Plane in Garmen
Species: oriental plane (Platanus orientalis)
Age: 600 years years
Region: Garmen, Blagoevgrad region, Bulgaria
My name is Maria and I study in the town of Gotse Delchev, but my home place is the village of Garmen. Garmen is a small village in south-west Bulgaria, which would have never attracted interest, if it were not for the hot water springs, the ruins of the Roman city of Nicopolis ad Nestum and a venerable old plane nearby. I would tell you about that tree as it provokes interest, not only for its attractive appearance, but also with its multi-century history. The tree is a representative of the Oriental plane (Platanus orientalis) species, which formed dense forests in the valley of Mesta river during the Tertiary. Today it is a relict of the palaeogeography of the region, impressive with its magnificent trunk. It is 24 m high and 10,46 m in girth. It is more than 6 centuries old and in 1961 was pronounced protected due to its age, size and beauty. During its long life the plane has witnessed the joys and sorrows of the people. Wedding and baptism parties took place in its thick shade, people danced at celebrations, where grandfathers and grandmothers selected their future grandsons- and granddaughters-in-law. Until late in the evening the area would resound with the merry din of carefree children playing in the big hollow of the tree. My grandma has told me a legend that goes with the tree. Long time ago a janissary caravan passed through our village having little children taken away from their homes by force. Being thirsty, they stopped for a break in the thick shade of the tree to drink from the cold water. A sign with a warning of the water being poisoned was placed near the well by a courageous local person to chase them away. The janissaries got angry at that and set fire to the tree as they left. The moment they were gone a loud cry echoed through the village – “The plane is on fire!”. It reached every house and raised the whole village. Everybody grabbed a bucket, copper, pitcher and rushed to quench the fire. They saved the tree, though it got a big wound that never healed. Still, today its lofty trunk rises proudly and when a storm starts to rage and thunderbolts to fall, it embraces the village and receives the whole charge of the sky. Spring time, when the storks and other birds of passage come from the south and land on its branches, the plane tree turns into a majestic stage, from where a choir of thousand birds performs. Elderly people often get together under the tree, sit on the benches and discuss the topical subjects of the day; mothers with their mischievous young children, couples in love and a flock of birds are all there. Every morning on my way to school I see the plane as if waves goodbye to me with its huge branches stretching out like arms, and on my way back in the afternoon I see it greeting me cheerfully, happy to see me again. Hey, stranger, if you have the chance to visit my home place, stop by under the plane; breathe in the charming fragrance of the old tree and open your senses to feel our nature!