There are no certain skills required to fall in love with a chestnut tree; she is audacious, classy, and casual at the same time, passively aggressive to enemies, and courageous, at the same time. She is a living miracle.
As you are packing for your winter travel, space, weight and time are to be considered, but not when you are about to enter the chestnut forest of Milia, where space and time vanish. As it happens in every romance, that is worth being named as such.
So if you’re spending your winter vacation around the area of western Crete, get ready for the perfect winter love affair, that follows the hiking and sightseeing parts of your trip; the chestnut tree is your other half.
The common chestnut (Castanea sativa) of the northern hemisphere, is widespread in the mountainous areas of western Crete, and gives edible fruits, a product that has long been a source of income to the locals -and to the inhabitants of Milia, as well, since the 16th century. It is a large tree with long leaves, which can reach a height of 30 m, although the average ranges from 12 to 15 m.
What is poetic about her, is the fact that the “male” and “female” flowers are formed on the same plant, but separately, awaiting the proper touch of Nature in order to come together. Sounds like a fairytale, extracted from some previous centuries’ romantic literary genre? That and more, the “male” parts are united in upright florets and appear in July, whereas the “female” ones are born united in groups, at the ends of the branches, inside a spiny sheath. And, at some unexpected moment in late September and early October, we just eat her autumn fruits!
Of the fruit-bearing varieties of this species, the most important are the “Chestnuts of Pelion” (in Central Greece) and the “Chestnuts of Crete”. The climate should be temperate and humid. It withstands the winter cold but needs a warm and sunny location to grow well, bloom, and complete the ripening of its fruits. It is pleasant to be thinking of the chestnut tree as your romantic relationship. You’ll typically need three layers to protect yourself from a winter cold or a bad romance; one to wick, one to insulate, and one to protect. But the chestnut tree is not of the kind. She is tender and comprehensive in her attitude, needs care, however. Are you willing to jeopardize your strong character and your attitude? She, too, has a shelter of spines. Take a lesson out of this relationship, no one is to be hurt if taken care of with respect and…slowly.