Native shrubs and bushes found in Greece are adapted to the hot and dry Mediterranean climate. Approximately 5,700 species of flora live in preserves like wetlands, bird sanctuaries and hundreds of European nature conservation sites. According to the Balkan Botanic Garden in the Kroussia Mountains,"Greece is a country of great floristic wealth, due to the geographic position and the coexistence of three floral regions."
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Lavender (Lavandula Angustifolia)
Lavender is a small, hardy evergreen shrub with grey-green leaves and fragrant violet-blue flowers between July and September. Lavender use for toiletries dates back to the early Greeks and Romans who named the herb from the Latin word, "lavare,' which means,"to wash." Plants grow up to 1 1/2 feet in height. They enjoy full or partial sun, well-drained, sandy soils and are hardy in USDA zones 5 to 8. Production of essential oils in plants such as lavender is a drought-survival technique common in many Greek herbs like oregano, thyme and sage. Jennifer Gay's article for Athens News explains how this, "endows plants with lovely scents, but also reduces water loss by retaining vapour on leaf surfaces. The oils further protect the plant by making it unattractive to grazing beasts." Lavender grows well in container gardens. It makes good hedges and sweet-scented dried flowers.
Myrtle (Myrtus Communis)
Myrtle is a low-maintenance, large evergreen shrub with thick, green leaves. Its fragrant, showy white flowers bear yellow-tipped stamens from May to July and edible blue-black berries. Plants grow on the hot and dry hillsides and mountains of Greece where they able to survive long Mediterranean summers by reflecting light from their waxy-coated leaves and closing the stomata, or pores, to limit water loss. Plants enjoy locations with full sun or partial shade, a medium amount of water and well-drained soils. Myrtle grows to a maximum height of 6 feet and is hardy in USDA zones 8 to 10. Myrtle wood, leaves, flowers and fruit all have culinary uses. The wood can be added to barbecue charcoal to add flavour to grilled meats while the leaves can be used in place of bay leaves and the flowers can be added to salads.
Spanish Broom (Spartium Junceum)
Spanish broom is a tall deciduous shrub with small, bright green leaves and showy yellow flowers between July and September. Its spiny branch tips resist grazing by wildlife, such as deer. Spanish broom enjoys full sun, a medium amount of water and well-drained soils, but tolerates drought and poor soils well. Although Spanish broom is helpful in soil erosion control, particularly on slopes, a tendency to crowd out native plants by self-seeding has earned it a bad reputation in Hawaii, Washington and Oregon. Plants grow up to 10 feet in height and are hardy in USDA zones 8 to 10.
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