Pomegranate flower. "...se diria manos de hermosas
mujeres como estatuas teñidas con hené, o dedos de palomas gris ceniza,
o cajas que se han abierto para dejar ver túnicas centelleantes en su centro".
+ info, file and pictures
"La rosa muestra túnicas rojas, cuyo manto esta calado"
Red berries and seeds The pomegranate is the symbol of a kingdom and one of the plant species with a Syrian origin which has become fully Iberian.
In the beautiful gardens in Al-Rusafa, near Valencia, there were pomegranate trees which had been sent from Syria by the Abderraman’s sister. A courtier in Medina Azahara, called Safar, planted seeds from those pomegranates in his orchard in Malaga, and when they grew he sent one to Abderraman. “The Emir admired his discovery… That species of pomegranate spread across the area and people began planting them in their orchards”, according to the chronicles.
The poet Sad al-Jayr, writing about a ripe pomegranate, says: “It opens its mouth like a lion in order to show its teeth dyed in blood”
A purple mantle Roses are another flower coming from the East, at least the ornamental and cultivated varieties. There are also several varieties of the Rosaceae family which are part of the indigenous Iberian flora. For the inhabitants of al-Andalus, roses were the essence of their gardens where purple and white colours were predominant. In the tenth century, they brought the art of distilling rose petals, and in April they prepared perfumes, they extracted oils and made preserves from the roses. The Andalucian literature of the time describes the rose as a flower which “shows a red tunic whose mantle is soaked”
Sensuality They are a symbol of sensuality and summer nights. Jasmines have filled the gardens in Andalusia since the time the Arabs conquered the ancient Roman territories and started prizing them. It is a plant Andalucian poets describe in a very delicate, special way when they depict a pergola covered with jasmine: “It is a sky in which there are little white and silver shields and small lances…: they are silver stars”.
"Alas de mariposa teñidas con moras del jardin".
Violets also win the prize when it comes to sensual connotations. It was an already existing species to be found in woods and shady areas in fields and pathways, but Arab gardeners were the ones to turn them into the “flowers of love”.
In some texts, poets compare them to the “traces of a bite on the cheek or on the breast of your beloved one”. Violets are cultivated by the hundreds in the gardens of Granada. Andalucian poets reveal great interest with the Viola odorata violet. They describe it as “butterfly wings dyed in garden blackberries”
"Los narcisos son ramas de esmeralda que producen hojas de plata y para los que el oro
acendrado es flor"
"El amante y la amante se reunen en su color blanco y amarillo; lleno de compasion para los enamorados, se apresura a florecer en medio de las flores".
The most poetical flower, the one Anadalucian writers compared to lovers, was the hyathinth, Narcissus tazetta. Hyathinths are the first flowers to grow after winter, and they can even grow during that season if temperatures are not too cold. Merging several colours in one branch –as it happens with some species of narcissus- inspires writers, at least Andalucian writers from past centuries. “Lovers merge in their white and yellow colours” + info, file and pictures
"Son ojos de oro puro e párpados de perlas en una rama de esmeralda verde"
White goblets. Madonna lilies are “pure gold eyes and pearl eyelashes on a green emerald branch”. The white of the bell-like flower of the Lilium candidum, drew the attention of the Arab gardeners and they took care of this species which has reached our times being one of the most prized flowers in the ornamentation of gardens, as well as in homes and special events. The Madonna lily has its similarity with the coastal species, Pancratium maririmum, or Sea daffodil which grows on beaches and dunes in Western Andalusia: Motril, Adra and el Ejido.
"Son botellas de cristal, se diria una copa de perla, en cuyo centro se hubiera fijado artisticamente un engaste de jade".
In ponds we can find water lilies. It is a wild plant, coming from wetlands and lagoon areas which can be found all around Andalusia. Arabs extracted it from their ecosystem in order to embellish their ponds, as they covered the surface with their huge, green leaves on which the big, white flowers grew. They are home to a great variety of vertebrates, such as frogs and other amphibians, as well as invertebrates, fresh water molluscs, insect larvae and aquatic organisms. Arab poets said they were: “glass bottles… a goblet made of pearls inside which a jade had been artistically mounted in the centre”.
"La nube ha revestido al mirto de galas verdosas que tienen botones de azmicle y de alcanfor"...
"Su fragancia, al difundirse serena y alegra el animo, lo que puede hacer creer que ha sido cortada en el Paraíso".
The myrtle is one of the species which is always associated with Andalucian, Arab culture. It is also a wild species introduced, and later “naturalized”, by the Arabs. They converted it into a symbol of their gardens. At present, most hedgerows in Granada are formed by myrtles, such as the ones to be found surrounding the Alhambra and the ones surrounding the pond in the Court of the Myrtles, which bears the name of the plant. The liking for this white flower species is shown in the texts of the poets of al-Andalus: “La nube ha revestido el mirto de galas verdosas que tienen botones de almizcle y de alcanfor. Su fragancia, al difundirse, serena y alegra el ánimo, lo que puede hacer creer que ha sido cortada en el Paraíso” (The cloud has sheathed the myrtle in green finery, full of buttons of musk and camphor. Its fragrance when disseminating the scent soothes and elates the spirit, which may well mean it was collected in Paradise)
"Se diria un lunar en la mejilla de una mujer blanca de piel fina"
The flower of the broad bean, Vicia faba, -a plant coming from Asia, brought to Andalusia by the Arabs- can be considered one of the most humble flowers but it competes in beauty with the majority of the most appreciated ornamental species. It was used both as an ornamental plant and for agricultural purposes. Its flower is white with bluish marks and purple stripes. Andalucian writers of the time did not ignore it when they wrote: “One would think it is a beauty mark on the cheek of a white woman with a fine skin”.
Poets mainly look at the contrast of colors between white and yellow.
"Lingotes de oro en cajas de ungüentos de plata"
o "perlas colocadas alrededor de jacintos amarillos".
"El retiene su aliento durante el día y lo esparce por la noche"
"Ha desechado con repugnancia el traje blanco, color de su hermano,
para vestirse con un manto azul cuyo destello parece tomado de la boveda celeste;
si el pavo real se lo pusiera, seria felicitado como un rey por las otras aves". + info, file and pictures
There are blue irises as well as white irises. Some are wild species, others are cultivated. As with other species, Arab gardeners in al-Andalus prized some varieties which have been maintained through the centuries. Some of them have even become present-day favourites in our gardens, parks and flower-beds. Blue irises, Iris germanica, were really cherished in the palaces. Amongst poets and botanists there was a curious dispute about the blue colour: “It has rejected with repugnance the white dress -its brother’s colour-, in order to put on a blue cloak whose sparkle seems to have been taken from the canopy of heaven. If the peacock wore it, he would be congratulated like a king by the rest of birds”