Archive

Posts Tagged ‘strawberry tree’

Three discoveries

December 16, 2016 2 comments
An impressive strawberry tree, photo taken with the phone

An impressive strawberry tree

This morning the usual car park I go to in Valtopina was full so I was forced to go to another one.

I was rather glad I did.

The first thing I discovered was a bank of orange marigolds in full bloom.

The second thing was a single purple anemone in flower at the edge of a lawn.

The third thing was strawberry trees laden with fruit, putting ours in the shade.

Advertisements

Strawberries

December 14, 2016 Leave a comment
Strawberry-like fruits

Strawberry-like fruits

Not actually strawberries but the fruits of the strawberry tree, which is not the same thing.

They aren’t especially nice to eat.

But I’m still very glad that our strawberry tree has brought some fruit to full ripeness for the first time.

Strawberry tree flowers

November 19, 2015 2 comments
A raceme of strawberry tree flowers

A cluster of strawberry tree flowers

The weather this last year must have suited our strawberry tree because it’s produced quite a crop of its cascading, bell-shaped flowers.

The ‘strawberries’ would normally be present at the same time, but with no flowers previously, it weren’t possible.

Something to look forward to next year, though!

Monster log

September 15, 2012 Leave a comment

I’m calling it a monster log not so much because of its size, although it’s pretty big, but because of Kepler’s reaction to it.

This morning I heard him barking and barking at something so I went to investigate, and there was a sizeable log lying across our drive.

I guess it must have dislodged itself in the woodland above, perhaps some way up, and crashed down through the undergrowth before reaching its resting place.

No wonder Kepler was startled; he probably thought it was alive. He calmed down when I went up to it and rolled it, with some difficulty, under the strawberry tree so it wouldn’t be in the way of the car.

The log, now tucked under the strawberry tree

Just as I finished, presumably entirely by coincidence, 3 hunters came along the drive, 2 of them dressed in camouflage gear and in a car, and the third on foot. The one on foot told me they plan to hunt hares across our land tomorrow afternoon and could I therefore keep our dogs in.

I pointed Kepler out to him, asking him to please recognise him and be aware of him because it’s not always possible to get him to come in. I’m not sure he paid much attention, but he did say something interesting, which is that our neighbour (the one with the maremmano, Joules’ girlfriend) refuses to co-operate with the request to confine his dogs, saying he has nowhere to put them. Strange. Probably some form of rural politics.

Hazelnuts

July 4, 2012 Leave a comment

2 of the hazelnuts plucked before their time

When I planted our strawberry tree, I tucked it between 2 hazel trees thinking there would be enough room for them all to grow.

I was wrong. The strawberry tree looks very healthy (which wasn’t a foregone conclusion as it’s quite a high altitude for it here) but it has no elbow room at all.

Every so often I cut the flanking hazel trees back a bit to give it some breathing space. The other day, by mistake, I cut off a twig with 5 hazelnuts on it.

I brought the twig back to the house and put it in a vase as a decoration.

I don’t imagine the nuts will ripen like that, but if they did, they’d be the first and probably the last hazelnuts we ever get.

This year’s a good year – there are lots – but I still expect to be pipped to the post by the black squirrels and the mice.

A lemon and 4 strawberry trees

January 19, 2012 1 comment

Valtopina ASL (Health and Health Administration Centre) is open one morning a week – Thursday – so, after phoning to verify they could help, I went down there today to change doctors.

The clerk behind the hatch greeted me with the stony-faced ‘it isn’t my fault’ look of the Italian bureaucrat and announced that the computer wasn’t working.

“But I phoned first!” I protested.

“If you’d got here fifteen minutes ago, it was working then.”

“Is there any chance it might start working again before you close?”

“I just told you,” (I never heard him) “I’m closing now and taking the computer to the technician.”

So that was that. Complete lemon. But there are 4 mature and beautiful strawberry trees just outside the entrance. I spent a few enjoyable minutes taking photos of them.

Strawberry trees outside Valtopina Health Administration Centre

Strawberry tree

January 13, 2012 1 comment

It’s one of my very favourite shrubs, but not because I like the fruits. I don’t.

They have a thick, fuzzy rind, and the small amount of flesh inside is somewhere between tasteless and astringent.

In fact the botanical name for this plant is ‘arbutus unedo’, the second word coming from the Latin ‘unum edo’ which means ‘I eat one’ – that is, one and no more.

Having said that, the fruits are distilled to make spirits in Spain and Portugal, and bears are partial to them.

The reason I like strawberry trees so much is that

  • they are evergreen
  • they frequently have flowers and fruits at the same time
  • the flowers are scented, and delicate-looking but actually robust
  • the fruits can be all the colours of fruit pastilles, all on the same bush
  • the trunk and branches grow in artistic, twisted shapes

    One of the strawberry trees near Gualdo Cattaneo

Near Gualdo Cattaneo (also in Umbria) where we used to live, there were loads of strawberry trees, and  Valtopina itself has some, down in the valley. But I’ve not seen any as high up as we are.

In fact when, 4 years ago,  I planted a young ‘corbezzolo’ (Italian for strawberry tree), I was told it was probably too cold.

Against all odds, it has flourished, although it is still small and doesn’t have many flowers.

I regret planting it where I did because it is sandwiched between 2 hazel trees that I somehow never imagined getting so bushy. But then again, perhaps the sheltered position between those 2 henchmen has helped it to survive.