Recently, I’ve started some of my summer flowers from seed and the potential for future colour and perfume laying dormant in those little packages has got me daydreaming once again about all of the inspiring and cheerful cosmos I saw in the Caribbean.
Today’s photo is a mixed botanical of sorts, representing tropical colour explosion at its best. I took this photo on a street corner in the town of Soufriere, St. Lucia. I can spot roses and croton (big colourful hedges) in the background, but what stands out most are the two red clerodendron (aka Clerodendrum) flowers up front.
I first saw clerodendron in Barbados but had no idea what it was. The plant was taller than the house it flanked with massive blooms that managed to stand upright, even in the wind. Very impressive! My friend David says it is a “tough as nails” plant that can be difficult to transplant due to its tap root. But once established it will grow just about anywhere.
I bought this adorable little Primula aricula ‘Pinstripe’ the other day at the Ontario Rock Garden Society sale. It was the one plant purchased there that I didn’t really need, but couldn’t bear to leave behind.
I’m currently keeping it in a little hypertuffa pot I made years back (molded around a plastic drinking cup), until I can find a new spot for it. Ariculas have a very dedicated, if not somewhat obsessive following and I’m probably breaking all sorts rules and generally freaking people out by growing it in this way — and top-dressing with grit no-less. However, it’s my first and I’m thinking of this as a learning experience/experiment.
Overall, I’m very taken with it and will be sad when the blooms have finished.
One of the things I brought back with me from our month-long Caribbean trip (did that really happen?) was a renewed enthusiasm for some of the tropicals we grow here at home as houseplants and annuals. Seeing them in their natural habitat provided new, helpful insights into their growth habits and needs, and an appreciation for what they are capable of.
I returned home eager to grow cosmos again, with a respect for caladium (although I will never grow them), and a wish to expand beyond African violets and into growing other Gesneriads (African violet family plants).
The first gesneriad that caught my interest was the episcia shown above. I spotted it growing out of a wall at Papillote Gardens in Dominica. I recently acquired a little cutting of a different episcia and boy do I wish I could grow it in the crack of an old wall like this one. But alas, while our summers are sometimes hot and steamy like the tropics, the rest of the year is not. Mine will be living life in a pot.