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Aug 27, 2019 - Peter Calamatta's latest publication, Gardening in Malta, The Ultimate Gardening.

Grass is still greener. “I’ve been in this job since the 1960s. It’s a long time but I never cease to be amazed at Mother Nature,” Mr Calamatta told Times of Malta.

Peter Calamatta may have spent 55 years in the horticulture industry, but he still considers the germination of a seed as a little miracle.“I’ve been in this job since the 1960s. It’s a long time but I never cease to be amazed at Mother Nature,” Mr Calamatta told Times of Malta“Miracles happen every single minute. When you put a little seed in the ground and you see it germinate, then two little leaves come out… and then the stem starts falling and then grows again, making a flower which in turn makes a fruit. “Isn’t that a miracle?” he mused.

Mr Calamatta is sharing his passion for gardening and his expertise on the subject in his latest project, a book titled Gardening in MaltaIt is the third book he is publishing in a span of three years, after the well-researched Maltese Plants of the Bible (2016) and the autobiographical Me and My Mentors (2018), in which he recounts his life through the eyes of his mentors. All the proceeds from these projects went to charity. Mr Calamatta had previously published Mediterranean Gardening, a guide for amateur gardeners, in 2000. The book has been reprinted three times and has been unavailable for a long time.

Now, at 78, he wanted to leave a testimonial of his career which has been dedicated towards improving the environment and teaching the community how to enjoy a well-kept garden and open spaces both at their own homes and in public spaces. “If I don’t leave a testimonial of my career, it would be really stupid,” Mr Calamatta said. He also thought of writing a book about gardening with a difference: one that can easily be read by non-gardeners.“You cannot force anybody to like gardening. People fall in love with gardening after having a go at it, not before. You need to have that little patch of ground. In English they call it ‘God’s little acre’. And then you really get hooked easily,” he comments. Mr Calamatta himself got hooked on gardening after getting his hands dirty for the first time during a scholarship in London at the age of 19. Born in Ħamrun and bred in Valletta, he did not know he had green fingers before then. He eventually furthered his studied in the US, Italy, Austria and Israel.

For 17 years, he worked at the Department of Agriculture, before opening his own landscaping business. He opened a number of English-style garden centres and won accolades from the likes of the British Association of Landscape Industries (BALI) and the European Landscape Contractors Association (ELCA). In 2001, together with his son Carlos and three other major entrepreneurs, he formed a consortium, the Environmental Landscapes Consortium (ELC), which assumed responsibility for the maintenance, design and upkeep of all public areas, including roundabouts and public gardens, which were previously under the care of the government. “It was a dream come true. I always had in mind that one day I would help make my country more attractive,” Mr Calamatta said. Examples of his landscaping projects are included in Gardening in Malta, which can be considered a sort of bible for the amateur or would-be gardener.

The high-end publication, designed by Maria Degabriele, is divided into five sections, covering basic principles such as plant nutrients, pests and disease control, plant propagation, cultivating various types of trees, watering – something Mr Calamatta says Maltese gardeners are most weak at − and drip irrigation, safety in the garden and essential garden tools. It also gives tips on how to turn a courtyard into a beautiful green space or how to create a Japanese-style garden. Common Mediterranean plants found in Malta and Gozo are also listed and their names are explained. “The book is easy to read and makes for a good coffee table book. It’s nostalgic in approach and all possible gardening questions are answered,” Mr Calamatta noted, adding it would make for a good school textbook. Gardening in Malta is being launched on Friday evening on the lawn of the Presidential Palace in Attard. Distributed by Miller Distributors, it will be available for sale at all bookshops from September 10.  

Interview by Stephanie Fsadni – www.timesofmalta.com

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On the 25th April 2018 the Honourable Prime Minister of Malta, Dr Joseph Muscat, visited the ELC

The visit of Prime Minister Of Malta, Dr Jospeh Muscat, at the nursery of ELC-Enviromental Landscapes Consortium

On the 25th April 2018 the Honourable Prime Minister of Malta, Dr Joseph Muscat, visited the ELC , Environmental Landscapes Consortium , at their nursery and offices at Wied Incita, Attard. This was the first visit of Dr Muscat as Prime Minister and it was timed to coincide with the preparations which were in the final stages for the INFIORATA to commemorate the Valletta 18 celebrations. The Prime Minister, who was also accompanied by the Minister for the Environment, Dr. Jose’ Herrera, was welcomed by Mr. Peter Calamatta, Chairman of the ELC and the Directors as also several of the workers who work on the nursery. 

The Prime Minister was able to witness the enormous task of preparing over 200,000 flowering seedling to a perfect flowering condition for display at the INFIORATA held at St. George’s Square in front of the PALACE in Valletta. These preparation had been going on for over 6 months and several specialised workmen were involved. The Prime Minister and his entourage were visibly impressed with the work involved and the beauty of the thousands of flowering pots in full bloom and a variety of colours as dictated by the design which was a very special one this being the year of Valletta 18. After a tour around the nursery the delegation addressed the press with various speeches and answered questions from the reporters present. 

The delegation was then invited for private consultation and refreshments at the boardroom of  the ELC. Before departing the Prime Minister forecast a bright future for the ELC and launched fresh negotiations for the renewal and extension of the Private Public Partnership agreement which was already in its 15th year.

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I dedicate this book to my first two mentors, my father John and my mother Angela, who taught me the values of life that have stayed with me throughout my 76 years of existence.

Launch of Book “Me and My Mentors”​

The launch of Peter Calamatta’s new book “Me and My Mentors” took place on Saturday 24th February at the Throne Room of The Grandmaster’s Palace in Valletta thanks to the auspices of Her Excellency Mrs Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca.  The day before, the 23rd February, Peter’s 77th birthday, was possibly the stormiest, wettest and dull day Malta has experienced this winter.  Things did not auger well.

As if by accord Saturday, the launch day, the sun shone as if to herald and announce this beautifully produced biographical account about Peter’s life mentors.

The Throne Room, possibly the most prestigious venue in Malta was full to capacity and those present were first addressed by Her Excellency who related how the book, of which she had a preview had impressed her with the simplicity and sincerity with which it’s anecdotes relating to Peter’s mentors were related and turned into life lessons in the written word.  The life lessons and genuinely human principles contained in the stories should be an example to all of us and it showed how Peter was brought up in a family with solid Christian principles and strong belief in God.  Her Excellency encouraged all to read this book from which so much could be learnt and passed on to others thus making of us all real mentors.

Following is an excerpt from Her Excellency’s speech.

“It is not often that we give credit to the people who have left an impact on our lives due to their mentoring, so it is wonderful to see Peter Calamatta, who has mentored people to appreciate the natural heritage of Malta, take time to acknowledge his own mentors. The role of mentors in our lives is essential because it initiates a process of transformation within the individual, which has positive repercussions across all our communities.

I would like to commend Peter Calamatta for taking the time to write this inspiring book.  Let me also encourage all of us to keep building and supporting a culture of mentorship.  Let us reach across the boundaries of age, gender, ethnicity or other differences.  Let us actively develop the full potential of people, and in the process, let us all create a lasting legacy, by making a real difference in someone else’s life.”

Peter Calamatta followed with a speech in which he explained how following the great success of his previous book “Maltese Plants in the Bible” he was bombarded with requests from family and friends to write an autobiography of his eventful life.  Peter did not want to repeat the format of modern day biographies because it is not in his style to embark on an account of his life with lots of trumpet blowing.  Indeed he decided to tell his own story with all its ups and downs, through the eyes of those people who helped him become was he is today, namely his MENTORS.  Peter expanded the meaning of mentorship to include not just persons but also organisations and in one particular case the painting of “The Christ” by Guido Cali.  The varied list of mentors includes Dun Gorg Preca, The Scouts Movement, Peter’s Universities in England and America, Mons Charles Vella and Fr Hilary Tagliaferro, his brother Narcy, his wife Simone and as his first mentors his mother and father.

After a break to listen to a piece of music of wonderful music played by the classic duo Mark Rapa and Simon Vella the audience was addressed by Marquis Nicholas de Piro, who had also pre-read the book and who is related to Peter’s wife Simone on the Cali side.  Nicholas is an articulate and down to earth speaker who captivated the audience with anecdotes taken from Peter’s book but related in his inimitable style.

Following is an extract from Marquis de Piro’s speech:

“The book being launched today has been an eye-opener and I wholeheartedly recommend it to you all.  It can change your minds and make you happy!  It is about straight, rightful and proper conscience that needs truth and triumphs with goodness and kills cunning and triumphs with innocence to achieve wisdom and even sophistication. The Calamatta children were, fortunately for them, not spoilt and their much encouraged education and their sense of honour handed down through good parenting would, at the end of the day, always see them through.

As I read through this impressive book I come to the conclusion that Peter and perhaps all his family make friends that stay friends.  Peter had numerous occasions to take critical and indeed grave decisions which could have proved serious for him and his family if they had gone wrong.  He was wise enough to take advice, not out of weakness or lack of drive but because he had the intelligence to test his decisions and make enquiries from trustworthy people in order to put them to the test.

It is will all sincerity that I take my hat off to one of Malta’s great sons.  A man, a real man.  A man who put his conscience first and did not let ‘what pays’ intervene in the truths he had learnt to love and respect. Ladies and Gentlemen I wish Peter Calamatta and all his family all the blessings that they truly deserve.  Peter leaves a legacy of good behaviour and fine example. 

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Mons. Charles G. Vella.

May you rest in heavenly peace where I am certain you will be organising great events to glorify our Lord GOD.​

Very early this last Saturday morning a great man and cleric passed away to better pastures.Mons. Charles vella known by all those close to him a s Dun Charles ta- Kana left this world just a few months before his 90th birthday. Fr Charles was a living momnument to how a person can dedicate his life totally and unconditionally towards the betterment of of other persons who are less fortunate. For me personally and for all our family he has beenour moral rock and mrntor for over 60 years. Even when he was away from Malta we were always in contact and we visited him often in Milano which became his second home and the renowned San Raffaele Hospital his base for reaching out. I feel honoured to have included a long chapter about Fr Charles in my book ME and My Mentors publishrd and launched just a few days before he passed away. When I gave him a copy of the book he immediately went to his chapter , read it silently while moving his lips and then with tear filled eyes he whispered towards me “ Peter I do not deserve this, you would have made it even without my help”. Such was the humilty of the man who outwardly may have seemed domineering and pompous but in reality was an example of great humility. These last few years we were in daily contact with two to three phone call a day and regular visits to Dar Tal-Kleru where he was being cared for as his health gradually deteriorated. I will never forget how his eyes lit up, even when he was in great pain, the minute I entered his room.We talked about any topic under the sun but always with one objective, that of doing good to those in need. Though very week he kept on planning great things and projects for the future. Alas he could not see them through as his body was giving up while his mind was still lucid and bright.

With his passing away Malta has lost a great man, a ceaseless reformer and an innovative writer who penned books that were translated into many languges and are still used as reference points in particular the book about Ethics in The Medical Field. I personally lost a great friend who mentored and shaped my life and stood by me in both the good times and the bad times when because of my illnesses I was fighting for my life.

 Thank you Fr Charles not just for what you did for me but for the good you did to thousands of others, especially newly married couples, and those you helped through serious illnesses thanks to the respect you enjoyed at the San Raffaele Hospital im Milano. May you rest in heavenly peace where I am certain you will be organising great events to glorify our Lord GOD.