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Crete courses for flower lovers

- by Mike Mason

Crete courses for flower lovers.

Anyone who has enjoyed a holiday in Crete will know that the countryside is awash with wild flowers in early spring. Crete boasts some 1,500 species of flowers and orchids with over 150 that are native to Crete and not found anywhere else in the world. And most of them are at their best in the spring season as they are brought into flower by the gentle Crete springtime sunshine.

Lovers of Crete, and of the beautiful Cretan landscape, can enjoy a series of Crete holiday workshops on the island's botanical delights.

First is a residential botanical workshop led by island botanist, Jenny Neal, and local artist, Julia Jones, at the Crete hill village of Azogires, just north of the beautiful south coast beach resort of Paleochora.

The five-day course in May Includes guided botanical walks, art workshops, all materials and full board. Course participants can explore their creative side surrounded by the rugged landscape of Azogires which also has a delightful waterfall next to the old olive oil factory.,

Julia's painting can be found in private collections and has a special love of Crete. She is president and founder of the charitable organisation 'Flowers of Crete' which promotes conservation and environmental education on the island.

Jenny is a botanist with a special interest in the Cretan flora and will lead the walks. She has many years teaching experience and her activities include ecological and conservation work in the UK and abroad. Julia and Jenny are Fellows of the Linnean Society of London which recognises the work on Cretan flora.

Those taking part on the course stay at the Alpha Hotel Retreat which has six twin bedrooms and two double bedrooms with an additional single bed. There is a large kitchen and outside terrace, perfect for breakfast, lunch and workshop activities.

The easiest way to get there is a flight to Chania where there are regular buses over the spectacular mountains to the delightful beach resort of Paleochora where you can be picked up and taken to the village of Azogires, about 7km from Paleochora.

The Greek island of Crete, from west to east is about 250km (155 miles) and has three mountain ranges that form the backbone of the island as well as mountain plateaux and gorges that offer unique habitats and niches for endemic plants.

The course not only provides an introduction to the Cretan flora but also gives visitors the chance to simply enjoy the beauty of flowers or hunt for particular species as there are so many interesting and beautiful plants in flower around the area of Azogires during the month of May.

For further information about the course which runs in early May email Jenny at jenniferaneal@yahoo.com or to check out more Crete holiday courses planned for 2013 visit the Flowers of Crete website.