Posts Tagged ‘pomegranate’

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Pomegranates

June 2, 2012

Just how do they do it?  How is it possible for a fruit tree to thrive on neglect and to oscillate between ugly-as-hell and drop-dead-gorgeous?

It’s the time of the year when we fall in love with the pomegranates all over again.  Lush greenery, abundant growth and masses and masses of the most beautiful and showy scarlet blossom.  And all of this from trees which get no care or attention, no watering or feeding, no pruning.

Blossom

Scarlet blossom

The empty house next door has a mature tree, perhaps 20 feet tall, and we have a similar one just next to our back door.  Their tree gets no attention as they only visit the house once or twice a year; ours gets some fairly inept pruning once a year and that’s it.  In return each produces hundreds of massive pomegranates each year.

Next door’s pomegranate tree

Between you and I, I prefer them right now when they are full of blossom.  The colour, that sharp pop of orangey-red, is a reminder that summer is really on its way.  And as the flowers are pollinated and the fruit sets the blossom falls away from the tree and makes the most gorgeous red confetti on the ground.

A sprinkling of blossom

And all this from a tree that, in winter, looks like it should be chopped down to put it out of its misery.  It’s hard to imagine a tree that looks more desolate and unloved than a pomegranate in January.  But right now … it is just gorgeous.

Taken January 2010

Plenty of fruit to come

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The garden, mid-May

May 22, 2010

Another month, another round-up of the garden.

The main lemon crop needs picking.  Strong winds over recent days have dislodged a good number of ripe fruit; happily there are dozens more on the tree still.

Dropped Lemons

Our biggest challenge is finding homes for them.  There’s no question that we can use sliced lemons, zest and juice throughout the year and within a few months there won’t be ripe lemons left on the trees.  The only issue is just how much we can squeeze into the freezer.

The arum lilies have decided that they’ve had enough for this year.  The last of the flowers have gone and the foliage is dying back.  Once it has gone completely we’ll be able to have another attempt at lifting the remaining rhizomes and relocating them to elsewhere in the garden.  The narcissi have already had similar treatment; they were scattered in and around the area containing the monster yucca.  Having tied them up some months ago and allowed the foliage to die back we spent the good part of an afternoon searching them out and lifting them.  The plan, such as there is one, is to plant them in a series of containers which can then take centre-stage when they are in flower.

Elsewhere the pomegranate trees are in full bloom.  The flowers are absolutely fantastic and as the fruits set the petals fall from the tree creating a delicate red carpet across the donkey track.  Were it not for the minor rodent issue we would be absolutely over the moon with the amount of fruit we might expect.

Pomegranate flowers

An abundance of blossom

Pomegranate in full bloom

A carpet of petals

The pomegranate isn’t the only one bursting into life.  Last month we mentioned that the bougainvillea was putting on a massive amount of growth and the first colour had recently appeared.  In less than a month it has gone from a tiny amount of coloured bracts to being absolutely stunning.  As an added advantage, when the plant had this much growth it provides good and solid shade underneath which, as the days heat up, is very welcome.

Bougie, from above

Coloured bracts

More next month.

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The garden, mid-April

April 26, 2010

Yes, yes, mid-April is long gone.  That’s what swimming with icebergs will do … it freezes the brain and results in days passing without you realising.  Beware of icy cold water!


Good grief, will this lot never stop growing?  When we bought them we had no idea how much use the garden loppers would get.  Considering they cost less than 20€ they have proved invaluable.

The citrus trees are, pretty much, pruned for this season.  Far too late we know but at least they are done.  The poor old orange tree ended up having a haircut of epic proportions.  One of the branches was making a break for the sky and was easily as high as the second floor.  Some of the tree was in poor condition, and the break-for-the-sky branch was alive with bugs.  So we, reluctantly, took the decision to prune it drastically in the hope that it would solve a multitude of problems.

Top two-thirds of the orange tree gone

Should the tree make it through the year then it is a prime candidate for our own fruit cocktail tree experiment.  Imagine being able to graft a branch of our tiny lime tree onto the mature orange and kick-start our lime production.  At the moment we get about 3 a year so any increase on that would be appreciated; we can buy limes in the fruitaria but they are usually imported from South America.

The bougainvillea is also attempting to set world records for the fastest growth possible in an improbably short space of time.  How, exactly, did we manage to forget that it did this?  We’ve fallen into a weekly routine of lopping back the worst overhanging branches just so we have a chance to make it to the front door.

Note the re-appearance of the painting kit

Underneath bougie

This week the first colour started to appear.  The plant’s flowers are tiny, white and unremarkable; the fantastic display of colour is provided by bracts, a type of modified leaf.  Poinsettias, the plant so often seen in deepest winter is the same, the deep scarlet comes from a coloured leaf, not a flower.

Meanwhile the pomegranates are flowering.  This is both good and bad news: the flowers are absolutely gorgeous but the local wildlife enjoy them too much.

Did you spot the euphemism there?  Doesn’t local wildlife sound better than pack of rats who we can’t get rid of despite many attempts and significant amounts of angst?  Regular readers will have seen the occasional reference to a rodent problem.  Lets be clear; both the derelict house next door to us and the empty plots behind have rats.  This is deeply, deeply troubling.  Apparently these rats adore the seeds from unripe pomegranates and next door’s tree abuts our wall.  Our tree, as named on our deeds, abuts our bedroom window.  No prizes for guessing which window never, ever gets opened!

We’d discussed stripping both trees (yes, including the one on next door’s land – these are rats!) of their blossom in the assumption that no blossom would mean no fruit which would mean no rats.  Sadly this plan came crashing to the ground as one of those creatures was seen romping up the tree which doesn’t even have any fruit on it yet.  Plan B, possibly involving a gallon of petrol and a box of matches, is under discussion now.  Really we can’t endure another year of sitting in the garden eating a pleasant meal with friends whilst watching those things run up and down the tree trunk.

Anyway, let’s concentrate on the positive.  The flowers?  They are really, really lovely.  And when you consider how desolate the trees looked over winter it is amazing what a show they put on just a few months later.

Pomegranates, if they don't all get eaten

Some of the roses have decided that there’s no point in having one flower when you could have a dozen or more.  They have an incredibly short lifespan though lasting just a day or two.  Since there are another few dozen rosebuds to follow it’s hard to object though.

Pink roses

In other news we finally found time to plant up some large containers that we brought with us from the UK.  Either side of the front door was now have a matched pair of guards comprising of some white geraniums and ivy.

Guarding the front door

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The garden, mid-January

January 16, 2010

The weather here continues to be variable.  After a week or more of clear and sunny days we’ve now got a forecast of rain and storms for a week or so.  The fire, our only heating, continues to be a feature of our evening schedule.  In the garden the plants and trees seem to be split into two broad groups: they’re either growing like crazy or in hibernation mode.

The winter flowering jasmine [Jasminum nudiflorum] has recently burst into a mass of flower.  During the warmer months it grows, slowly and steadily, in and around the bougainvillea.  As January comes round it starts to burst into ropes of bright yellow flowers.  Unlike most other jasmines it has no fragrance but the flashes of colour are welcome at this time of year.

Winter flowering jasmine

Jasmine flowers up close

While the jasmine is un-fragranced we are hoping to introduce a highly fragranced plant to the garden.  This week we potted several dozen stephanotis [Stephanotis floribunda] seeds.  A friend had lovely plant trained across a garden trellis.  It had started in a small pot on a balcony and then been transferred into the ground when she moved house.  Three summers ago it produced a huge seed pod; two summers ago it produced another dozen or more one of which was gifted to us.  The seed pod, which is similar in size and shape to an avocado, has been allowed to dry and split to release the seeds.  Should they germinate they may join the other climbers on the pergola.  Whilst stephanotis is normally grown as a small house plant in the UK, here it will grown 10 feet or more tall.

The trusty bougainvillea has been taking a well earned rest.  It has dropped pretty much all of its leaves and coloured bracts and looks distinctly uninspiring at this time of year.  The previous owner declined to prune it at all so we are still, a year on, playing catch up.  Dried leaves, flowers and bracts from multiple previous years remain trapped inside a network of old dead wood.  Last year we spent hours trimming, pruning and lopping the old wood to try and release them.  We managed to remove much of it, hopefully this year’s pruning will deal with the rest.  And it became clear this week that the bougainvillea pruning needs to happen soon; the new growth is just starting to appear.  This year though we won’t be keeping the old wood for the fire, lesson learnt there!

Each of the fruit trees is continuing along its seasonal path: the lemons have a mix of ripe and immature fruit, the clementines are ready for picking, the oranges are ripening, the peaches are blossoming.

No shortage of Vitamin C

We have high hopes for the peach this year; it is only a small potted tree but in its first year it produced half a dozen wonderful fruit.  Last year it was unsettled by the move here, either by the physical transportation or the difference in temperature and altitude.  It produced not a single fruit.  This week it has started showing signs of life once more with new shoots and four blossoms.  There are few things prettier than blossom on a peach tree and despite knowing that our maximum crop this year will be just four peaches we are absurdly happy to see it back with us.

Peach blossom

Of the fruit trees only the pomegranate looks desolate; it is hard to imagine a sorrier looking tree than a pomegranate in its rest phase.  It is difficult to reconcile its current state with just how lovely it looks when it is in leaf and setting fruit.  Even before it gets to the fruit stage, when it is still in flower, it is one of the highlights of the garden; the splashes of scarlet flower are so dramatic and full of promise.  Apparently they, as well as flowers, are still placed on the tomb of Catherine of Aragon, Henry VIII’s first wife.  Her family coat of arms included the pomegranate, a symbol the of Granada region of Spain.

Resting pomegranate

Finally, a follow-up from last year.  In October we mentioned that the unidentified yellow tree was inundated with huge bees collecting pollen.  A friend from Ireland subsequently suggested that it might be an Esperanza [Tecoma stans], otherwise known as Yellow Bells or Yellow Elder.  Online images seem to indicate that she is spot on in her identification.

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The garden, mid-November

November 23, 2009

The weather is changing.  Daytimes are bright, sunny and hot out of the wind.  But dusk comes early to our valley at this time of year; the sun starts to disappear behind the hill to the west of us not long after 3pm.  The temperature falls quickly once the sun has gone but the house, with its half metre thick walls still retains the heat well.

In the garden the citrus fruits continue to ripen.  In England all our fruit came from the supermarket so it is still strange to us to see the different stages the fruits, particularly the small satsuma/clementine/tangerine goes through.  Right now we have plenty of green fruit alongside those that are both pale yellow and weak orange in hue.  We think it will be a least a couple more weeks before the first of them are fully ripen.

Meanwhile the lemons continue to ripen and plump up.  Surprisingly, it is our first full year of owning a lemon tree, we have a small second blossom and therefore some new lemons setting just as the early crop is finishing its ripening process.

Elsewhere the pomegranates are ripe to the point of splitting.  The 20 foot high yucca has decided that outward, rather than upward, expansion is the best course of action and is producing offsets at an alarming rate.  These need to be broken off and potted up for friends.   While we had our backs turned clusters of bulbs have woken up; best guess is that they are some sort of narcissi.  From last year we know that they are similar to paperwhites but rather smaller and without such a pronounced fragrance.

Finally Mands efforts earlier this year to dig up the arum lily at the base of the large pithari appear not to have been entirely successful; the lilies are back again.  The flowers, and foliage, are wonderful but their position right at the bottom of the staircase is dangerous.

Assorted photos below.  Click on any picture for an enlarged version.

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The garden, mid-October

October 15, 2009

The sun is shining, jobs are done for the day so before we put the kettle on for a well earned cup of tea we thought it would be useful to get some photos of the fruit trees in the garden and surroundings. The fruit is ripening day by day so it’s a good time to capture where each of the trees is in their cycle.

The small citrus tree is absolutely laden with fruit … they are tiny, but there are plenty of them.

Mandarins ... tangerines ... satsumas ... clementines?

Mandarins ... tangerines ... satsumas ... clementines?

So far we aren’t entirely sure what they are … mandarins, clementines, satsumas, tangerines?  Mad Alex allowed someone to strip all the fruit from the tree before we took possession last year.  For some time this wasn’t clear, leaving us thinking the tree produced no fruit at all, until we spotted two stray fruit lurking right in the very centre.  Clearly too hard to harvest for whoever took the rest of the fruit!  We picked the remaining two and they were lovely … not too sweet or too tart and not oversupplied with pips either.

So far it looks like we’ll get a good crop but at the moment over 95% of the fruit are still a dark green.  The occasional one or two are starting to turn to a pale green, then yellow before becoming bright orange in late November.

Just starting to ripen

Just starting to ripen

The two lemon trees are also doing well.  The tree near the gate has larger, still solid green, lemons; the garage tree  has smaller but more advanced lemons which are just starting to turn yellow.

Green lemons on the gate-end tree

Green lemons on the gate-end tree

Ripening lemon on the garage-end tree

Ripening lemon on the garage-end tree

The pomegranate tree is presenting some problems with regard to its attractiveness to local wildlife, but that’s an issue for another day.  In the meantime the fruit that have escaped such attention are ripening fantastically well.  One of our neighbours has three trees in her courtyard.  Last year she estimated that they produced over 100 kg of fruit between them.  Far, far more that she could use or give away to friends, so she ended up bagging up the fruit and leaving them outside her house with a note offering them for free to tourists.

Near-ripe pomegranates

Near-ripe pomegranates

Just around the corner, down the donkey track, there is a derelict plot containing the remains of a partially renovated two storey house.  If anyone is looking for an adventurous renovation project then look no further!  In the absence of any care and maintenance pomegranate and particularly fig trees have been growing unchecked.  The figs are coming on well, with a mix of under-ripe and hard green fruit and delicious looking ripe purple figs.

Ripening figs

Ripening figs

Yet more figs

Yet more figs

Those with a keen eye may notice an interloper in the second of the fig photos.

The photographer gets no points for observation today having missed the tiny praying mantis posing on a branch just off to the left of the figs.

All being well, updates to come in due course!