HALFETI: He could be called Moses. Halfeti’s black rose, rescued from the waters of the Birecik dam on the Euphrates, survives the heights of this submerged village in southeastern Turkey – and in ice cream.
Black in bud, black when dry, deep purple in between, Karagül (black rose, in Turkish) with its wonderful and strong aroma is the one and only grows here.
Also quirky but much simpler, with no handle or fragrance, ruffled that barely hatches, Halfeti’s green rose, which looks more like a weed, is almost the subject of the same attention.
They almost disappeared, sinking forever like dozens of ancient Mesopotamian archaeological sites. But the spirit of an official from the local Department of Agriculture who transplanted them under a greenhouse, a few dozen meters above the submerged village, gave them a destiny.
While their memories, their memories, and the ancestral graves sink, Karagül only evokes indifference among the villagers, remembering his manager, a man in his forties who was forced to remain anonymous by his hierarchy.
“People here don’t realize how unique it is. We haul about forty feet to altitude and maintain production in a greenhouse,” he points out, brushing aside the smoldering plastic scraps of his treasure. stems are weak, darker red than black in late May.
In the park
His friend Bülent by his side remembers: “They were everywhere in the garden, but no one paid attention to them”.
The Birecik Dam, commissioned in 2000 as part of a major construction project in southeastern Anatolia, submerged Halfeti and a dozen surrounding villages.
Twenty minutes by boat, only the pencil-pointed minaret of the Savasan mosque, a deserted village, still emerges.
Acclimatized to the heights of the new village of Halfeti, the greenhouse now has a thousand roses.
“Karagül grows lighter than under,” warns Professor Ali Ikinci, a botanist at Harran University, near Sanliurfa.
“Karagül is not a species endemic to Halfeti,” he explains. “But certain ecology, climate and soil, cause it to bloom darker there. If you plant a rose elsewhere, it won’t turn dark or black.”
He further determined that “twenty genotypes of black roses have been identified worldwide, including sixteen in Turkey”.
But, he insists, Halfeti is “unique”.
“When you go from Sanliurfa to Syria (60 km to the south, editor’s note) the color darkens, tends towards black and the aroma intensifies”.
A phenomenon due, according to agronomic savior Karagül, at the “4 to 5 degree difference” between the lake shore and the new village: “at the bottom, the soil is also more acidic due to the waters of the Euphrates”.
For Professor Ikinci who cites the excellence of the Turkish rose bush, botanist Turhan Baytop, who died in 2002, Karagül comes from the rose “Louis XIV”, created in France in 1859.
For Frédéric Achille, deputy director of the Botanical Gardens of the Natural History Museum in Paris, “it could be the original +Louis XIV+, transformed by the waters of the Euphrates … and a little communication”, have fun.
As for Halfeti’s green roses, which are nurtured along the Karagül greenhouse and which look like weeds, they are very real, but have nothing to do with the Instagramer’s retouched photos.
“It remains mysterious. Some residents have it in their gardens. But, it doesn’t smell, it doesn’t attract much attention”, said Professor Ikinci.
“Because he’s so ugly”, interrupted Frédéric Achille. Introduced in Europe in 1856 by a British nursery, “it’s just curiosity in the rose garden”.
But Halfeti intends to make the most of her real treasure: by the lake, some amateur gardeners offer tourists Karagül roses.
At 28, Devrim Tutus sees bigger: associated with an Istanbul company, he supplies flower petals for cologne, a Turkish delicacy and Karagül ice cream, the demand for which already exceeds its production capacity. Waiting for rose wine.
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