Back to the walls

Istanbul's new school of historical horticulture

By Cornucopia Blog | August 30, 2013

Tense times for those watching developments on the Yedikule gardens front. Much seems to depend on whether the Greek community decides to abandon 1,500 odd years of history in favour of a couple of flats. A fatal signature could be applied any day now. Meanwhile, a grain of hope must be gained from the eco-credentials of Patriarch Bartholomew (Al Gore dubbed him the 'Green Patriarch'), who on Sunday morning, at 9am, will be saying prayers for the environment. On September 8, the birthday of the Virgin Mary, the Patriarch traditionally visits the market gardens on the Land Walls to confer his blessing on them. He will surely not wish give his blessing to a brand new block of flats, which the Fatih municipality is keen to add to its bulging portfolio (a famous mint field has been marked down by them as a car park).

Meanwhile the newly formed School of Historical Yedikule Gardens is gaining momentum. On Sunday afternoon, Aleksander Shopov, one of the key figures in the initiative to save the gardens, is presenting a workshop – to which all are welcome – at the exceptionally beautiful Kilise Bostan, a garden known to date back to at least the 16th century. Shopov is a lively and engaging speaker, and his talk will be fascinating. The garden is very easy to find, just inside the Belgrade Gate, the second gate as you make your way along the walls from the Sea of Marmara. The workshop starts at 4pm and will last an hour. The theme, appropriately enough, is remedies for ailing plants in the 16th century. It will conclude with a symbolic planting of ruccola to mark Peace Day – ‘roka against rockets’. On Tuesday, September 3, Emrah Altınok of Istanbul Technical University is holding a seminar at the garden entitled ‘It was full of mulberry trees here’, in which he will discuss the Küçükçekmece Water Basin, on the Thracian edge of the city, and the prevailing regime of de-agriculturalisation in Turkey.

Cornucopia, meanwhile, strongly urges its Greek readers to exert as much influence as possible on the Greek foundation that has the power to sign away the Belgrade Church's most precious heirloom.

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