One of the things I love the most about traveling is to see the plants we sell growing in their natural environment. A small island in Greece that I recently visited was no exception. It was hot and dry and very rocky as we hiked up the hills outside of the small town we were visiting. The only plant with blooms turned out to be thyme. It was in such abundance that hundreds of beehives had been set up along the roads. Little did I know that Greece is famous for its thyme honey.
On the sides of the hills, along the sides of the road and even in the road, I kept noticing a fairly low growing mounding plant with rather lush looking leaves and pinkish flowers. These were caper bushes. It turns out that the immature flower buds are pickled – this is what we buy as capers. If not picked these buds form the pinkish-white flowers we also noticed. These produce the larger caperberry which are also usually pickled and served as an appetizer. Not surprisingly, the Greeks also use the caper leaves in salads.
I also noted sage, oregano, rosemary, lavender and sweet myrtle. Did I mention it was hot and dry? After 8 inches of rain here at our house this past month, I now know why my sage is dying. It wants to be in Greece!