In troubled times, some tree appreciation

At a time when the world is focused upon climate change, and during the month our trees hang with their annual bounty of fruits and nuts, we felt inspired to write a blog in appreciation of trees. And in fact, since starting to write this article, we happened to catch an episode of the BBC’s current series of Japan with Sue Perkins during which Sue experienced tree bathing (shinrin-yoku), which is believed to be a critical factor in the fight against diseases of the body and mind. Further googling reveals that the RSPB is running forest bathing experiences in Wales, the Guardian has written two articles on the same subject this year, and the Duchess of Cambridge’s garden at the Chelsea Flower Show was also inspired by shinrin-yoku. It seems like everyone’s talking about trees.

Trees don’t only provide health benefits by converting carbon dioxide from our atmosphere into life-giving oxygen. Their canopy provides shade that cools us and our homes and prevents up to 90% of the sun’s radiation from being absorbed into the ground beneath them. Studies conducted in Japan, the US, and Canada have demonstrated a link between trees and reduced instances of cardiovascular and respiratory illnesses as well as stroke and diabetes. There are psychological benefits too. Research suggests that even looking at an image of a tree can induce feelings of calm and have positive effects on mood, self-esteem, stress, and depression. So take a break from your screen and look out of the window or go for a walk, and truly admire the trees around you. Or to thoroughly immerse yourself, book a stay at our luxury villa rental in Ronda and relax in our secluded country home, surrounded by sunshine and trees.

Do you feel calmer now?

“I think that I shall never see

A poem lovely as a tree”

Joyce Kilmer - 1886-1918

At La Cazalla de Ronda, we are surrounded by a forest of oak trees that blanket the slopes of the valley where our country house is situated. As you enter the property, the beautiful oak trees lining the driveway envelop you in their welcoming shade, removing the heat acquired during your drive through sunshine-soaked Andalucia. Peacefulness falls upon you like a familiar, well-loved comforter. Breathe out. Relax.

Most of these glorious oak trees are evergreen, so summer or winter, your eyes and mind can drink in their lushness. In addition to the above-mentioned health benefits associated with trees, the colour green itself is felt to be restful, soothing, cheerful, and health-giving. Interestingly, researchers have found that green can improve reading ability, suggesting that laying a transparent sheet of green paper over reading material increases reading speed and comprehension. Exchange the transparent sheet of green paper for sunlight filtered through real leaves, and you have a good reason to drag your eyes away from the screen and grab one of the hundreds of books in our library to savour on a sunlounger in the shade of a tree. Green is also thought to relieve stress and help heal, and those who have a green work environment experience fewer stomachaches. No stomachaches here at La Cazalla then.

Continuing down the lavender-lined driveway at La Cazalla private villa rental brings you into our open meadow areas where the majority of our olive trees are located. We have around 50 olive trees in varying stages of maturity, and you can read about our harvests and delicious extra-virgin olive oil in other blog articles here. Every group of guests receives a complimentary bottle of olive oil, along with fresh fruit and vegetables, and chutneys and jams made from them. We love sharing everything the fertile land of our home has to offer with visitors, and if you would like to take a bottle of oil home with you, we will be delighted to sell you additional, securely-corked supplies.

“Tree, tree

dry and green.

The girl with the pretty face

is picking out olives.

The wind, playboy of towers,

grabs her around the waist.

Four riders passed by…

The girl with the pretty face

keeps on picking olives

with the grey arm of the wind

wrapped around her waist.”

Extract translated from Arbolé, Arbolé... by Federico García Lorca - 1898-1936

Scattered amongst the olive trees are almond trees, and if you visit during late January, February, or early March, you will be treated to a stunning display of pink-and-white blossom. Combined with the lush, post-winter green of the countryside in Andalucia, it’s a truly uplifting sight for the soul. Take a seat in the magical threshing circle and breathe in the scent, or wander the blossom-lined path between the ancient circle and the house feeling each of your worries slide away with every step.

During winter, spring, and early summer, the threshing circle (a circular, cobbled area designed for separating wheat grains from the inedible chaff) is the perfect spot from which to appreciate the peacefully-green southern end of the valley. Many of our guests have commented upon the magical feel of this ancient ring of stones.

luxury_villa_rental_ronda_la_cazalla_de_ronda

Some of the trees that can be seen on the right-hand side of the picture above are birch trees. Lovers of water, they grow beside the path to the Roman alberca (a water collection pool), surrounding it and our private swimming pool. It’s heavenly to lie beneath these trees, looking up at the fluttering yellow-green leaves that sparkle in the sunshine and hearing them rustle excitedly in the breeze. The more scientific explanation is that your parasympathetic nervous system is being stimulated, activating the rest-and-digest response: blood pressure eases, pulse rate slows, breathing becomes calm, digestive juices flow, the intestines resume their motility, and the skeletal muscles loosen up. What better excuse do you need to request we make up the four-poster bed down by the alberca, so that you may repair there after dinner, and rest and digest whilst sleeping beneath the starlit trees?

Descending further still, discover the newly-planted purple Jacaranda, the yellow mimosa bordering the path to the front door, and the pomegranate, apricot, lemon, cherry, quince, and clementine trees. And finally, take a seat in the orchard beside the stream, surrounded by persimmon, fig, and walnut trees, and gaze at the oaks on the other side.

In summary, trees let us breathe, bring us health, sustenance, peace, and joy, and help us to relax. So let’s hear it for the trees! Those peaceful eco-warriors, those givers of life, those calming, cooling, soothing, placid plants.