Getting caught in a traffic jam in Beirut’s streets is something we hope won’t happen. We’ve all had our share of these moments feeling like eternity… But we’re not sure if we’re some of the few, or the many, who noticed another aspect of these streets: olive trees. Have you ever tried and spot them while you’re stuck in traffic? There are many of them in the neighborhood, whether on the sidewalks or in private gardens.
We were raised to believe that trees grow in farms, mountains and the like. But the olive tree is one of the rare precious trees that can grow in an urban environment.
We did some research about the olive tree history in Lebanon. We found out that Ashrafieh region, as we know it today, was once a farm where blackberry, fruits, oranges and olive trees rose. The olive trees heritage is no longer preserved there with “Karm al Zaytoun”, the name of a part of this region, being the only reflection left.
However, olive trees started recently to retake roots all over Ashrafieh.
Olive trees aren’t demanding; they need a subtropical climate and they prefer mild winters and long, warm, and dry summers. They also prefer non-stratified, moderately fine textured soils, including sandy loam, loam, silt loam, clay loam and silty clay loam. They‘re shallow-rooted and don’t require very deep soils.
We always knew that the olive tree is a symbol of wisdom, peace and wealth but we never knew why. Zeus, the sky and thunder God in the ancient Greek religion, once decreed that the capital of Greece shall hold the name of the goddess who offers the most useful gift to the people. Athena, the goddess of wisdom, struck the bare soil with her spear and caused an olive tree to spring up.
We often hear news of planting evergreen olive trees in different Lebanese cities in a tribute to figures and in celebration of a variety of events. Real estate developers also preserve olive trees in their projects in Ashrafieh and other regions as one of the perks.
It seems that Ashrafieh is “returning to its origins”…