Thursday, October 23, 2008

Plants I dream of growing

Living in the Caribbean has its challenges when trying to grow plants that we have fallen in love with from North America and Europe. Some of us who live on higher elevations have had some successes, like the farmers who grow beautiful strawberries for export in the Blue Mountains of Jamaica. I have struggled with them from time to time. I had gone to pick them with my mother in law in Miami when visiting and was left in a state of excitement. I occasionally buy them here at the supermarket for around US$6.00 a punnet. I make a strawberry banana ice cream that is delish or make those fancy fresh fruit tarts.

Years ago, I bought a few plants from someone who brought them in from the USA. I started off with about three plants that grew into a bed full and they were multiplying like crazy. I hired a man to help weed the garden beds. When I returned from doing something in the house my whole bed of plants were uprooted. I almost was my fault. He didn't know what they were and assumed they were weeds . Well I tried to salvage some of the plants and replanted the bed. Things were never the same. I recently bought some imported Gaura plants from a nursery and noticed a familiar plant growing in the same pot. First I thought that it was a weed but decided to leave it to get bigger. I suspected it was a strawberry plant and was convinced when it started to throw the shoots out. Well I was the proudest mother of a strawberry plant! I transplanted it into a larger pot and it has been throwing babies all over. I now have a pot full of young plants that are ready to be transplanted. I am wondering whether I should put them in a bed or large containers. I went to look for them today to transplant and they looked rather poorly due to the shady spot I had them in and the huge amount of rain we have had lately. I do hope they recover.

Another plant I am dreaming of growing are Proteas. These are native to South Africa and have the most beautiful flowers I have seen. I have some Agapanthus I bought a few months ago. I
have them in planters and am patiently waiting for blooms.

I just love Amaryllis and there are some varieties to die for. I have a some white and a few red ones scattered across garden.

all green with no blooms

I first saw day lilies at Epcot center in Orlando and I fell in love with them. I then ordered some from Florida many moons ago. They bloomed soon after I had planted them then stopped for a few years. I then transplanted then to what I thought was a better location in the garden. They still hadn't bloomed. I then transplanted them to the back garden where they will only get morning sun. Well I have had one plant blooming every year while the others just remain very green and healthy. I have begged them, bribed them, and cussed them to bloom with no avail. So I decided to ignore them as if they do not exist hoping one day I will accidentally run into them when blooming.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Garden necessities

these shoes rock

I am a serious gardener and I believe that in order to garden one must have the proper tools including footwear. I was tired of buying shoes for the garden and those cheap crocs that give you no support whatsoever. They do not protect your feet from thorns, splinters and mud yuk! I was tired of getting into the shower and having to always dig the dirt from under my short toenails. Mind you I always pass the nail brush over the toes but sometimes I can see that the dirt is not only over but under. I found that my feet ached at night and a friend of mine told me the same. We wondered if was because of the crocs or our age. I will not discuss age here so don't ask!! I had ordered some garden clogs online at a ridiculous price since my feet are small ( size 5 and sometimes 6) and as soon as they arrived I slipped them on. Well my feet thought that they had died and gone to heaven. These were so comfortable, my feet stayed dry, the soles were thick and gave support. No more aching feet at night!! So it wasn't an age thing folks!! I am a bargain online shopper and have bought many many things online. This includes, garden tools, carpentry tools, clothing, furniture, shoes, garden supplies and pond supplies including liners. I have compiled an assortment of garden shoes, garden stuff that many of us miss while surfing cause we are very busy looking at other things.

Garden Junction

Thursday, October 16, 2008

study in green and white

After the rains, everything looks so fresh and crisp, these variegated plants seem to grab your attention at first glance.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Lunch time

After working hard cutting the lawns at the back of the house and around the ponds( where the drive mower can't go) with the push mower, I took a break for lunch. I was salivating for one of my salads. I went scrounging around the Julie mango tree ( mango season has gone) I came across one and hurried to the kitchen to prepare my salad. I had a ripe papaya from a nearby tree on the roadside that the birds had planted just for me since no one else lives nearby.

Wicked Bajan Avocado Mango Papaya Thai salad

You will need

1 small head of lettuce or some leaves
3 slices of avocado
1 firm slice of ripe Papaya
I firm slice of a ripe mango
alfalfa sprouts
cooked shrimps /lobster or crab or grilled chicken strips to garnish
Zesty citron dressing

Wash and dry the lettuce, break up in medium size pieces in a bowl or large plate. Peel the avocado and cut in chunks onto the bed of lettuce. Cube the slice of mango and scatter onto the avocado and do the same with the papaya. Sprinkle alfalfa sprouts on and around the salad. Peel the cooked shrimp leaving the tails on and place on the top. Shake the zesty citron dressing well before and drizzle generously over the salad.

Bon apetit mes amis.

You may think that you have died and gone to heaven after eating this salad. At least I did!

Zesty citron dressing
make this in advance

1/2 cup of lime juice about 6 fresh key limes (I used ripe ones)
1/2 cup of white vinegar (or apple cider )
1 1/2 cups of water
2 cloves of minced garlic
1/2 small onion minced
small knob of minced ginger
1/2 hot pepper minced (use less if pepper is large and very hot)
1 tbs of pickling spices parched and partially crushed (I use a mortar and pestle for this)
3 to 6 tbs of sugar

Wash and cut the limes in half and remove the seeds. Squeeze the juice into a bowl and save about 4 lime shells. In a non aluminum pot add the lime juice, vinegar, lime shells and water. Add the garlic, onion, pepper, ginger, sugar and pickling spices to the mixture. You can adjust the taste with more water or sugar add little at a time and taste. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 mins on a lower setting. Remove the lime shells squeeze and discard. Allow the dressing to cool, bottle and refrigerate. This killer dressing can be used on salads, fish and meat

Pretty in pink

I had cut the grass this morning and the gazebo looked so pretty I couldn't resist these pics! Do I get any chance to partake in the hammock? Your guess is as good as mine.

I had a hog plum tree that was very untidy and the roots were unruly and affecting the lawn mower, so I had it cut down and planted this Dendrobium orchid in the stump. In the dry season it looks like death and in the rainy season a miraculous rebirth occurs.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

My travellers palms

The travellers palm (Ravenala madagascariensis) is not really a palm but belongs to the heliconia family.......look at the flower it looks like a giant heliconia. The seeds are encased in a hard shell and are covered with the most beautiful turquoise covering. I have never seen that colour replicated by man. We planted this tree about six or seven years ago and was amazed by the rapid growth. It has multiplied to five or six trees. The young plants are almost impossible to remove since they grow deeply under the mother plant. The gardener and I tried to remove them when they were smaller but decided that it was better to leave well alone or end up in the hospital.

Vines in my garden

Thunbergia Grandiflora also known as sky vine is a very aggressive vine . I have just cut mine down to the ground and already it has started springing back.

Chalice vine (solandra maxima) poisonous

Gloriosa gone wild

Bignonia Magnifica

Yellow Mandevilla (urechties lutea) is a rapidly growing vine now also know as an alamanda vine

Garlic vine (Cydista aequinoctialis) smells like garlic when leaves are crushed, flowers changes colours from lilac to pink and then to white.

Passion fruit vine (passiflora incense)

Friday, October 10, 2008

one day while driving

Cat's claw/showers of gold vine (macfadyena uncata)

One day while driving to Bridgetown our Capital, (and minding my own business of course), I suddenly caught this bright flash of yellow in the corner of my right eye. I looked further to the right and lo and behold there was a spectacular display of yellow flowers cascading down a huge mahogany tree. It took my breath away! Without hesitating I quickly turned right into the driveway and proceeded towards this magnificent display. I parked the car and looked around and saw a sign that stated that the property was owned by a religious group whose headquarters was in Jamaica. It was a very tranquil spot an oasis in the city. There were two dilapidated buildings one in stone and the other in wood. I got out and walked towards the tree. I called out to see if there was someone around and a youngish man came out of one of the buildings. I asked him about the property and he explained that he was the caretaker and that it was owned by the church and used as a training center. I then told him that the beautiful yellow vine beckoned me onto the property. He laughed and explained that it only flowers around Easter time or around April. Luckily I had my camera with me, I then asked him if I can take some pictures and if I can have some seedlings. I took my photos and he even helped me pull up a few plants and wished me a good day. I left feeling on top of the world. I have tried planting the seedlings under a huge tree in my garden but none survived. I plan to go back some time soon. It will probably take years for a vine that size to become established but I will keep hope alive. I don't know the name of this vine but as soon as I do I will post it. This vine can also been seen covering old sugar cane mills dotted around the island. I have discovered the name of this plant, common names are cat's claw/showers of gold vine and the latin name is macfadyena uncata

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

the round pond

This pond was an old cistern we found when we bought the property. It was all broken down and filled with rubbish. Hubby went down and cleaned it out and called in the mason. Voila it became a beautiful focal point in our garden.

after the rains

September and October are very rainy months in Barbados and it rained yesterday for an hour. I was out and when I got back I was surprised to see the lagoon. It normally gets like this after a whole day of rain. It just goes to show how heavy that shower was to fill up the garden. Luckily it never stays long it is all gone by the next day by way of a natural suck well in the rocks that takes it down to the sea. One day when I have enough money I will create a very large collection pond for irrigation.