Regenerating, Early Steps


In the early stages of regenerating this erstwhile coffee farm, moving decades-old ornamentals to the periphery has been an important activity. But some ornamentals stay put. The purple flowers center-left in the image above are a favorite of both hummingbirds and butterflies, so that bush, planted only one year ago, was a no-go. And behind it, a bougainvillea that was planted in 2001 remains because it has become a favorite place for hens to bring their chicks to hide under the foliage from a grey hawk that has taken up residence above in the poro trees.


In this image above, in the background is a sibling of the bougainvillea planted in 2001, and this one was already closer to the periphery so did not need moving. But in the foreground is an example of another ornamental that has a completely different purpose. It is, frankly, an ugly ornamental as these things go. It does not produce flowers, instead putting its energy and other resources underground to create a strong, deep root system. It is planted for soil retention. And this stalk was cut from a mature version of the same, as seen below.


This is an example of an ornamental that could not be moved even if we wanted to because the root system is like that of an oak tree. I did not photograph it before cutting it back to this size, but we harvested dozens of branches that could be replanted, like the one in the photo above it. It does not look like much above ground, but it is awesome below ground. The point of showing these two images is to demonstrate how quickly some plants will regenerate just by sticking a branch in the ground. The source plant and the planted branch are both sending out leaves less than two months since the one was cut back and the other was planted.


Here is another type of ornamental, in this case also where we were not moving the entire original plant, but taking cuttings. If you live in the USA you have probably seen this plant decorating an interior space, because it is grown in Costa Rica for export. These on the onetime coffee farm were planted in August, 2000 and have thrived in this shaded location. From the source plants of this type, again we took dozens of stalks about one foot in length.


In each case the source plant is thriving as the bright green shoots testify in the photo above and below.


You can see that the diameter of these cuttings was maximum one inch or so, and below you can see two months later how the offspring are doing.


Whether the cutting was one inch or quarter inch, all are sending off new branches that always start green but gain coloration even within the first two months.


This particular varietal is planted alongside one of the most important plants on the entire property, which is vetiver grass.


Vetiver was planted all alongside a stream that forms one side of the property’s boundary, to retain soil along the stream bank, while these new companion plants are there to both add soil retention and give a bit of color.


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