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by Tineke Wilders
by Tineke Wilders

Tineke is a native of The Netherlands and immigrated to Canada in 1972, then to southern California in 1985, where she lived and gardened for 18 years. In the late 70's, she wrote and hosted 39 weekly ½ hr TV gardening shows “World of Plants” for CBC Canada. She also started writing a regular garden column for the national magazine CHATELAINE, as well as several newspapers, such as the Toronto Globe & Mail and Calgary Herald.

A graduate of the California Master Gardener Program in 1987, she has written weekly gardening columns in the San Diego Union/Tribune for over 10 years and still writes a weekly column in the ‘North County Times’ and ‘Californian’ since over 12 years now.

She has also written numerous garden stories in magazines, such as Better Homes/Gardens and had a weekly gardening spot on KPBS Public Radio for over 2 years.

In 1995 she took a sabbatical and lived in Northern Michigan and completed the Michigan Master Gardener Program.

She currently studies and photographs tropical flowering trees and plants for a future book and travels extensively.

June 13, 2010

Visiting Margarita Island for the first time - coming from North America or Europe and depending on what time of the year - you will be welcomed by several beautiful flowering trees and vines on our island. One of the most visible vines is the gorgeous bougainvillea (Bougainvillea spectabilis or Bougainvillea brasiliensis), here on this island fondly and simply called “TRINITARIA”.

This flowering beauty is native to South America, from Brazil to Peru and the Chubut Province in southern Argentina. Its name was given in honor of Louis Antoine de Bougainville, a French Naval admiral, who in 1768 began his long journey to the Pacific Ocean and discovered the vine that still bears his name. In those days, it truly was a botanical highlight of the voyage. He became the first one to describe it to the Europeans and still today, the Bougainvillea flourishes all over the southern Mediterranean countries like France, Spain, Italy and Greece.

When you examine the Bougainvillea’s flowers close-up, you will notice that the vibrant color of this vine comes not from the small white tubular flowers, but that each cluster of three flowers is surrounded by 3 or 6 large paper-like bracts. These come in a variety of bright and sunny colors, including pink, magenta, purple, red, orange, white, and yellow. So it is sometimes referred to as the “paper flower”, because the colorful bracts are thin and papery.

Bougainvilleas are thorny and woody, rambling vines, growing as high as 12 meters tall, scrambling over other plants using their hooked thorns. They are evergreen where rainfall occurs all year, or can be deciduous (meaning losing all their leaves) after a dry season, but Bougainvilleas also seem to bloom best with little water. And because of its aggressive growth of their hardened thorns and prolific branches, this plant is often used as a natural barrier for security purposes. While you are visiting this beautiful island, take notice of the smiling Trinitaria!

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