Monday, 16 July 2007

All the Tropical finery

Red Ginger should be a staple in every Caribbean garden. Its bright red bracts actually conceal the tiny white, "real" flower. Ginger also come in pink and white forms and there are several hybrid varities on the market. If you squeeze the flowers gently, they actually do give off a "gingery" smell. Lovely.
The King of Flower and the Queen of Flower trees, who is who? In a gender assumption reversal, the larger tree is listed in most tropical garden books as the Queen of Flower and the smaller, shrubbish crepe (or crape) myrtle is known locally as the King of Flowers. Both belong to the Lythraceae family, sometimes known as "Pride of India" The flowers are actually not very similar apart from colour and certainly the smaller crapemyrtle is much, much smaller than its larger sibling which can reach heights of 60 feet under ideal conditions.
Now while I say this, many people throughout the islands refer to the larger tree as the King and the smaller as the Queen. The Crapemyrtle seldom gets larger that 8-10 feet and is quite manageable in the garden. If anyone can shed some more light on the geneology of these two royals, please put your two cents in.

Here is a new iris. I already have the blue, which is large, blowsy and scented; the yellow which is VERY prolific and looks like a ground orchid and now, the salmon, which is more delicate than the yellow but not as over the top as the blue. If anyone can identify the name of this iris, please help. Thanks :) Edited: Nicole says that she thinks it's a Leopard Lily (Belamcanda chinensis) . Sounds authentic to me. Thanks Nicole.

I'm using my St Kitts photos again. It's not often that we see such a splendid display of Bismarckia nobilis or Bismark Palm. They grow quite slowly and show off their large fan-like bluey-silvery leaves. Leaf colours can vary with the most sought after being a beautiful blue-grey. It does best in full sun and I saw many of them in St Kitts. They tend to be not as common here in Trinidad, I suspect because we have far less bright sunshine.This naturally occurring lily pond popped up on Nevis much to my surprise. We had rounded a corner on the coast road and there it was in a river that fed out to the beach. When I investigated, the terrain was so similar to Mayaro with the same marshy ground under the coconut trees. I'm not sure if it is an ecosystem that develops around the coconut trees or vice versa but it was so like our river and swampland in Manzanilla and Mayaro. There were even loads of crab holes to ensure a running of the crabs at full moon. Even more remarkably, there were very attractive ducks that flew away when we arrived. So much diversity on such a tiny piece of island.
If you're like me, you never tire of the flamboyant or poinciana with its umbrella like shape. Its generous knobbly branches will sometimes reach to the ground waving their delicate feathery leaves. Before flowering, flamboyant will shed almost all leaves and take on quite a despondent appearance before bursting into bloom.