Rochelle Greayer

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2/08/2011

Turkey Figs, The Evil Eye, Viagra & Spring Planting

Living in a rather snowy and cold zone 5 climate, figs never really crossed my mind as a homegrown option.  Until a couple years ago on a walk, I noticed a fig tree along side the road not far from my house.  I was shocked; it seemed to be growing wild.

figs

image by Rubber Slippers In Italy

I was later introduced to the owner of the home nearest to the tree and I mentioned the fig tree to this new acquaintance….she immediately assured me that it was not in fact a fig tree, she knew exactly which tree I was talking about and certainly, I was wrong. No Figs! – she (slightly) aggressively proclaimed.

Not wanting to seem similarly know-it-all-ish, I resisted persistence.

I figure one of two things is true, 1) she clearly didn’t know that I knew what I was talking about, has some sort of complex, and just wanted to seem smarter-than-thou in our first meeting, or 2) she wanted to throw me off the trail of her secret stash of wild growing figs.  I’m hoping it was the later rather than former, because that is easier for me to understand.

evil eye and fig amulet

Years ago – right before I moved to Massachusetts, my husband, daughter and I left London and we took two months to make our way here.  My daughter was not quite two and we strolled her everywhere.

Along the way we spent roughly a week in Turkey where the strangest thing happened again and again.  People kept pinning little glass and beaded evil eyes on our daughters clothes.  As you can imagine, this was quite disconcerting….strangers in foreign land, without compunction, walking up to a very small child and pinning things to her clothes. No one asked us, or even ever acknowledged that we might care about such a thing.

Had it not been for the consoling of a guide that we hired to take us through some caves in Cappadocia I think we would have high tailed it out of there.  But, he explained, that because she had such clear blue eyes (a complete rarity in the region), people were pinning these glass evil eyes to her partly out of fear, and partly of concern and a desire to protect her.   They superstitiously believe that blue eyed people have a certain power for bestowing curses but because she was clearly an innocent child, her blue eyes somehow also opened her soul up to evil and they needed to protect her.  Thus they pinned evil eyes on her.  So many times this happened, I still occasionally find evil eye pins here and there around our house.

evil eye tree

image from red bubble.

We departed from that trip with an amazing variety of  nuts such as walnuts, pistachios, and almonds and the most incredibly delicious dried figs. Tagged as “Turkish Viagra” many shops in Turkey sold figs stuffed with nuts. I suspect the traditional links between nuts, which are high in Vitamin E, and libido are the source of the claim. Perhaps it also helps that there are centuries of lore making all kinds of aphrodisiac associations with certain fruits and nuts.

fig tree

So, since I can (and really, does a garden designer need a better reason?); and I know this because there is a wild one nearby, I am planting an English Brown Turkey Fig tree this spring.  I want to prune it to be all biblical looking.   And when it is is big enough I want to decorate it with Evil eyes and name it for my daughter.   The only thing I have to work out now, is where to plant it….I want it to come as a surprise when you round a corner in the garden….right now, I don’t really have too many corners in my garden….so I must get back to spring planting planning.

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  1. Renée

    August 6th, 2011 at 10:58 am

    A so very nice article..♥

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