Mary, Mary, quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells, and cockle shells,
And pretty maids all in a row.
— popular English nursery rhyme
So, how is your garden growing these days? Probably not so well this time of year. Neither is mine, but not quite for the same reasons as yours. Those of you further away from the equator are dealing with the long, cold nights of winter and maybe a little snow that makes the environment less hospitable towards growing plants. For those of us who get 12 hours of sunlight year round, that’s not the problem. Our problem right now is that it is Dry Season. And while it does still rain during Dry Season, it is little and far between, leaving my garden a hot, dust and very dry place. But during the months of Rainy Season I was able to capture (with the help Robert’s photographic prowess) some of the wonderful things my garden is capable of producing.
When we first arrived, there wasn’t much to my garden (i.e. in our compound) except some drying grass and a little bitty lemon or orange tree (it was inside the cage of twigs Caleb is watering in the picture to the right, the cage is to protect the tree from the dogs). We’re not exactly sure which kind of tree it is as I’ve heard it called both by different people. I guess we will have and wait to see what kind of fruit it bears, which will probably be long after we are gone. It has since grown large enough as to no longer require the cage. There is a lovely tree with pretty yellow flowers just outside our compound wall that overhangs our yard quite a bit. Unfortunately, it was covered in a thick layer of Kampala dust when we got here, so we had to assume the leaves were green underneath the brown.
Not long after we moved in but before Rainy Season really began, our neighbor Maggie gave us some clippings from plants in her yard. The guard stuck what looked like random branches in the ground in various locations along the compound wall. I was really rather skeptical that they would grow, but they did. Quite nicely, I might add. We have three Birds of Paradise plants, one of which has bloomed twice, and a good size Angel Trump with beautiful pink blooms. There was another Angel Trump that unfortunately didn’t do as well, I think because it was in the constant shade of the tree just outside the wall. So I had it removed and have since replaced it with something else.
Maggie also brought us some little Bougainvillea plants she purchase at a local nursery. She actually had to do that twice as a couple of them didn’t take the first time. These plants provide function as well as form. They grow up along ropes secured to the razor wire that runs along the top of the wall, and when they reach the top they send out runners that trace their way through the razor wire. These runners help to obscure the unsightly razor wire with some greenery. They also provide additional deterrent to would-be intruders as they themselves have thorns. So far, two of our Bougainvillea have made it to the top of the wall and have been putting out runners that have begun to bloom quite prolifically, even in Dry Season. One is a pretty creamy white color and the other is a pinky peachy color, depending on the age of the bloom I think.
I have added a few touches of my own to our little compound garden. After admiring the Hibiscus blooms I kept seeing around town, I decided I wanted one of my own. Robert found me a red one at a local nursery not far from the house, and I was thrilled to discover when it bloomed that it is actually a double Hibiscus which is my favorite. I also had our guard plant the Poinsettia a friend had given me for Christmas where the Angel Trump had been dug up. It seems to like its shady spot much better than the previous occupant, although it is a little hard to tell as it too is in a little twig cage of its own to protect it from the dogs.
I also tried my hand at a little herb garden, although the only herb I have been able to grow is basil. But boy, did it grow. We had so many basil plants we gave some to Maggie as well as the office herb garden which has rosemary and mint as well. We also had a couple of rouge tomato plants spring up from the compost soil Maggie had given us for the herb garden. Unfortunately, quite a few of the tomatoes became infected with something, but I was still able to get maybe a dozen tomatoes off the plants which we enjoyed over the course of a couple of weeks.
Right now, my garden isn’t doing much. But I look forward to the day when the rains will return and my sleeping plants will awaken again and burst forth into loveliness.