Divine design. Living in the desert is a wonderful thing, but sometimes I need to get my "green" on and leave for awhile. Guatemala is the land of green...the color is everywhere. This country is also one of the most colorful in the world with the Mayan Indians contributing to most of the design in this very special and spiritual place. As a Spanish teacher, I travel to a lot of different countries every year. However, this year I had to stay home due to a major home repair....air conditioning!!! We needed a new unit...oh the cost:) I find that the garden keeps my mind off of my would be travel for the summer. There is next year and I look forward to planning another adventure.
These places inspire me with their unique designs and gardens. The desert, while a hostile place for many tropicals, can have a variety of these beautiful plants amongst our native trees and bushes. The key to growing tropical here is obviously proper watering, bright shade or a little shade, and protection from the winter nights. Wind also can play a factor on such plants like the musa or banana plant. This plant loves the sun...but hates the wind...and in Tucson, this plant can be tricky to grow. With that said, I have seen it done and done well. Phoenix seems to have the better results....again water is an important factor for your tropicals.
This topic came up yesterday as I was outside talking to my neighbors and they asked me if I had any big trips planned for the summer and I had to say no. Well I am going to Wisconsin for a little over a week, but that's not a major trip...that's a family trip.:) However, I will be going to the Milwaukee gardens and taking a lot of pics. Apparently, they have a saguaro cactus in one of their domes....I'll be snapping pics for proof:)
I have had success with a variety of tropicals here, but with the property being so large, I've had to make sure that my natives were established first and that the tree canopies are there to protect their tender leaves from the hot summer sun. Bird of paradise, philodendron, fatsia are some of the few that do well here with some afternoon shade. Cannas need light and do well in the sun. Most of these guys can be planted in the ground, but do extremely well in containers. I would recommend putting them in pots first to verify that they can handle the sun. Sometimes I think they will burn and I plant them in too shady of an area and they don't do well....so experiment first.
Finally, people ask me....what is the one plant that "popped" out at you in Guatemala? There were a lot, but the one that I noticed was the castor plant along Lake Atitlan. I have been experimenting with this plant this summer and have seen great results on the North Side of our building where it gets the right amount of sun. I tried this tropical "weed" on the south side and it burned and in the courtyard where there is a lot of shade....and it needed more sun as it grew spindly from not enough light. Again tricky, these tropicals are, but when in the right spot, they will add flare and beauty to your home and garden. It's well worth the effort. Happy gardening!!