visit private gardens is a special treat. We have learnt about far more than just gardening; the history and culture of our region is tied upon with the plants that have been grown, cultivated and harvested along our coast. At the meeting in Javea in November we were treated to a short talk by young Spanish garden designers who are reaching back to historic Iberian garden forms and native species to use in their 21st century projects: Trying to bring a truly Spanish stamp to their contemporary work.  

The MGS is keen to involve new members: Whether your interest is plants, historic gardens, climate change issues or simply a bigger social life the MGS Costa Blanca branch can offer it all. In 2024 the MGS Costa Blanca branch has organised four garden visits, which we will write about and perhaps see some of you at. So as we look forward to 2024, plant a seed and join this special society! Please feel free to reach out for further information and how to become a member.

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