We have heard of guerrilla gardeners, planting gardens in public spaces under the cover of night. And there are guerrilla knitters in New York, Texas, Mexico, London, Canada, Japan and Singapore, amongst other places, drawing our attention to neglected public spaces or simply, wanting to embellish otherwise dreary city landmarks. They are a clandestine group of woolly warriors who do knit graffiti or Knitivism, decorating lamp posts, trees, street signs and public sculptures with their knitted goods. In Spain, cities such as Bilbao, Barcelona, Valencia and Madrid have seen urban knitting over the last two years.
A few days ago, it was Palma’s turn. Under the cover of darkness, a good dozen female guerrilla knitters planted 200 flowers knitted or crocheted in wool under the olive tree in Plaça Cort. I wanted to see their Knitivism street art and rushed to Palma on Friday but, alas, the law-and-order brigade or whoever else had already removed the surely inoffensive adornments. I find this undertaking quite poetical or lyrical. As it happens, the 14th Festival de Poesia de la Mediterrània is in full swing on the island but, the poetic visual suitability of the knitted garden in front of Palma’s Ajuntament seems to have escaped the mandarins in Palma. A shame, really.
The photos were borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of diariodemallorca.es (top), craftism.wordpress.com (centre) and streetblog.cie-taxibrousse.com (bottom).
According to legend, the pomegranate (Punica granatum) grew in the garden of Eden. The pomegranate is a great and versatile fruit; it has been cultivated and naturalised in the Mediterranean region since ancient times. The fruit is surrounded by a long and colourful history of symbolic meaning and mythical tales. It is referred to in Greek, Hebrew, Buddhist, Islamic, and Christian mythology and writings. Many cultures use various parts of the tree and the fruit to make medicinal potions or other concoctions. The pomegranate is described in records dating from around 1500 BC as a treatment for tapeworm and other parasites.
The pomegranate tree can live for many years, some say for up to 200 years. I particularly like the pomegranate flower (see photo top).
The pomegranate fruit can be found in some coats of arms of royalty and nobility. It is also used as a pattern in old carpets and rugs from Persia, India, East Turkistan or China (see photo below).
The photo (top) was taken near Llucmajor, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: June 6th, 2012. The time was 11:47:18. The photo (bottom) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of metropolitancarpet.com.
When we first came to Mallorca, it was one of our first ambitions to have a lemon tree in our garden. We pretty soon succeeded in planting our very own specimen.
Only much later we came to realize that the sweet aroma of orange blossoms was an equally important addition to our perfumed garden, if not much more so. You have to smell an orange tree in full bloom to know the fragrant smell; words alone can’t describe it. Orange blossoms are all prim and virginal when the buds are shut tight. But when those petals part and the plump and sticky, frilly and feathery bits of pistil and stamen spill out, orange blossoms look just a bit promiscuous. Pollinating bees everywhere respond to this sensory scent like a moth is attracted to the consuming flame.
Not all that long ago, Mallorcans were busy producing Agua de Azahar or Flor de Taronger, an orange flower water also known as Fleur d’Oranger. I imagine that this stimulant was first initiated by the Maurish settlers on this island, hundreds of years ago. Today, no such tonic water is produced here in Mallorca. One can buy Fleur d’Oranger in a Morrocan corner shop, though, and a cheaper version in one or the other supermarket. Fleur d’Oranger is a welcome ingredient for some baking and patisserie pastries and can also be used in cooking or to flavour drinks. In North Africa you will be offered Fleur d’Oranger to clean your hands as you enter a host’s house.
The photo was taken in Costitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: May 1st, 2012. The time was 12:46:59.
One could argue that Mallorca lived a moment of advancement and prosperity during the period of Moorish jurisdiction. During that time (902-1229), progress was made by refining agricultural methods, by introducing plants hitherto unknown on the island, by developing new forms of management of water resources, by governance of land areas and communities in newly determined juridical districts, by reshaping seafaring routes through accomplished maps and atlases and by starting new trade relations with North Africa and the European continent.
A lot of these achievements had to do with water. Perhaps water was more scarce and precious where the Berbers came from and thus more knowledge and wisdom was coming with them in the way they dealt with water resources and water management here on this island. The settlers only ever founded Alquerias (settlements, villages) where they had found a water source. Once found, they took great care to channel the precious liquid and to store it in ample Aljubs (cisterns). From here, they would conduct the water to where it was needed through canals or watercourses, or other forms of irrigation.
Alfabia is a good place to study the Moorish ways of water management. The estate goes back to an Islamic settlement near the Font d’Alfabia, a water source in the Puig d’Alfabia mountain, from where it was channeled through watercourses to storage reservoirs near the residential quarters, and from there through canals and ducts to the fields and terraces of plantation areas and gardens.
The sound of water is ever-present in Alfabia like an orchestrated composition of water music. Sit back and relax and you can enjoy the peace and solitude of nature, accompanied by the sound of trickling water, interspersed with chirping bird sounds and the resonance of wind in the trees. Bliss.
Admission fees have recently gone up to 6.50 € in Alfabia. Oh well.
The photo was taken near Bunyola, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: May 11th, 2012. The time was 15:15:31.
The Fira de ses Flors in Costitx is a bit of a misnomer. More appropriately, it should rather be called a fair of flowers, plants, trees, shrubs, herbs, grasses, ferns and other gardening and horticultural paraphernalia. But then, that would not roll so nicely off the tongue, would it? Anyway, the Fira was held yesterday; I went there with my wife and we thoroughly enjoyed our outing. Of all the Firas and Festes in Mallorca, there is only a handful or so that we really enjoy, and this one is one of them. Not everybody may agree with our choice but not everyone is into flowers and plants and trees and green fingers the way we are. Suum cuique.
The Fira de ses Flors is actually a bit of a peculiarity here in Mallorca. This one is not one of the traditional fairs or markets that has been going for hundreds or at least, dozens of years. This fair was devised with a political motivation. It was conceived by none other than Maria Antònia Munar i Riutort, longstanding Batlessa (mayoress) of Costitx from 1983 to 2007 but probably better known as the erstwhile President of nearly every political office Mallorca has to offer. Her ambition was to put her pueblo on the political map. She achieved that daunting task by instigating the Observatorio Astronómico de Mallorca in Costitx which was inaugurated in May 1991, and by initiating the Fira de ses Flors.
The talented lady was once Mallorca’s most popular and certainly most powerful female before she was seen as the most hated mayoress or indeed, politician amongst her compatriots. She is currently accused of a whole array of political misconduct and will stand in court any time soon, wanting to prove her innocence.
The photo was taken in Costitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: May 1st, 2012. The time was 13:43:19.
I am not trying to quote Charles Baudelaire today. The blossoming tree photo has nothing to do with his Fleurs du Mal. Instead, the tree flowers of spring attract bees and insects by the hundreds to collect pollen for the industrious production of honey (Catalan: mel), in the case of the bees, and for instant nourishment in the case of other insects. Luckily, there is the added benefit of pollination which is done in the process to ensure that this tree will give us the plum or apricot or whatever this tree will bear. What a wonderful invention of nature, pleasing all our senses in the act: our eyes, our noses, our ears, our taste buds and our scientific eagerness to learn and to study.
The photo was taken near Felanitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: April 6th, 2012. The time was 17:39:43.
I have reported about the Fundación Yannick y Ben Jakober a few times before and the gardens of Sa Bassa Blanca, near the Aucanada Golf course, not far from Port d’Alcúdia.
A visit there makes for such a pleasant outing, especially in the spring or in the autumn. The lovely gardens are just one part of the offerings at the Fundación Jakober, the other part being an impressive display of art, old and new, of paintings, sculpture and landscape installations (see photo above). In the main building, there is also a very special, old coffered Mudéjar ceiling.
The Fundación is open for visits all year around, from Tuesdays to Saturdays. Every Tuesday, there is an Open Day at Sa Bassa Blanca, when admission is free (09h30-12h30 and 14h30-17h30). The Mudéjar ceiling can be visited by appointment on Thursdays (10h00-12h00). For information, telephone 971.549.880.
The photo (top) was taken near Alcúdia, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: May 18th, 2008. The time was 16:30:10. It shows the detail of a sculpture by Ben Jakober (La Marseillaise, 1988), designed for the celebration of the French Revolution Bicentenary. The photo (bottom) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of arteinformado.com.
I sometimes wonder whether I like the first Mallorcan Springtime better than the second one, or the other way round. The first Primavera would be in January/February with half the island covered in white and pink almond blossoms, whereas the second Primavera would be now, from mid-March to mid-Aril, when hundreds of fruit trees of the peach, cherry, nectarine, apple, pear, prunes, plums variety and the like are in full bloom. The blossoms in today’s photo would appear to be of the pear variety (Pyrus communis); please correct me if I should be wrong. This pear is native to the island, strange as it may sound, as is the cherry (Prunus mahaleb).
The photo was taken in Felanitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: March 20th, 2012. The time was 17:58:20.
Talking about which, I’m a bit of a sex addict, to tell you the truth. Not only do I like the act of lovemaking but, I am also a bit of a voyeur when others engage in the act of procreation.
For the moment, I restrict my voyeuristic curiosity and exploration to the realm of plant life. Did you know that 90 % of flowering plants pollinate with the assistance of animals, birds, bees, insects and what have you. In the case of the Nerium Oleander (see photo) and the other ten percent of flowering plants, pollen or in this case, downy seeds are transferred by the wind, thereby enabling fertilisation and sexual reproduction. And the Oleander’s downy seeds look so fragile yet potent, so elusory yet vigorous.
Fascinating, isn’t it?
The photo was taken near Felanitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: March 2nd, 2012. The time was 17:09:34.
Some of the nicest places in Mallorca are those that we have yet to discover. Take Palma, for example, and the Jardí de Natzaret, in Paseo Marítimo below the Terreno district, just above from the Club de Mar and next door to the Abraxas club. The only problem is that you will probably not find the entrance to the gardens. The access is well hidden. It took me half a dozen attempts and numerous inquiries to finally get into the gardens, only yesterday. The thing is that the gardens (not the property) are public domain under the auspices of the Consell de Mallorca. The Jardines de Nazaret were included in the BIC catalogue (Bienes de Interés Cultural) in 2007.
The gardens are part of the FundaciónNatzaret, a church-run charity taking care of, educating and providing accommodation for homeless under-age children and adolescents. It all goes back to the nuns of the Oder of the Caritat in 1924, who received funds and property from a benefactor, to set-up and found a Missió. Originally, the gardens belonged to the Finca de s’Hort del Terreno. In 1925, an Escuela Natzaret, a school for homeless youngsters was founded. Currently, the property is being renovated in preparation to the children being looked after again. In the meantime, the youngsters are cared for somewhere else on the island, amongst others in outposts in Inca, Manacor and Palma. For male youngsters between the ages of 18 and 21, there exists a so-called Casa del Jove where flats are provided to help with a start into adult life.
If you want to support the charity, you can check details on their website (Castellano and Catalan only). The gardens are at this moment not terribly well-kept but if you want to visit to enjoy the setting and the impressive views you can go to the office/tienda of the Fundación in Avinguda Joan Miró and ask for permission to enter. You will not be disappointed.
The photos (top) and (bottom) were taken in Palma, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: January 3rd, 2012. The time was 12:09:04 and 12:47:38, respectively. The photo (centre) was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of fundacionatzaret.org.