Archive for the ‘Gardening’ Category

The Australian Pine

Recently, I asked  Martin,  an Australian friend of mine to write in his blog about how Australian Pines might be used here in the Bahamas.  The Australian Pines, or “Casuarinas”  have the reputation of being “invasive plants”, rather unmanageable and growing everywhere, with and without permission, thus being largely viewed in the Bahamas and in Florida as giant weeds.

He replied with some very thoughtful commentary.  Here is what he said:

Thank you, Martin, for your thoughtful remarks.

Let’s see if we can’t get some additional good ideas about how to manage and use these pines from both sides of the world.

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Many Ways to Use Those Coconuts!

Coconut palm in our backyard.

Every year we try to get better about using all the coconuts that fall in our yard in the Abacos.

Here is what we have tried to do with them thus far:

  • cooking projects
  • arts and crafts
  • drinks
  • garden composting
  • landscaping
  • more will follow, no doubt.
Whatever you do, DO NOT stand under these formidable plants and look up.  
The first problem I encountered, after conquering my fear of being hit by one, is this: 


According to a youtube film I watched, this technique really works. First, take off the exterior layer
Use a knife or your teeth. This fellow can do it  with his teeth in 11 seconds!

Try This!!

That looked so easy!  Let me give it a try.
To be continued…….

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I love putting fresh flowers together from the garden.  It dresses up everything, except me.

I used to wear formal suits and heels but now my work dress is “garden casual”.   I  wear a pair of old hiking boots with white sports socks, worn out shirts, baggy pants covered with paint stains.  To top it off, I wear a big hat the covers my face and protects me from the hot mid-day sun.

Here I am on the steps getting ready to head out to the garden.
My office
Project Number 1
Typical work site for Project # 2
Staff meeting – just the way I like it.

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 When this Azaelea bush is in bloom, I know that for sure, spring is here.  It is such a splash of color, just before everything else comes out in bloom.  Without exception, it is the first bush in our yard to be in full color and always contrasts with the brown bushes and trees that will bloom a few weeks later.

The giant peony is also set to bloom, and looks lovely with the tulips tucked underneath.

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It grows along the edges of our back yard  between sun and shade.  Right now it is in bloom.

The leaf looks as though it were embroidered along the edges.

It is simply beautiful.

Added on 20 February:  Since writing this page I have found detailed information about this plant. It’s Latin name  is Kalanchoe pinnata and is said to be used in the topics for medical purposes.   We are also warned that it can be invasive in some locations especially where the soil has been disturbed.  It is also said to be a popular house plant.

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Carribbean Gardens

The New York Botannical Gardens (NYBG)  is having its Caribbean Gardening show from Jan 15-February 27 of 2011.   At the NYBG Website it says:

 ” While enjoying the balmy atmosphere in the Conservatory, be sure to keep an eye open for special signs pinpointing the location of some of the Caribbean’s most important plants, including the dramatic chalice vine, butterfly orchid, and Bougainvillea; delicious pineapple, coconut, mango, banana, chocolate, and vanilla; and plants with delightful names like ice cream bean, flamingo flower, Panama hat palm, lipstick tree, and autograph tree.”

This should be so interesting to visit and compare the plants we see there with the ones we find in the Abacos.  Of the ones mentioned above, we already have Bougainvillea, coconut and banana in our yard.  Here are some additional examples of the plants we have in our yard that I hope to identify  when visiting the upcoming Caribbean Garden show of the NYBG

First, is this lovely palm tree that has started spontaneously in our yard.


We have decided that it cannot be a coconut palm, because it has a soft, white root and all our coconut palms emerge from coconut seeds. 

 Here is another self starter that gets a lovely white orchid-like flower when it is in bloom.  The grass is only about 4 to 5 inches high.  When I find one in bloom I will add it to this site.

 Here is another interesting native plant. 
We call the one above a “Silver Button”, and it is expected to reach a maximum height of about 15 or 20 feet.
The one above is called a “Wild Hibiscus”.  It has pretty small red flowers.  
The two examples below are from very small, bushy trees that provide berries popular with the birds in our area.  

And may I introduce you to our baby fig tree?

Our fig tree is now three years old, and just starting to take hold. .

People around here call the one above the “Life Leaf”.  It has a lovely white flower when it is in bloom and is a delicate plant that grows around the edges between the “bush” and the “yard”.

This last tree below is called by many the”Madeira Olive” tree.  But when I look up the “Madeira” Tree, I do not see this kind of leaf and also, the “olive” on this tree is much smaller than the one shown in the book for a Madeira.  The parrots love the olive from this tree.  Last year, on one of our larger trees of this kind, we found over 50 parrots all hanging on the tree, eating the “olives”.

I must confess that I lack a lot of knowledge about the plants in my yard down here, but hope to become much more knowledgeable about them in 2011.    

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New York Sunset.
Abaco Sunrise.
Starting tomorrow,  I am  moving to the Abacos for the winter months.  I wonder if there are any bananas on the banana tree?

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We work with this garden so that when people walk into it they sense that they have entered the edges of a wilder area, perhaps a meadow.   The formal terraces near the house drift into softer terraces that become simple footpaths entering into the woods.  The farther terraces are naturalized rather than formal and well-defined.  These  varying locations are gardened differently and provide constantly changing colors and textures with each season.

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It is hard to believe that there is still this much color in the New York winter yard, but there is.  Here is our Thanksgiving Dinner floral arrangement that we made from our garden plants.  Brightest are the Winterberries and Hydrangeas, and also the varied leaves from a variety of bushes.  Softest color comes from the purple berries of the Beauty Bush.  Free for the taking and free shipping, of course.
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Color’s Last Blast

A worthy and sustained attempt to be colorful in the late autumn.  No plastic surgery for these fellows.  Just the beauty of the fade.

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