June 15, 2008

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day in Honduras - June 2008

Etlinger elatior, torch gingerCoral Etlinger elatior

This is my June entry in the Garden Bloggers Bloom Day for La Ceiba, Honduras. Luckily I took the photos and wrote most of the article last month, since I'm a little handicapped right now with ulnar tunnel syndrome. Just to keep it legal, I cross my heart and swear that all of these plants are still blooming in June!

It's wonderful to have such long-lasting blooming tropical plants but we don't have many of that thrill of new and different blooms each month that northern gardeners do. Oh, except for the orchids.

pale yellow Ixora
Ixora is a very common shrub in La Ceiba. Both the normal sized and the dwarf, though I see more of the dwarf. For some reason, both kinds are usually planted no more than 6 inches apart and the poor little shrubs always seem to be sheared into a boxed hedge at the first sign of blooms. These were started from a cutting that someone gave me. I like the pale, subdued color of this one.

Etlingera elatior, common name Torch Ginger
Etlingera elatior, common name Torch Ginger
Etlingera elatior, common name Torch Ginger. Here in Honduras, the pink Etlinger is called Bastón de la Reina (cane of the queen) and coral Etlinger is called Bastón de la Emperador (cane of the emperor). They are of the Zingiberaceae (ginger) family and the flowers rise from the ground on their own stalks. These blooms are a favorite of hummingbirds. These plants get HUGE! Some of the flowers are at eye level for me (about 5' tall) and the plants themselves are at least 15' tall.

Parrot's beak, heliconia rostrata
Heliconia rostrata (Parrot's beak) is a huge plant that spreads like crazy. We are going to have to be a little more stern with this plant.

Bougainvillea is called Napoleon here in La Ceiba. It is a staple of most tropical gardens as it is such a spectacular bloomer. This one serves just the purpose that I intended in that it obscures the tall concrete muro (fence) and provides a glorious view through the family and breakfast room windows. El Jefe was lucky enough to spot a toucan on the bougainvillea the other morning as he was reading the newspaper and drinking his coffee. He wasn't lucky enough to return with the camera in time to get a photo. Bougainvillea is another hummingbird favorite. I found several nests in the bougainvillea that I'll show you another time.

Red ginger, alpinia purpurata
Alpinia purpurata, common name red ginger, grows to about 10 feet (3 m.) and blooms year round. This is another staple of the tropical garden. It's a carefree plant that needs nothing in the way of attention other than occasionally trimming off the dead blooms and some drastic cutting back to keep in bounds.

Pink gingerPink Ginger. Both this and the red one above bloom year round. They never even take a pause.

Heliconia latispathaHeliconia latispatha is the scourge of my garden. Not that I don't like the flowers. I do! But it is so invasive. The original 3-4 plants were given to us by a neighbor and we've been digging them out for the past couple of years to no avail. They take over everything. Don't plant unless you have acres to fill!

You can see more photos of these and other plants in my garden here. There is also a nice slide show of bloom photos from my garden in June 2007 here.

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