Foto Friday: Lucky Gardening

Sometimes all you have to do is spit your watermelon seeds on the ground, and mother nature does the rest. Case in point, the flower bed in front of the Rasta cabana at Lower Dover Jungle Lodge.

Watermelon and Periwinkle in garden at Lower Dover Jungle Lodge

Only two months ago we were eating watermelon while staining the deck and I distinctly remember spitting a bunch of seeds in the garden to see if they would grow. Sure enough, a renegade watermelon decided to grow right alongside these pink and white periwinkles.

Black Orchid: National Flower of Belize

Black Orchid, The National Flower of Belize

Th Black Orchid,(Prosthechea cochleta), also commonly referred to as the Cockleshell or Clamshell Orchid, is not actually black at all. Rather, this unique orchid is dark blue with dark purple veins, making it appear black when hiding in the forest canopy.

The Black Orchid used to have 3 different latin names: Encyclia cochleata, Anacheilium cochleatum, and Epidendrum cochleatum, now that’s a lot of names to remember!, and it’s sure to be a trick question on Final Jeopardy some day…

Black Orchid, The National Flower of Belize

The Black Orchid is the national flower of Belize, and protected in all forests under Belize’s membership of CITES, an international agreement to protect plant and animal species in danger of extinction through international trade. It is illegal to remove orchids from the country of Belize without permit. The only ethical way to collect orchids in Belize is to scavenge them from fallen branches. Luckily, the Black Orchid is commonly cultivated internationally, but make sure to ask where it comes from before you purchase!

If you’re dying to see one, and are in Belize, look for them in front of the Xunantunich welcome center.

Foto Friday: Moses in a boat

Spiderwort lining the garden at Lower Dover.

Spiderwort a.k.a. Moses in boat, is a common plant growing in the tropics. It makes for an excellent landscaping plant, given it’s easy maintenance. It get’s its name from the pods, which are supposed to resemble Moses in a boat. It’s great for lining gardens and placing on the edge of foot paths, however be careful parts of it are poisonous. The sap can cause irritation to the skin, and definitely don’t chew on it. Once started it’s easy to maintain, it grows fast and can be split and replanted. In parts of Florida it has become an invasive species due to it’s rapid growth. In China, they use parts of the plant for medicinal purposes.

Spiderwort lining a garden at Lower Dover.

The pod, the name sake, Moses in a boat.

Moses in a boat cluster at Lower Dover.

Check out this first hand account of it’s abundance in Thailand at Bloom in Bert.

Also known as spiderwort, it’s an odd little plant really. It consists of a spiky rosette-shaped cluster of leaves with a purple-green hue. The leaves look quite normal if you look at them from the top; the strange thing is that the underside is a deep maroon color, for no particular reason.

It has quite a short stem, and doesn’t usually get much taller than about 30 to 40 centimeters. It gets its name from the fact that tiny white flowers appear from the base of the leaves near the stem. I suppose that if you have a few Heinekens (or Beer Laos, as I’ve recently discovered), and squint with your eyes half-closed, that in a certain light, the shape does slightly resemble a boat containing a white blob. Quite how this looks like a bearded baby bloke in a papyrus basket, I’m not sure.

This is certainly not the user-friendliest of plants, as all parts of the spiderwort are poisonous. Any contact with the sap may cause some stinging and your skin to itch. Attempt to eat this unassuming little shrub, and a severe burning in the mouth and throat will be the result. This is not the ideal plant to chew on.

If you have a patch of ground in your garden that you’re just tired of looking at, and want to cover in the easiest way possible with the minimum of effort, this plant is the one. Once it is established, it will require little further input or effort from you. It will be less enthusiastic if it’s too shaded, but with plenty of sun, it will continue to cover more ground quite contentedly.“

Coffee Grounds are great for gardening!

It may look like dirt, but coffee grounds are a great natural insecticide.

If you have ever tried your hand at gardening, you’ve surely run into some sort of critter getting at your precious plants. Ants are one of the biggest culprits when it comes to outdoor gardening, but there’s a natural way to battle them! Coffee grounds can be an effective, natural, deterrent for bugs on plants.

Save your coffee grounds for the garden!

Getting up with sun sometimes requires a little help, and we’ve been collecting our coffee grounds in an old tin. We wanted to make sure our freshly transplanted tomato plants weren’t going to be eaten by all the hungry jungle ants.

Place the coffee grounds around the base of the plant.

Placing coffee grounds around the base of the plant, once a week or so, will keep the ants, and other land critters away from your plants. This works for all types of plants, not just fruit producing plants. If you have a garden with just flowers, give it a shot.

The key is to wait until the plant is clear of the seedling stage, and has a healthy stem. Bugs don’t like the taste of coffee, and the smell can even deter those pesky airborne critters.

Protecting the tomato plants from ants!

So, next time you enjoy a nice cup of coffee in the morning, think about saving those coffee grounds and using them in your garden. Not only will it keep the bugs away, it’s great for the soil, and the next time you plant, you’re soil will be even richer with nutrients.

Garden on!