We went to Croatia last week. In fact, to be more specific, we spent a wonderful long weekend in the historic centre of Split enjoying the vibrant city life and sampling the excellent local wine. On the last day we took a boat trip to the islands. We had hoped to go to the Blue Cave but it was too windy to be safe and so we set out in a small ferry to Trogir and then the Blue Lagoon.
I looked out for the gardens, as I always do, but they were remarkable by their absence. The centre of Split is a warren of medieval alleyways so perhaps it was not so surprising that there are no planted spaces but although the modern sea front has an avenue of palm trees the busy space is covered with pathways and cafes. On the islands there is no evidence of municipal planting in central areas but it is possible that there are parks that we did not visit. The small village houses that we walked past had vines and some bouganvillea but in comparison to similar villages in Italy or Greece the planting was quite sparse. Croatia is not a wealthy country and perhaps this is part of the explanation - gardens are a luxury when it is a struggle to make a living . Our friendly taxi driver Mario gave us another clue - he told us that when he grew up there was no colour at all - every surface was grey, covered in the dust from two cement factoriesm and the sea was contaminated with the outflow from a chemical factory. It would be difficult to grow anything in earth poisoned with chemicals and air thick with cement dust and so it is no wonder that there is no tradition of gardening. It is a testament to the energy and entrepreneurial spirit of the Croatians that the places we visited have recovered so quickly from the damage of the period of Socialism and the civil war after the declaration of independence in 1991.
Anyway, in lieu of flowers, have some pictures of boats.