The Occasional Gardener: Ideas + Aesthetics + Inspiration from the Garden

Room to Grow


The arbor in the tropical potager is now fully covered with the Passiflora Coccinea. What a great job its doing of that. Very nice even cover over the bamboo trellis  trailing over the edge with a string of red flowers. I was recently offered a rattan coffee table that made me rethink things and bring the table over from the verandah, which I don't know why I didn't do earlier, its slatted and matches the slatted bench I already have here. Then I found a bamboo gate that concertinas, allowing me to gate off entry into this area, see left pic, from my dogs who love to dig in the beds here. Add a couple of solar laterns from Ikea and I have a garden room with a roof, a gate, lighting and a table to entertain or have a cup of coffee at in the mornings.

So I've entered a new phase in this part of the garden, spending more time here, enjoying the sunbirds swinging on the Passiflora and surprised by the amount of butterflies, lizards and squirrels it attracts. With this time spent,  I've also started to notice all the problems and empty spots which means when I'm at the farmers market, I'm more likely to think about buying plants to fill those spots.

I've wanted this garden to be more flowery and a more colorful but have had a terrible time making that happen. One issue is just getting to terms with what happens here in the tropics- things happen very quickly. Things get huge then sickly fast. Within days what were perfectly good and flowering have burnt to a crisp. Things in pots send roots out of that little hole in the bottom and before you know it there a monster of a plant in a tiny pot. There's a different pace here and I find myself discovering, too late, that something doesn't fit.

Another standout issue- perhaps because I want more flowers is how quickly nutrients leach out of the soil. I 'm only just beginning to grasp how much more compost and manure ( I use sheep manure from a guy at the market and chicken manure from the supermarket) to add.  When the miniature roses and the thai basil start to look a little lacklustre - I know its time to feed them again.

I'm also beginning to move away from just flowers and cheat with more colored foliage like lime green Osmoxylon lineare or red leaved Coleus and Cordyline that are much easier to please. Both the Coleus and the Portulacea also need regular pinching and replanting or they get lanky and start to fade.

There are banana trees here that cut out the very strong sun but I've been wrong in thinking that the shady spots at certain times of day, stay that way throughout the day. My worst mistakes have been to underestimate how dry it can get here. Its easy to forget that the long spells of rainy weather sometimes turn into long dry ones and I've paid the heavy price of checking in a week later to find carnage.

April is a rainy month here and things are going well. New plantings are adjusting, there is fruit on four of the banana trees and I'm loving the warm acid tones of lime, yellow and orange reds in one of the beds- you can see a bit of it in the right hand side pic.




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