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My Two Cents Worth
February 15, 2011

This time of year for me is so very different from what it used to be living in Alberta. I would be sitting at the kitchen table looking out at my garden of white, slogging my way through the snow to empty the latest compost bin from the kitchen and watching the little chickadees flitting about the garden in cheerful and happy song. I won't mention the three layers of clothes I had to put on before I did the slogging!

Here in Panama our rainy season should be ending and the sun beaming down each day but the weather patterns are very different this year and not just here. I am sure you heard we had a lot of rain, so much so, that it killed our water supply for awhile and it was unfit for human consumption. Flooding, people loosing property and life just on the other side of this country. Where we live was fine, just lots of rain and the water problem. Nothing compared to what they lived through. Elsewhere in the world the faucets are still running and people are fleeing. I was in Grenada in January and it should have been sunny too, but La Nina is having her way this year and giving us all a royal tantrum. Speaking of Grenada, the inflight magazine that LIAT Air has called Zing, took one of my photos for its latest issue … it’s the screaming bougainvillea you see here…. And to tempt you to have one … here is a little article I wrote on them.

'The first Bougainvilleas were discovered in Rio de Janeiro in 1768 and named by a French botanist, Dr. Philibert Commercon after his close friend the French sailor and explorer Louis Antoine de Bougainville. Commercon was a passenger on this ship that Bougainville commanded and between 1766-1769, they sailed around the world.

Bougainvillea spectabilis or the common name - paper flower - has a range of different colors - from pink, to red, to orange, to white and yellow. The coloured flowers on Bougainvilleas are really very showy bracts that encircle the small white flowers that emerge from the centre of the bract. The leaves are shaped like hearts and are rich green in colour. The canes are covered with thorns and at the base of these thorns that is where the flowers grow. I cannot over emphasize how painful these thorns can be - the thorns are tipped with a black, waxy substance that is easily left in the flesh and can cause nasty sores if not looked after. That is why it is important to site these where they are not in close contact with people and to make sure they are pruned regularly if they are.

Bougainvillea is very flexible and can be pruned as a tree, a vine, a shrub or even a bonsai. Pruning part of the older canes will encourage new growth and plenty of flowers. If you want a hedge that nothing will get through, then this is your plant. Not only will it provide extra security, but planting different colours in your hedge will give you a rainbow of colour to enjoy while they are in bloom. This plant seems to have no pest problems as well except maybe aphids.

These plants flower best under stress so that is why you see more in bloom during the dry season. If you can keep the plant slightly on the dry side, and allow the plant to become root bound it will be covered with flowers most of the year. They are a heavy feeder so fertilize when you do water with 6-8-10. The root system of the bougainvillea is very fragile and if overwatered may cause the roots to rot.

Factoids:

  • They are among the showiest and strongest growing climbers in the world!
  • Bougainvilleas are almost totally insect free!
  • They make a great ‘Living Fence”
  • They tolerate extreme heat.

A signature Tropical Plant indeed!'

Each issue of the newsletter I will have the latest from our sponsors just for you and each week the site gets updated with the latest from our writers ... it's a wonderful way to stay connected to the gardening community, especially during the winter.

I see clubs are putting their 2011 events in. Be sure to check our Events area out to see what is happening and if there is something you want to list that is garden related, you can put the information in yourself!

For me this year is a year of travel as I head off on the tours. Have already been to Grenada and Thailand and head off to Canada Blooms next week. So many excited and happy people with thoughts of mostly keeping their bags under 25 kgs ... and I know a few who will really struggle with this concept! I have really tried to cut back what I take, just that much less to worry about and there is always shopping to take advantage of. On my final trip last year, they lost my bag from Madrid to London and this first trip of 2011 had them losing my bag from Trinidad to Panama ... sure hope this is not a sign of the future ... thankfully they were located but again if I could just get it down to carry on I would be a lot less stressed.

Anyway ... hope you know that all the tours are under www.gardeningtours.com  and I update that area a lot more now with information pertaining to each tour. Three are up and booking and three more to be finished off then they will be added.

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