My pomegranate bush (in the countryside of Posadas, Cordova)

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.

…Not in our case!…

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.

My dwarf pomegranate

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!

An update on my vegetable patch (in the countryside of Cordova, Andalusia)

Hi folks! I’m back again, writing from my sunny, sweltering and steadily-desertifing home in the countryside of Posadas (a village of about 7.350 inhabitants, lying about 35 km / 22 mi west of the renowned Cordova, Andalusia). Temperature today is 41° C = 105.8° F, but going up to 44° = 112.2 F on Sunday. Yipee!!!

View from my house, looking north towards the Sierra Morena Hills

(For more information on tourism in Posadas and the many interesting cultural, historical and nature-based places to visit in the surrounding areas of this Guadalquivir Valley and Sierra Morena range, you can see the council’s link at: https://www.posadas.es/turismo)

Anyway, I realised that I hadn’t kept my promise that I made in my earlier blog, My vegetable patch and the mines of Peñarroya – Pueblonuevo, north of Cordova, Andalusia (28-01-2020) of keeping you updated as to the progress of my vegetable patch. I posted the first photos in January when the plants were just wee little things. Now six months on they have matured a lot and are all producing fruit, even if they look a bit higgledy-piggledy and worse for wear.

Looks cuddly — but beware!
One of the locals — also prone to gate-crashing my veg patch!

This isn’t actually my fault, but that of the wild boar, who, a few moonlit nights ago decided to make a bee-line for my green ‘oasis’ — (last year it was a stray cow that gate-crashed, eating all the vegetables, save for the chilli peppers — smart lass was she!).

The wild boar forced his way under the chicken wire, levering it up with his plough-shaped head and powerful neck, then trotted his barrel-shaped body down the lines of maturing courgettes, peppers, aubergines, tomatoes, spinach, Swiss chard and potatoes. He sniffed with delight the freshly-applied manure before then steadily hoofing around each plant while nuzzling away in search for roots and mushrooms.

Very powerful neck and head — good leverage, contrasting with the delicate feet!

He uplifted and neatly pushed aside each and every plant with his delicate paws, as well as the supporting canes. I must admit though, he did work methodically and meticulously in an organised sort of way.

 However, when I went down in the morning to water, I was met with catastrophe! It took a while to assimilate what had happened — but then I quickly set to. I feverishly started to restraighten and replug everything back in, recovering the exposed roots with the upturned earth — (while just clad in my pyjama shorts, skimpy top and flip-flops) — until I eventually brought some sort of normality back to my vegetable patch.

It took quite a bit of effort, but things haven’t quite returned to what they were beforehand, hence the unprofessional look. Also, the downside to me gardening in my summer pjs was that I got five nasty bites on my legs which swelled into big blisters and lasted about a week! I still have the marks now. (Must’ve been a horsefly or tiger mosquito.)

Mind you, it could’ve been worse, what with those amber-coloured scorpions and millipedes who are my regularly-visiting neighbours.

Yuck!
Double yuck!

My dogs, Zeus and Dingo, did try to ward off the boar by barking from afar. Here is a photo of the heroes. You can see that although they have their own cool, covered area, somehow they always decide to dig a hole in my border, pushing my watering pipe aside to then fall asleep on the freshly-watered earth.

My brave heroes — Dingo and Zeus

Oh for the joys of living in the Andalusian countryside!

So here are some recent photos (including the view looking south over the guadalquivir Valley, in the direction of the Sierra of Malaga, which lies at about 160 km / 95 mi away) :-

Thank you for reading — see you soon — hope you’re all well! xxx

(PS. If you’d like to know more about where I live — Posadas and previously, Cordova town — and what I’m up to, then you can take a peek at my blog: From Richmond Park to the historic town of Cordovahttps://anenglishladyincordova.home.blog/2019/12/19/from-richmond-park-to-the-historic-town-of-cordova/. )

WARNING: it is a long one, but does have many pictures, so just looking at these will give you a good idea of both these places!

The views from my four porches of my country abode in Posadas (Cordova, Andalusia)

Two of my twelve cats, ‘Snowy’ and ‘Handbag’ perched on the olive tree, contemplating the view of the Guadalquivir Valley

Our country abode in the countryside of Posadas (province of Cordova in Andalusia) is blessed with many porches, and so I in turn am blessed with many wide, expansive views. I have also been blessed with the gift of acquisitioning and upcycling things that others don’t want, and that is how I have come to own numerous plastic but comfortable green chairs on each porch. Though I haven’t as yet given them that promised lick of paint nor crotchet cushions, I am very spoilt by the choice of where I can sit. One porch faces north, another south and the other two look out to the east and west; and each one offers its own particular usefulness depending on the season. All of them offer panoramic views of landscape, as well as glimpses of secretive, nocturnal animals, and also of distant villages overflowing with historical content. (If you ever get the chance to visit this neck of the woods, you should!)

The ever-expanding mulberry tree

The porch that faces north is great for summer when the object of hiding from the machine-gunning sun is a question of life and death. More shade is afforded by the shaggy mulberry tree that dips its leafy fronds low and in plentiful array. The green mulberries ripen fat and sweet and it’s an annual competition to see who gets to eat them first: me or the noisy, squawking Mediterranean azure-winged magpies that alight in gregarious flocks onto the dipping branches.

The birds’ gregarious nature and strident, insistent calls also give them away, screeching out at early daybreak, waking you with a start on a ‘lazy-lie-in’ Sunday morning.

A local of Gibraltar (and found only in this location of Spain)

However, these blue-winged creatures haven’t always been Spanish nationals, or natives of central and southern Iberia—they apparently originated in the Far East. It is believed that Marco Polo (or his later Spanish counterpart, Cristobal Colón and his troupe of Portuguese mariners aboard the Pinta, Niña or Santa María) must have brought back these birds via the Silk Route. They now abound in inland Andalusia, but for some reason they avoid Gibraltar: perhaps they are scared away by the tailless North African Barbary macaque apes that inhabit The Rock. It is thought that the apes swung and knuckle-walked over from Africa about five million years ago, and were also imported into Spain by the 8th century North African invaders. Once here, they stayed. According to the Spanish historian, Ignacio López de Ayala: ‘Neither the incursions of Moor, the Spaniards nor the English, nor cannon nor bomb of either have been able to dislodge them’, (from his History of Gibraltar, 1782).

There is also the eastern porch. This is a great place to contemplate the swollen, fried-egg sunrises which herald a sizzling day; but in winter, the yellow yolk loses intensity and is diluted by the mist and humidity that hang in the chilly air.

The setting sun as it dips low between the olive trees

There is also the western porch from where you can observe the pomegranate sunsets: burnished gold gives way to rose-tinted apricot and orange hues and these stains are suffused with bloody reds and indigo-purples before being finally ingested by the Prussian-blue sky.

Looking westwards over the top of my Indian Bean tree

When the last traces of the cobalt-violets have eventually been absorbed by the dusky infinity, the sky comes alive with a myriad of glistening stars—some aluminiumy, others more amber.

I am always well-accompanied!
Stars abound!

But the red-orange of Mars and the splendent, white-yellow of Venus are always distinct from the rest. (Many times I have made a wish when, during one of my numerous night-time vigils—often accompanied by a huffing hedgehog or a ghost or two—I have spotted a shooting star carving a brilliant curve in the darkness as it wields its way towards finality.)

But it is the southern porch that I like the most. It is the one where I have spent endless hours under the shade of the centenarian olive tree, helping my children with their homework, or playing cards, scrabble and monopoly with them; or just simply painting stones together. This porch also affords long and lengthy views over the hilly olive groves that sink down and gradually flatten out to form part of the level plains of the Guadalquivir Valley.

Looking southwest, over the plains of the Guadalquivir, towards the village of Posadas (which lies at about 34 km west of Cordova)

And looking eastwards, one can spy the enchanted castle of Almodóvar del Rio perched high on La Floresta hill (mentioned in a previous blog of mine).

Dusk view of the enchanted medieval castle of Almodóvar del Río, stage set for Game of Thrones and Warrior Nun (and where, in 1226 AD, the Muslim King of Baeza was decapitated under the orders of the then-reigning Almohad caliph, as a retribution for his alliance with the catholic King Ferdinand)

Well, that’s all for now folks — hope you enjoyed reading / looking, and I’ll be back soon with some more descriptions of where and how I live…

(PS. Parts of the above were taken from my book, An English Lady in Cordova — the ‘Alternative’ Guide — available, with some of my other works at https://www.etsy.com/es/shop/GillysWork?ref=search_shop_redirect

Take care! xxx