Plant a bougainvillea this weekend for a change

Plant a bougainvillea this weekend for a change
Our building is new and has taken the place of an old and much loved single colonial bungalow built by my grandfather in the '30's. The garden when we were young was just a rambling collection of a variety of fruit trees and flowers. There was no symmetry to what was planted and it was a place which us kids were taught everything there was to know about plants by Dad.
We re-potted once a year with the compost from the compost pit. No going to nursery to buy plants. We took clippings of plants that caught our fancy from friends gardens and grew them from scratch. All along the front of the building were granite 'stands' on which the pots were placed and each of us had our own favourites.

With the new building which has taken the place of the old homestead, the architect has brought in a landscaper to do the garden around the building. A variety of the most ordinary plants were put down and sadly the man could not tell the sun lovers from the shade. Eventually inspite of all the pesticide and compost feeds, all the plants grew scraggly and died.
To take the place of the ordinary hedge plants which finally shriveled up and died, a very expensive row of dwarf anthuriums have been planted. Beautiful as a single plant inside a home mantel or sideboard, these lines of marching plants sadly do not evoke a sense of beauty in the garden. Instead they look like an expensive exhibit in a flower show.

On the roof the heat is so intense, that it's just the bougainvillea that bloom and grow. The colours are iridescent in the sunlight on the terrace. The snowy white Snow Princess which was a favourite of my fathers and he had no luck to grow has a showy presence now on the roof. A deep magenta variety is a mass of flowers on one side and the orange and pinks and variegated varieties too are blooming in the unseasonal February heat.

Even the bamboo lost its leaves and had to be coaxed back to life with a good dose of compost and a removal of the cakey red mud which was used everywhere -- the favourite of landscapers, but not of true gardeners. The reason being simple -- red soil is clayey and prevents the roots from breathing if not constantly loosened, Instead compost is lighter and less maintenance and plant friendly.

The palms are fine though tired in the heat, but it's the bougainvillea which thrive and lift a gardeners soul with their blossoms. After decades of searching I found an old world mauve bougainvillea and quickly bought the only two in the nursery. Sticking bits of the same variety snipped off a friends plant, into the soil and hoping they would grow, never worked unfortunately and I was thrilled when I eventually found them in this little nursery.

They have been planted into pots all set to be hoisted onto the roof, for us all to enjoy. So plant a bougainvillea today and enjoy it's flowers for a lifetime.





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