TOPIORI, Greece — A few months ago, the Greek city of Rte Iraklis was a hive of activity.
People, mostly students and engineers, would go to the gardens of the university’s main garden for their daily meal.
They were there to visit the topiary — the thick green plants that can grow up to 30 feet tall and produce fruit and nuts.
It’s a good way to get some exercise, to get outside and see the sun, said Pouria Mavromakos, who is a student at the university.
There are more than 50,000 plants in Greece’s topiaries, a number that’s likely to double in the next few years.
The country is now one of the world’s top producers of topiary fruit, producing more than 1,000 tons a year, said Panos Koutouros, an expert on topiary ecology at the University of Athens.
The topiary produces an enormous amount of fruit and vegetables, including tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, onions and herbs.
But what does the fruit taste like?
It tastes really good, said Mavrimakos.
“People are talking about it as a new dish in the world of topiaries.”
People eat topiary fruits at the RTEI garden in Rte.
— AP Photo This is one of several gardens in Greece that have developed over the years.
The university and the local municipality have been helping grow them.
There are now about 50 in Athens, and about a dozen more in cities around the country.
The gardens have attracted a diverse community of people from all walks of life.
They’re a perfect place to meet and eat.
“There are a lot of young people who go to university and study,” said Koutounias, who lives in a large apartment in the city.
I can’t imagine going anywhere else, he said.
In the past, people would go outside and eat at a local restaurant and then head to the topiaries for a drink.
Now, they eat the fruit right there in the garden.
One of the most popular dishes at the gardens is the konfiki, or a fish cake, Koutunias said.
The fish cake is often eaten in Greece during the winter months and is often filled with konfu — a sweet, spicy meat sauce made from ground up potatoes.
Koutounis said he has even noticed that more people have become vegetarian in the past few years, as well as taking up veganism.
For a country with the highest rate of obesity in Europe, Greece has been the exception.
But Koutoulias said he thinks it’s a great idea to eat at the topics every now and then.
Some locals, like Eko Gokoulis, the founder of the Greek Food & Wine Festival, say that if people come to the parks and visit the gardens, the atmosphere will be different.
Many people who have been eating at the garden have been vegetarian or vegan for years, and they enjoy the change.
He said it’s good to see that the topiers of Greece have embraced their new identity.
This past weekend, he held a big party at the park, called the “Grand Opening.”
It was an event to celebrate the new look of the gardens.
Athens’ topiary parks have grown since the 1950s.
Most people in the countryside were not familiar with the plant, which was imported from Greece to be grown in gardens in the United States.
It has become a symbol of Greece’s cultural history.
People often refer to it as the “Golden Garden,” which is an affectionate nickname for it.
The park has become an important tourist destination.
–AP Photo The first topiary in Greece was planted in 1956.
It grew to a height of 20 feet, but eventually fell and became a part of the urban landscape.
Today, there are nearly 600 topiaries throughout Greece.
The most famous is Rte Koutoutoura in the southern part of Athens, which features a huge topiary that looks like a giant, round house.
As for the rest of the country, topiaries are now being planted in smaller locations around Greece.
In Rte Vardas, a city in the south of Greece, there is a small topiary park, known as the Koutouros.
In the city of Lefkonou in the northeastern part of Greece — known for its wild and colorful flora — there are also several topiary enclaves, called Koutoorias.
Greek topiaries have grown in size in recent years.
Today, there were about 1,300 in the country and an additional 30 in the north.
And some topiary farms are now opening in other countries.
Horse-drawn carriages carrying the produce of the topies to the villages around the gardens have also been appearing