I had never seen a pomegranate bush until I went to Italy donkeys ago.
It was in September of 1982 and I was taking a year’s sabbatical before going to university to study geology. We went camping in the wild, all over Italy in our old, blue VW Variant — the one that we had previously chopped the top off and made it into a convertible after my brother-in-law had rolled the car, damaging the roof.
We painted it a sporty rosso farina red. Then we were ready for action!
We were young then, brave, diehard — and poor! — so we slept in this illegally-converted jalopy, camping out in the wild to be close to nature (and to save money) — touring for a month (until the first gear went!) down through France, all over Italy, up into Switzerland, down the length of Yugoslavia and then into Greece. (Things were easy-going then, rules were less sticky and severe.)
At one point I had to pop into the doctor’s near Lake Como, because my face had swollen up due to the constant eddying of the wind. (Luckily I could communicate in Italian, being from Italian parentage myself.) He explained that I had to keep out of the wind, so we devised a full headscarf from which only my green eyes peeped out. I soon improved, despite the huge mosquito bites I later got all over my body after sleeping the night on the beach near Pescara on the Adriatic.
That’s also where the first fisherman that arrived at dawn had to push us out of the sand, because the tide had come up so much at night, reaching half way up the wheels, so that by morning we were well-embedded in!
Anyway, it was while camping in the wild that I stumbled across the beautiful, orange, fleshy flowers that speckled a luscious-green bush — they stood out proud against the bright, narrow leaves. On closer examination I noticed that behind the crinkly, tissue-paper petals that covered the star-shaped sepals, there was a round protuberance. I realised then that this was a miniature pomegranate. It lay half-concealed by those wrinkly petals — and was beautiful! So it’s no wonder that this juicy descendant from the Middle-East is referred to as ‘jewels in the fruit crown’.
I wanted to preserve the flowers and take them back to London with me, so I tried to press them, but it wasn’t successful because the calyx was too fleshy.
However, since that time so far ago, coming across pomegranate bushes and trees is a very common occurrence for me now that I live in Andalusia. I have a miniature bush growing in my D-garden (you know, the one where my dogs like to excavate in search of cooler, freshly-watered earth). Though the bush is dwarf size, it produces lots of the showy flowers and dwarf-sized fruit.
There are also some very large pomegranate trees that grow wild along the stream at the bottom of our steep olive finca (where the wild boars have their dens), but they are so tall that only the birds can get at the fruit.
But then recently, about two months ago, I acquired some roots of the bushes that were growing in a nearby finca: the tractor was ploughing up the land, making way for thousands of Alberquina olive trees that were going to be planted there. I asked for some roots and then planted them in terracotta pots filled with potting compost and horse manure (that our friend regularly supplies me with — though chicken manure is said to be better — that is, manure made from chicken droppings and not the actual chickens). And this is the result:
My idea is to let the bushes grow into trees of about 2 m height, encouraging them to umbrella out so that it is easy to look after the tree and fruit. I will have to throw a net over the tree to keep off the hungry birds! (I should be doing the same with my fig tree now really, which is now producing loads of juicy figs…)
Well, that’s it for me and my pomegranate bushes for now.
Just a couple of points though:-
— If you are interested in seeing the Balcón de Córdoba Hotel mentioned above, where I used to live (and had a tourist shop on the ground floor), then this is the link: https://balcondecordoba.com/galeria/?lang=en
— and if you are interested in knowing what I got up to in this old house with the Moorish-style patio, then you can have a look at my previous blog, entitled From Richmond Park to the Historic Town of Cordova (taken from my book An English Lady in Cordova — the Alternative Guide — available from me…)
Thank you for reading — as usual, I am happy to receive any comments or questions.
Hope this finds you all in good health and spirits — bye for now!