As the first flower of the year, the blossom is the Awakener, a welcome to new life.
When Northern Europe is in the grip of winter and it seems darker there than is good for the soul, we as lovers of the quiet Mallorca find our island as its most beautiful – so lush and green and bathed in (relatively) long hours of sunshine.
We've hardly had time to say farewell to the old year when the first of the almond blossoms appear. It was January 3rd when I spotted the first flowers in one of the gardens along the road – whereas in my own garden some of the trees haven't even shed their foliage yet! Oh, gardener's envy …
Don't worry if you're not (yet) here though: It will still take a few weeks for all the trees (including mine) to be in full blossom, faithfully veiling Mallorca, as it does every year, in its lacy bridal dress.
The Best Time #
It was the warm days we had over the holidays with temperatures reaching up to 22°C / 71.5°F that drove the early blossoms out. They offered exactly the right conditions for the buds of our famous almond trees to open. The main show with (they say) over four million almond trees on the island in full glory is expected between the end of January and the end of February. It all depends on the type of tree planted and its location, too. Those higher up in the Tramuntana mountains, the blossom usually starts later in the year.
Also, the weather plays a major role. It has happened that after an extremely cold January and early February we didn't see any of it until the beginning of March. However, to think almond trees didn't like the cold is not true either: botanists claim they even need 400 hours of cold each winter to thrive. However, a spell of frost during the blossom or strong winds blowing the blossoms away will ruin the harvest.
The good news for blossom spotters: The almond blossom lasts several months, so there is plenty of time not to miss out on it. If you want to fly in for the show, best book in mid-February.
History and Tradition #
It was the Arabs who introduced the almond tree to Mallorca in the 10th century, and it has been farmed on the island ever since. Many almond-based recipes from Turrón to Gató d'Almendra and Almond Ice Cream found their way into the traditional cuisine and owe their delicious, full-body flavor to Mallorcan almonds.
The large-scale cultivation of almond trees dates back to the 19th century when the phylloxera virus hit Mallorca's vineyards, wiping out most of the wine industry here. It was a matter of survival for Mallorcan farmers to go looking for less fragile alternatives. Their choice of the almond tree has shaped the island's landscape ever since, and Mallorca is now one of the biggest centres of commercial almond production worldwide.
After a drop in world market had pushed many Mallorcan farmers to the point of abandoning their orchards, years of devastating droughts in California killed thousands of trees there, creating new market opportunities for Mallorca's smaller, more aromatic local varieties.
However, there is worrying news: In recent years, Xylella fastidiosa, a deadly bacterial disease spread by the spittlebug, that currently has no cure, is slowly decimating almond, olive and other fruit trees and grape vines all over Europe, and it has reached the island. Read more about it and what is being done to fight it>>
Where It's Most Beautiful #
Photo aficionados, get your cameras ready. Whether it's with an almond grove and a spectacular backdrop of the Tramuntana Mountains, a solitary old gnarled tree in an overgrown garden or a single branch with just a few pinkish-white flowers to show – it doesn't get any more beautiful than that. The best routes for you on almond photo safari are in the southwest of the island in the Andratx and Port d'Andratx area including its neighbouring villages. Or head up to Valldemossa and Soller, to Llucmajor or, if you are in the southeast, to the area between Santanyi and Felanitx. Choose any small country road and you'll find yourself immersed in a sea of fragrant pinks and whites.
The Affordable Mallorca Photo Contest #
Whether it's a whole valley shrouded in a bride's veil of pink and white, an individual tree, a branch or just a single blossom that catches your eye, Affordable Mallorca invites you to contribute your personal snaps of the season.
Please don’t forget to tell us your full name and where the photos are taken so we can make sure to credit you on the site. Send your favourite landscape / horizontal photos. The best photos will be chosen by a panel and the winner will be treated to a delicious meal out at The Boat House Restaurant in Palma. Good luck and see you there!
Contest Rules #
Please note that by submitting you have agreed to give consent to use all photos at the discretion of the editorial staff of Affordable Mallorca. If used at a later date, they will be properly attributed to the person who photographed them.
- Please send your best shots to [email protected].
- Give us your name and the name of the location where your photo was taken.
- Horizontal/landscape photos only will be considered.
- Members of the Affordable Mallorca staff are excluded from this contest.
- All photos must be the sole property of the person submitting. By submitting, you agree to allow Affordable Mallorca to post your photos at their discretion.
- Latest submissions February 16th, 2020.
- Winner will be announced on February 21st, 2020.
Large blossom branches like this against a blue sky were one of Van Gogh’s favourite subjects. - Van Gogh Museum
The Prize #
The Boat House, Estación Marítima de las Golondrinas, Avenida Gabriel Roca, 07014 Palma / +34 971 73 41 14
Thank you for your contributions!
The Boat House
By Ulla Rahn-Huber
28 January, 2020