We were given a demonstration of the art of climbing the stem and the cutting of the date leaves at the crown. Elche is famous for its White Palm: the leaves at the crown are tied up vertically for one year therefore excluding light to make chlorophyll and each tree has a four-year gap before this process, first documented in 1371, is repeated. After the washing and bleaching process, strips are cut and used in the craft of ‘curling’, making varied, traditional and intricate designs which are paraded through the town on Palm Sunday. The Museum is on two floors giving well-documented visual displays and information of the management of the World Heritage site.
Initially, the municipal task was to purchase private and urban palm groves. The intention was also to recover the traditional irrigation and cultivation methods and biological control of pests, to conserve public areas and parks and to promote intensive farming. Workshop courses have been set up to train people in the art of white leaf curling whereby every part of the palm is used in braiding and making different types of rope, baskets and mats.
At the end of this visit we said goodbye to Carol and Alan and thanked them for their invaluable help; a china cat had already been given to them as a thank you to add to their collection.
We were free to get our own lunch and then our luggage was loaded onto the coach and we moved on to Denia, just over an hour’s drive up the coast. Again we were in two hotels, this time side by side looking over the port, El Raset and La Posada del Mar. Before dinner we were given a talk by Joan Birch, chairman of the Costa Blanca Garden Circle, showing us wild flowers that grow in the area: Ophrys speculum (the mirror orchid) and Digitalis obscura stole the show!