Friday, 15 June 2018

The Botanical Gardens in Fournes Crete



On my recent trip to Crete, I had the opportunity to visit the Botanical Gardens at Fournes. I learnt that the Botanical Park & Gardens of Crete was reborn from the ashes after a devastating fire spread in October 2004. The wild fire started when an  electricity pole was struck by a storm near the village of Skordalou.The fire burnt for more than 24 hours and destroyed the entire surrounding area burning down Orange groves and over 60,000 olive trees some over 400 years old. The charred olive tree still remains standing sad and forlorn in the gardens as a reminder of that tragic day.



The village was ruined both financially and ecologically and many people lost everything they owned. Farm land was burnt to ashes. Petros Marinakis and his two brothers who also lost much of their farmland decided to rebuild the burnt land and turn it into a Botanical garden that would be open to the public for trekking, education and recreation. It would also create jobs for the villagers who lost their livelihood in the fire.



Work began on the Botanical gardens and with lots of research and careful planning it opened its doors in 2010. Petros and his brothers decided to divide the Botanical Gardens into sections; Tropical, Mediterranean, Wine section and the Lake. 



The gardens have 3 different climate zones; Tropical, Sub tropical and Alpine. Within the different zones you will find fruit trees, spices, herbs, medicinal plants, citrus trees, and tropical plants and Alpine shrubs and trees. Crete has a micro climate and all the different variety of plants grow easily in the gardens.The gardens are tended by local gardeners from nearby villages.



The Botanical Gardens also grow their own vegetables that are used for their Cretan restaurant on site. All the produce is organic and seasonal and the chefs create recipes according to what ingredients are available. 




There is a shop on site that sells honey made from the gardens own bees, together with olive oils and other Cretan products, olives, cook books and delicacies. The Gardens are open from March to November.




To generate extra income the gardens host music festival, put on traditional dance shows and local music shows for the public in their amphitheatre overlooking the beautiful gardens and hill tops. 




They also support the smaller farmers, provide employment for the local people and help to bring tourism to Crete.




During our visit to the gardens, we were lucky to have the opportunity to have a Cretan cookery class by one of their resident chefs Emilios Asllanis. Emilios is very passionate about his cooking and makes recipes he has learnt from his mother and grandmother. How lovely it is to see him carry forward the Cretan cooking he has grown up with.





We made Marathopita a fennel pie, Haroupopitaki a carob pastry filled with a spinach and cheese, which we had for our lunch in The Olive Restaurant together with lots of other delicious Cretan dishes.



The restaurant serves delicious local Cretan Cuisine that is freshly prepared daily using the finest home grown produce. I was totally mesmerised by the pots of stew bubbling on outdoor oven that they have. There can't be a more authentic way to cook than this.




It was a wonderful and most enjoyable experience looking around the gardens which were tranquil, spiritual and offered majestic views. We even spotted a peacock resting amongst the trees.




I would highly recommend a visit to the Botanical gardens if you visit Crete. The tour of the gardens is very educational and interesting. You can even take a rest on the benches just to enjoy and savour the peacefulness and hear the peacocks.




To look around the gardens at a leisurely pace and finish off with lunch I would probably allow at least 5-6 hours. Although for the more adventurous people you can spend an entire day just exploring the gardens. It is highly recommended to wear comfortable shoes as some of the paths are rather steep. A bottle of water and a hat are also handy as the walk back up to the Olive Restaurant is tiring as its all up hill climb on the way back.

I was a guest of the Botanical Gardens and I can say that the visit was truly memorable.

Check the links below more posts about my recent trip to Crete: 

Chania and Olea Villas ~Crete
Greek Feast at Olea Vilas Crete
Hand Picked Greece
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34 comments:

  1. How nice that the locals made a botanical garden after the disaster of the fire. The Cretan cookery class sounds like great fun and it all looks so tasty. I'd definitely visit this place if travelling to Crete

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  2. Oh my, my Mother-In-Law would love this. She is a big gardener. The Botanical garden looks really rustic and natural

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  3. Crete looks so amazing and rustic at the same time. I love the food that they taught you at the cookery school, its looks delicious.

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  4. Oh my goodness what a beautiful looking garden to get to go and explore. I bet Crete is such a beautiful place to go and spend some time.

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  5. Everything is absolutely beautiful and perfect! I have always wanted to visit a Botanical Garden. This is one is for the books!

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  6. This is fantastic! Good job to the locals for turning a disaster site into something so beautiful. The food looks so good too. I wish I could learn how to make a dish or two.

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  7. What a beautiful place to visit! I do love a stroll through a garden, especially if it's different than what I'm used to seeing at home.

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  8. I went to Crete last year and didn't know these botanical gardens were there and I am gutted as they look pretty x

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  9. I've yet to visit Crete, but have heard so many wonderful things about it. This is the first time I'm reading about the Botanical Gardens though. I'll have to add this to the list for when I do finally visit Crete x

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  10. How incredible that they turned what was such an incredibly horrible event and tragic loss for the community into something good to help build the community back up. Crete is absolutely beautiful, we loved it when we visited. X

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  11. The botanical garden in Crete looks amazingly calming and wonderful. I love nature and this looks like a place I would love to spend time at.

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  12. This is such a lovely place. Love the idea of picking organic produce and cooking them.

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  13. That is truly an amazing effort by the locals to convert this place into a botanical garden. The place is so pretty, I could not believe that once upon a time it was just a fire-ravaged area.

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  14. Oh wow what a place to visit, it is just beautiful and so full of colour and culture. I would so love to visit here one day.

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  15. That is truly a beautiful place! The food also looks amazing. I wouldn't mind visiting there someday.

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  16. This looks like such a beautiful place to visit! The Cretan cookery class sounds like a wonderful experience! I'd love to visit there!

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  17. The botanical gardens are very cool there. I would have to say i love that they do the vegetables. I love the beautiful things, but it's awesome they are practical as well.

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  18. what a beautiful place ! I haven't visited Creta and now after reading your post i added to my bucket list

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  19. That truly amazing . Its great to visit such places and be more close to nature and its goodness and grab more info about it .Thanks for suggesting this place I would love to check it out someday.

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  20. oh this is totally my type of place. whenever i see places like it I get an immediate rush of wander lust. look at all that lovely produce and food not to mention a gorgeous walk!

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  21. The botanical gardens look so beautiful, to think it was reborn and this beauty was created out of something so horrid in 2004.

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  22. What a beautiful looking garden. I have never seen a garden this beautiful. I would love to visit it.

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  23. I love shopping local- and cooking local too! Crete looks beautiful, hope to visit someday.

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  24. Excellent sgare.. what a lovely place it is .. and such fresh and organic vegetables and herbs. I loved the pots and pans a lot too.

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  25. How inspiring that they made this graden alive again after the tragic fire. The restaurant is so nice and the pots of stew is really an amazing way to cook the meals.

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  26. what a pleasant place, so many fresh and organic veggies :) i always wanted to visit the botanical gardens

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  27. I love Greece and have visited several of the islands but Crete has alluded me so far, It looks stunning

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  28. Look at those fresh and plump peppers. Yum. I would love to have the experience of visiting this Botanical Garden in Crete and to learn a dish or two from the experts!

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  29. Looks wonderful. Wish I had visited the garden when I went to Crete.

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  30. This post is really interesting. Love the views.

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  31. I have never been to Crete. How lovely would that be if I could travel there with my kids. They will definitely enjoy the fresh outdoors.

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  32. The views were absolutely stunning - your photos really capture the spirit!

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  33. Oh wow. This place is really pretty despite of what happened in the past. They managed to create something beautiful from the ashes.

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  34. Great pictures, I would love to go there! The food looks amazing and the view is perfect. Sounds like a lovely way to spend the day

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