Amazing Plants from Costa Rica – Part 1

I haven’t posted in a while, and my garden hasn’t progressed at all, oops! But that’s because I’ve been in Costa Rica! Wow, what a place, I’ve had the most incredible time and feel very lucky to have been. Costa Rica is known for its biodiversity and it’s amazing range of animals but I was equally fascinated by the plants that were there. So this post (with a second part to follow) includes my favourite plants from my trip and how they have inspired me for my garden.

1. Hibiscus

There were hibiscus plants everywhere in Costa Rica and they’re just stunning. I love the first picture on the left above with its beautiful feathery petals. After having read about them it sounds like they can be grown in the UK either indoors or outside but brought in for the winter so I isn’t have to get one now to remind me of the trip.

2. Orchids

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Well this orchid in particular, it looks like a fancy daffodil! Orchids were everywhere and grew so well outside, which as a Brit was a bizarre concept!

3. Variegated leaves

I’m not normally one for foliage but these leaves are just stunning. These plants definitely have inspired me to think more about using pretty leaves in my own garden instead of just for using on the flowers.

4. Cacao

Who doesn’t love chocolate?! We went to a cacao plantation to learn how chocolate is made and saw the plant in real life. The white fruit in the picture comes out of the pod and the seed inside is where the chocolate comes from, bizarrely the flowers grow out of the trunk! Tasting everything was fun too!

5. Bougainvillea

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I know bougainvilleas can be found in most warm countries but I’ll lever tire of seeing the density of the hot pink flowers (well technically leaves but you get the idea!). I’d love to grow one in my new greenhouse, I might try and get one at the flower shows next month.

6. Air Plants

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I’ve had an air plant for a while now and they fascinate me, so seeing them growing in the wild was bizarre! There were trees where every visible branch was covered in air plants. This picture isn’t the best but hopefully you can see the roots dangling down and a few air plants in the branches too, and they were huge!

7. Red-Bark Palm

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I don’t know the technical term for this palm but I do know that it’s beautiful, just look at the stems! Again I doubt this will grow in my garden but I’d love to find a plant or tree that had stems as stunning as this, the deep red contrasting with the green is an effect I’d love to have in the garden.

This would be a very long post if I posted everything I wanted to in one go, so I’ll do another post with some more plants from Costa Rica that inspired me.

Jen

 

 

 

 

 

 

Camellia Problems

I love camellias. My mum still has a gorgeous camellia in her garden which we affectionately call ‘the Jennifer tree’, which has been flowering profusely every year since I was born. The site of a spectacular camellia can’t be beaten really, everywhere I go lately I’m pointing at them in people’s front gardens and saying how wonderful they look.

So it was with great delight I realised we had a camellia by the front door of our new house, welcoming us at the the entrance. I was excited to see what the flower would be like, and in the end it was a simple yet beautiful, pure white flower with the most amazing yellow stamens at the centre.

The picture above was actually taken at the end of January and it still hasn’t finished flowering yet! This particular flower is on the wall as you can see, and I think perhaps got a bit excited about the extra heat it was getting from the house.

Despite my success at the back of the garden with camellias, I have had problems at the back. We have inherited another camellia with the  house that is on the North-East facing wall, and it hasn’t had any buds from which to flower at all. The foliage actually looks really healthy, but whilst the camellia in the front of the house has flowered and currently has lots of new growth on, the back garden version has stayed stagnant.

Google has suggested a number of reasons for this. The spot is currently full shade (though some pruning of a tree close to it might make this partial shade) which I doubt has helped matters. The other culprit is if it has got too dry in the previous summer, but I find that unlikely. It might be that I have to move it into a sunnier spot, but I will continue to work think about this one.

My other problem is with my new camellia that I purchased at the Knutsford Makers Market last summer. It’s a gorgeous camellia, with double flowers in shades of pink and white in a raspberry ripple effect. Unfortunately I’ve kept it in its pot since I bought it because I didn’t have the garden ready, and in the past week this has happened to the buds:


I have two potential culprits here, but if any readers have any ideas I’d love to know them too. Aside from yesterday, it’s been exceptionally dry lately and I could have taken my eye off the ball will watering. Alternatively there might have been a slight overnight frost which has just caught the petals. Either way I took my eye off the ball, I really hope it recovers! 

Jen

EDIT: By pure conincidence, Gardener’s World posted this video on Why there are no flowers on my camellia at the exact same time I wrote this post, so at least that answers some of my questions! 

Sweet Sweet Peas

With all the landscaping going on in the garden, it’s easy to forget about the plants! I have sown some seeds (which have taken over the house until I get a greenhouse!) and one of the flowers I’m most excited about are the sweet peas. I’ve down two different varieties: Sweet Pea Heirloom Mix and Sweet Pea Stripe Mix, both of which seem to be fragrant and delicate, everything a sweet pea should be.

I initially planted the sweet peas in compartmented seed trays and then potted them onto small pots, but I’ve since learnt that toilet rolls are a good option for planting sweet peas so the long roots can establish. I’ve also since learn you should soak the seeds overnight, but mine seem to be getting on ok with my amateur methods. I tried to give them straws to grow up, but as you can see they’re a bit past this now and need planting up.

I decided to plant them in pots because our garden just isn’t ready for them to go in the ground yet unfortunately, and train them up a wigwam that I wanted to make. So it was off to the garden centre for plant pots and willow canes. Hopefully as time goes on I’ll have these things just in the shed, but because I’m so new to gardening I don’t have all the supplies yet!


I’ve gently tied all the sweet peas to the stakes with string to encourage them to climb without damaging them. I’m hoping they have enough space as they are but time will tell.


I’m not sure wher I’ll put them yet but hopefully you’ll agree they look quite nice! I’ll be interested to see which variety works the best. Hopefully later in the summer I’ll be able to post pictures of the pots in full bloom.

Jen