Finally, I can report some actual gardening. It's taken a while for me to get going. First I had to just take in what grows here - the links below will describe the source of some of my decisions. Then, I needed to figure out what I wanted to 'do' without really changing what is already here - ie enhancing the basic layout without disturbing the already established plants but with some kind of point of view. Most importantly - I had to find the plants. After a trip to a small garden center in our neighborhood and then one to a much larger one in a suburb of the city which also yielded some amazing ceramic pots at outrageously low prices, I had the material and some ideas to make that start.
We basically have a small front yard and a long side yard with a brick lined skinny border already full of some fairly large mature plants. There are however quite a few empty patches in between these larger plants and right in the middle of the side yard there is a small tiled area which is the site of the septic tank. This area is exactly outside the window where our dining table is and the window is visible the minute you turn the corner as you walk downstairs from the bedrooms. So ideas about what to 'do' crystallized around making this view more interesting - which it certainly is now, I walk downstairs in the morning and am drawn to the window to look out for a few minutes before I sit down for breakfast.
In the picture you see a couple of the new design features I've added. On the left a large saucer like water pot planted with a Water Canna or Thalia dealbata, Pennywort and Water Lettuce. There'll be more waterpots to come - I hope to cover most of that tiled area - you can see where the idea for this came from here.
In the bare patches I've added foliage that have dark or purple tones- you can see in the picture Tradescantia Zebrina, Coleus and I've also got just out of the frame some Rheio Discolor and a tall stemmed Kaempferia. I've moved a few things around and also added some new things which are all in the ginger family inspired by my trip to the Ginger Garden - there's an unnamed ginger, a Costus, a different Globba, a Galangal ( Lengkuas) a Turmeric and hopefully the Black Turmeric I brought back from Rimbun Dahan will also take root. So there's a dark and ginger thing going on in this section.
I'll describe the other ideas and plants going on in other sections in further posts but just to sum the actual physical experience of gardening here in the tropics- boy, is it hard work if you have a lot do. Moving things around and planting a few things is sweat drenching labor. I think occasional gardening is maybe the only way to go about it and I have to guiltily admit, I got a fair amount of help from the maid. I also got a lot of help at the garden centers- the local one had an older Malay lady, the larger suburban one a young man from Myammar- both were fairly knowledgeable about growing conditions and end size and genuinely enthusiastic about showing me things as we zig zagged the property looking at different things.