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Monday, January 24, 2022

The resurrection of Nazareth: the Güímar dragon tree sprouts in the Buen Retiro

The drago of the Colegio Nazaret in Güímar

Back in July last year, it was announced that Tenerife had lost one of its most emblematic dragon trees (Dracaena draco), located in the patio of the Colegio Nazaret (today Colegio Santo Domingo) in Güímar. Said to be the third oldest, at around 150 years old, it had already been reported that it was sick and the prognosis in August was that it could not be transplanted due to biological problems and the damage caused by its collapse. 

However, it's being kept alive together with a "brother" in the 18th century mansion; the botanist who saved the Hermano Pedro tree has taken on its conservation.

"We can't celebrate yet, because it still hasn't taken well, but green shoots can be seen," says Mario Díaz, owner of the spectacular Buen Retiro, a mansion in Chacaica, Güímar, which was the residence of the family of Delgado-Trinidad, marquises of La Florida in the 18th century, referring to the centenary dragon tree (more than 130 years old) that he transplanted in August on his land after having collapsed in the courtyard of the Nazaret school (today Santo Domingo) just a hundred meters away. Although he remarks that he is not a Catholic, he does not mind that there is talk of a resurrection: a botanical resurrection.

It must be remembered that technicians from the Cabildo de Tenerife considered it impossible to recover the drago on August 19, a month after the collapse it suffered in the schoolyard. They explained that it could no longer be saved due to biological problems and the damage caused by the fall in July, according to the island councillor for Natural Environment Management and Security, Isabel García. So it was hopeless. It destiny was to dry up, which is the death of vegetation. The report compiled by the Cabildo stated that "transplanting a dragon tree with its root ball in good physiological condition is not the same as replanting a fallen dragon tree with serious pathologies and in an unfortunate state of conservation." “Even the possible rooting of its arms is also very limited, given that the branches lack aerial roots, the experts added in that opinion.

However, a week later, at the end of August, Mario Díaz received the donation by the nuns and placed it, thanks to a huge crane, near the main garden of the former Buen Retiro hotel, now converted into a music museum. Precisely with violin music, Mario received the dragon tree from Nazareth, convinced that music would make it grow. 

And even if it hasn't grown, at least it hasn't died.

"I don't want to get into controversy with the technicians of the Cabildo, I just tried to make an effort to save the drago and for now it has been worth the effort, although it is still early, because although it is seen that it has begun to sprout, it is still the same it is not well rooted," says Mario Díaz cautiously, who recounts that "at first I watered it, but I remembered that a botanist advised me not to." In addition, the co-owner of the Buen Retiro, together with his sister Elsa, -his family acquired it three decades ago from the nephews of the Marchioness of Florida- has taken care to receive advice from prominent botanists, such as Miguel Torres, who just two years ago saved the well-known tree (esquisúchil) that Brother Pedro planted in 1657 during his stay in Guatemala, in addition to contracting the company Biogarden for the maintenance of this Dracaena Draco whose seed is the same as specimens such as that Mario Díaz already had in his mansion: "They are contemporaries, it could be said that they were brothers," he highlights, recalling that his was planted by the Marchioness of La Florida before she died, without issue, in 1927.

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