How did the idea of writing the book about the Palmeral come about?
Since I was a child I have had a passion for palm trees. He lived in the Carmen neighborhood, very close to the Cura and San Plácido gardens. I went with my parents and my brothers to play. I had an uncle with a lot of knowledge about botany who taught me the secrets of palm trees and put passion in my body. Then I lived 30 years in Granada for my work and, every time I returned to Elche, I visited orchards. With retirement I have visited more orchards, I have expanded the visits to the districts and I have compiled material until the book was published.
What have you learned while observing the palm trees?
I have known better what we have. Even for a passionate child like me, there are still aspects that are unknown. I have learned from maintenance and I have seen deaths, not only from the weevil, but also from neglect and neglect. It is expensive to maintain the Palmeral for the low profitability it offers. There are places that are very well cared for and others, not so much. The best thing is that we have something unique in the world, with great botanical monuments.
The declaration of Patrimony of the Humanity, has served of help for a better conservation of the Palm grove?
Yes, in the sense that it has allowed more subsidies to come in from outside. Thanks to this, for example, it has been possible to improve the Hort del Monjo, in the Filet de Fora area. But the extension of the Palmeral is enormous and requires more improvements and work. The population should make more use of the orchards, not just use them for walks.
Are there many areas that require further conservation?
There is everything. Recognizing that there are poorly preserved areas does not reveal anything new. I repeat that high maintenance costs and low profitability complicate the situation. Despite the fact that more subsidies have arrived with the declaration as Heritage, from the official point of view, more aid has to be obtained. Not only for the urban gardens that are owned by the City Council. Also for those who are of private owners in the districts. There are less than a hundred people who dedicate themselves exclusively to the maintenance of the Palm Grove, which makes it unfeasible. There are problems with pruning, cleaning palm trees, irrigation … We are talking about more than two million square meters.
The Hort de la Cuerna is one of those that respects tradition the most and that of San Plácido is one of the best preserved »
What areas of the Palmeral would you recommend discovering?
It is difficult to stay with only one zone. In Matola there are interesting palm trees, as in La Hoya or Valverde. It depends on what one is looking for. There are orchards that are more similar to the traditional ones, such as Hort de la Cuerna, which has vegetable plantations and squared terraces in the center. It is very difficult to stay with a single place in the entire municipality of Elche. One of the best preserved is that of San Plácido.
Before you said that you spent 30 years in Granada for your professional career, is the Palmeral worse or better than before your departure?
Generally speaking, it is better. I am a critical person and I know that maintenance is not easy. It can continue to improve, especially with the number of orchards that could be enabled so that people could see them. There are many central areas that can be converted: the Hort del Real, the Martí Castany, the Traffic Park, the Camino del Pantano, the Hort de Malena …
There are many central areas that should be enabled for the walk: the Hort del Real, the Malena, the Martí Castany … »
What is your favorite palm tree?
The Imperial Palm is considered the queen and for me the king is one that is in Valverde, in a private garden. It is the largest there is, with 23 hijuelos. The smallest will be two or three meters. It is a beautiful palm tree and is in a wonderful state of conservation. I have christened it the 23-armed Regia. Another that can be highlighted is on the La Marina road, at kilometer 7. It looks like a Jewish chandelier. It is divided at seven or eight meters into two suckers and then it is divided again.
Beyond your book, during the three decades you have been abroad, how have you seen the changes that Elche has undergone?
When I left there was no ring road either north or south. During this time, bridges such as those of the Generalitat and the Bimil·lenari have also been built. For a city like this, which is divided by the river and the train tracks, it is very important to have bridges and walkways. Elche Parque Empresarial and Polígono de Carrús have contributed a lot from an industrial point of view. When I left, we only had three institutes and, in this sense, it has not stopped growing, as in the fact of having three universities today.
My favorite palm trees are one from Valverde, which has 23 youngsters; and a Jewish chandelier, on the road to La Marina »
Your professional life has been linked to university education and physical and sporting activity. How have you seen Elche’s growth in this field?
Elche has improved a lot in the sports field. When I left for Granada we had no covered pavilion. Just built the one from Los Palmerales, which has been abandoned and remains the same. Now we have quite a few covered pavilions, such as Esperanza Lag, El Toscar or those of the districts. And there are also those in private centers, such as the Salesianos. In total there will be about fifteen.
And as for the teams, what aspects would you highlight?
The rise of women’s sports. At that time it was very limited. There were no clubs promoting women. Now we have great teams in football and handball, among other sports. There are also more and more modalities, such as futsal or beach handball.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.