Thursday, June 25, 2009


We have eaten most of our artichokes, as we do when they are but buds, but some of them remained and were allowed to become flowers, the most beautiful flowers...
A colour as violet as change, as radient as life,..the pictures are poor...but the colour is vibrant...
Have you ever seen an artichoke flowering...

Friday, June 19, 2009

So back again.. well, we had our friends Willy and Johnny visiting from Holland, staying, working and sharing with us almost three weeks.. Together we collected and distilled Lavandula and Lentisk.. together we finished the details of the 'shop' in Kallikratis... Johnny especially was very active trying to attract attention from that lone car passing.. calling 'stop, shop' out when the whole place still looked like a buildingsite.. we had lots of fun together, as well as a lot of good get togethers and much work..

Then we got a call from a TV crew, they wanted to do a documentary about our work for the digital prisma channel..so we had to think about a herb that could be collected and distilled the same day, for them to film the entire process from collection to distillation. We went down to Modi and collected Lentisk, since there is a population just behind the distillery. From left to right you see Maria, Babis, Janina and Johnny cutting, Willy took the photo, and later Mario joined us as well in order to collect enough for a distillation.
You can click the photos to enlarge them...


We had a wonderful time with the crew that day.. Then as evening approached, they sat us down for an interview, here you see us and them through Willy's lense.. The documentary will come out sometime in January next year on prisma channel..

They were surprised though, that 6 people collecting most of the day followed by 3 hours of distillation only resulted in about 100ml of essential oil...but thats what Lentisk gives...

Back in Kallikratis the next day, we were preparing for Johnnys birthday party.. goats had to be caught in the wild and slaughtered, bread had to be baked and foodstuff prepared..

And we had a wonderful time... Kostas, who builds magnificent string instruments in Chania had brought his guitar, and Thoma joined in with his wonderful voice..

Willy (Wil deZeeuw) made two short videos, which I here post with her permission..maybe you can grasp some of the atmosphere...it was a truly fine and starry night, fresh mountain air... In the second video they sing Johnny's birthday song...Gianni is the Greek name for Johnny...






video



video

So here we go, creating a blog

Hello there..

Being back down in 'civilisation' again, I thought it would be nice to create a blog as well, to keep anyone interested in Cretan nature and aromatic plants, herbs and essential oils updated regularily.. I will still update the website, http://www.wildherbsofcrete.com/ regularily, but a blog seems a more immediate and personal way and is interactive...

We have had very busy days here in June, collecting flowering Satureja thymbra, Savory on the southern coast of Crete, collecting Lavandula stoechas, Greek Lavender, in the hills above Vatolakko in the northwestern part of the island, collecting Pistacia lentiscus, lentisk or mastic near the distillery in Modi..and finally we have made and finished our own little 'shop' up in Kallikratis, a quite deserted shepherds village in the mountains of Sfakia, at an altitude of 750m...

Truly away from all 'civilization'..nice and cool place to be in the summerheat...a few wanderers pass by, coming up or going down the wonderful Kallikratis gorge which is unspoiled and pristine..So its not a 'shop' shop, but more of a workshop, where we will make soap and shampoo, clean and pack herbs, and where everybody is welcome to stop by, have a drink and a chat, a rest or an adventure when we are up there.. We built the house around a beautiful piece of rock, you can just see some of it in the picture here... and it really puzzles the people.... they wonder, how ever did we get that rock inside the house??

We have also set some stonetables outside of the fence, so that people also can have a rest and enjoy the wonderful mountain views when we are not there...

Now, just a little background..We had our living and working place in Modi, near Chania for years. Here we built our distillery 16 years ago.. 16 years ago, we couldn't see any other house from our place, we were out in nature. However, as the years passed by, the new national road was build between Chania and Kissamos, and now during the last years several houses were build in the hills around us.. So we decided, it was time to move up further away into unspoiled nature, and started two years ago to build a place in Kallikratis, which is as far away from 'civilisation' as you possibly can come in Crete.. The village is deserted during winter, and in the summer just a few shepherds stay up here with their animals..However, there is a problem with water in Kallikratis during the summer, there's no real watersystem, the existing pipes transporting water from a well in the surrounding mountains to the village are quite rotten.. This needs to be fixed by the muncipality... So, until this problem is solved, we cannot move our distillery up here, we still distill in Modi...

A few days ago, we distilled our last Lavandula stoechas, Greek Lavender..from many days of collection earlier, clearing out the drying space for the next collection, which will be Laurus nobilis, Bay laurel.

As always, the final oil collection, the separation of the essential oil, is a magical moment.. because of the way we do distill, we almost everytime finish at nighttime..not having electricity at the distillery, we are sitting by the oil separator with a flashlight, watching the oil coming...

And from this Lavender distillation , we almost got 900 ml of essential oil..
Well, thats it for now, I have to get some work done now...
With aromatic greetings
Janina