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This blog is dedicated to Malta - my island home. My aim is not to bore you with history but to share my thoughts and a few facts together with a photo or two. For a more in -depth background of the island please go here. The purpose of this blog is not to point out the short-comings of the island. There are plenty that do that already. My wish is to show you the beauty of an island at the cross roads of the Mediterranean, a melting pot of history; a place where fact and fiction are sometimes fused to create unique myths and legends; a country that has been conquered so many times that our culture is a mish mesh of the lands that surround us and of lands far away. I confess that my greatest desire is to make you fall in love with this tiny enchanting island.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Lethal Beauty–The Oleander

The heat is intense and summer is reaching its peak.  The ground is parched and the patches of dry earth seem like miniature deserts surrounding our towns and villages. On the horizon, the blue ribbon that is the sea meets the expanse of the sky in a hazy embrace. It seems like colour has taken flight to cooler climes. Yet amidst all the dreariness, the oleanders bloom in pretty hues. Like confetti at a summer wedding their flowers are plentiful and alleviate the monotony of brown caked earth.

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One of my favourite ‘oleander walks’ is across this bridge that used to be the only link between the towns of Rabat and Mtarfa. Oleander bushes are planted on both sides of the bridge and, from June to September, when crossing this bridge at certain times of the day it feels as if the air is suffused with a magical, pink light. Although oleander blooms come in a variety of colours (including red) the predominant colours, both on this bridge and along various roads all over the island, are dark and light pink and white.

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Oleander plants are very hardy and can withstand long periods of drought (hence they are perfect for our long, dry summers). Being perennials, the bushes grow bigger every year and in many cases they are trimmed down to prevent them from over-growing. The flowers are very pretty, the leaves long and of a vibrant dark green shade.  Yet this beautiful plant is known to be highly toxic. In fact one of its leaves can be lethal if ingested by a child or small animal. Thankfully I have never heard of anyone who had the not-so-bright idea to eat the leaves. However, I do remember that, as young kids, one of our favourite pastimes was to cut off a few oleander leaves, mash them up,add a variety of other wild plants together with some soil and water to make ‘cakes’. It’s a good thing that the disgusting appearance of our early attempts at baking put us off from trying to take a nibble or I might not be here today to write this story.

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Here’s hoping that your summers are not too harsh and that pretty blooms cheer you along your way.

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15 comments:

  1. 'It seems like colour has taken flight to cooler climes.'

    This makes me think about the way the sun bleaches all variation from the landscape in my hometown. The midday light makes everything appear white in the dead of summer.

    Thank you for this, Loree.

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  2. Those blossoms are especially beautiful when they are one of the only things is bloom - glory days.

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  3. This has been a treat. We have the oleander in Jamaica too, but I mostly see the ones with red or white blooms.

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  4. I cannot ever recall having seen such a fantastic row of them. Mine is small... :-) Tiny even!!! Lovely.

    I could send you rain...

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  5. i may be mistaken but i don't think we have oleanders here in the Philippines.

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  6. Such beautiful blooms! It's been terribly hot, as you're familiar with St Louis weather... my car thermomter read a sweltering 108 degrees yesterday!

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  7. it must be beautiful to be walking surrounded by oleanders. our summer is also at its peak and it's very oppressive at times due to humidity. i've rarely been outside because the heat can be unbearable. i am ready for fall.

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  8. thanks for that beautiful trip and greetings from Spain,
    elena

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  9. Oleanders bloom profusely here in bright sun. We have white ones in full bloom right now as they thrive when other shrubs and trees blanche with the heat. Lovely shots, mon amie!

    Bises,
    Genie

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  10. Wishing you a lovely weekend, Loree.
    xoxo, B

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  11. Beautiful!
    It's funny though because I just took some photos of oleanders at my parents house in Ojai (which gets quite hot in the summer and can freeze in the winter) and I was showing my friend the pictures to which he only responded, "there poisonous!!!!"
    I said, "but aren't they pretty???"
    They are.

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  12. I had no idea. But they are lovely!
    Have a great time in the us! Can't wait to read about your adventures!
    Big hugs loree!

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  13. Estupendas todas las fotos que nos has dejado.

    Saludos y un abrazo.

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  14. these images are absolutely beautiful!! thank you for stopping by my blog, these just made me really happy to look at!!

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  15. I love them in this way! Wonderful colours!!! Hugs from Luzia.

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