Thursday, May 20, 2010

Not everything needs to be edible

So while the garden I'm cultivating is mostly geared towards vegetables, I do have some plants that are just for aesthetics.

This gerbera is one of the oldest plants I have in my garden actually. It was given to us as a gift about 7 years ago and has flowered every year. What's amazing is how hardy this plant is. It dries up and seems to die off every winter, but come spring there is a new set of leaves and by summer there are beautiful blooms.

While it is a great looking plant, I am also severely allergic to its pollen. So I can only admire it from afar.

Growing up on Guam gave me access to Bougainvillea all throughout my childhood. These trees can grow several meters in height if unchecked? They are also thorny and once you lose your soccer ball to one, it's never coming out.
This particular Bougainvillea is a purple miniature. Unfortunately due to insufficient sunlight it has not bloomed since the first year we bought it.

Bougainvillea are interesting because people often mistake the colorful leaves surrounding the flowers for the flowers themselves. Bougainvillea flowers are small and white and hide inside a group of colored leaves. These leaves are white, purple, red, or even orange. If you get a chance to see one, look carefully at the flower and you can see how the misunderstanding can be made.

Jade Plant
In Japanese this plant is called the "kane no naru ki" or "money tree". It is a type of succulent and is incredibly hardy. When the plant dries out, the leaves turn reddish. I've seen a plant return from the red state back to full, vigorous health.
In some ways the vigor of this plant is a little too much. It seems that any part of it can be used as a cutting. When a leaf falls off into the soil, it invariably grows roots and starts a new plant. If you buy one of these at the home center, a jade plant will typically run between 100-200 yen. I can't believe I'm busy throwing these sprouts out at those prices.

Christmas Rose
Two years ago we bought this flower, and for two years it has not bloomed. Although called Christmas Rose, the plant is not particularly durable in the cold weather and it goes through death/regrowth cycles like the gerbera. Last autumn, I transplanted it into the same planter as the composting heap, and it seems to have benefited from the extra nutrients. I expect it to flower this year.

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