Eden

A small town in the midst of scrub brush in flat West Texas has a garden, which was the result of one man’s labor.

eden01The Garden of Eden has some surprising elements.  It’s been two years since I last visited, and it has changed some.

eden1A large plastic tank has recycling water – nice soothing sound.

eden2An old milk can is used as the spout vessel.  I’m surprised that it hasn’t rusted out.

eden3Flame Acanthus (Aniscanthus quadrifidus var. quadrifidus var. wrightii) is scattered throughout the garden.  Once established, it’s very hardy.

eden4No surprise that hummingbirds and butterflies visit the tubular flowers.  It is drought tolerant and even does well in poor soils.

eden5Coral Honeysuckle or Trumpet Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) has become a bramble beside the metal archway where it was originally trained to grow.

eden7A banana tree growing in West Texas.  Hard to believe that it can withstand the dry heat or the winter temperatures.  Yet, here it is producing bananas.

eden6This was a volunteer plant that came up and no one has been able to identify it.

eden8Lots of pretty grasses.  Although many ornamental grasses last only one year, this one must be perennial.

edenaNative Morning Glory grabs hold of lots of bushes and intertwines in the stems and leaves.  Here it is growing among Mexican Petunias.

edenbThe yellow flowers are Texas Yellow Bells (Tacoma stans), which is a beloved plant that is native to far West Texas in the Big Bend area.  It is a tall shrub with gorgeous flowers that is drought tolerant and abides limestone soils.

However, cold winters have done mine in.  But I keep trying to save one.

eden02Although this garden has been turned over to the city and depends on volunteers for maintenance, the man who planted it is still very much involved.

edencTypical agave with Mexican Petunias behind them.  Agaves are not all that cold hardy, so I’m surprised to see them here.

edendTangerine Beauty Crossvine (Bignonia capreolate ‘Tangerine Beauty’) is a perfect fit for this part of Texas.  It is cold hardy, endures the hot summers, and is pretty, to boot.

edeneTexas Sotol (Dasylirion leiophyllum) is a common sight in pastures and is extremely hardy.  It has sharp edges, so it should not be planted close to walkways.

edenfAnother hardy plant, Salvia Greggii Red Sage has a pleasant scent, especially when brushed as one passes by it.  It is a semi woody plant that is native to Texas and Mexico.  It thrives in the heat but does not tolerant wet feet.

edengAs a soft plant for touching, Artemesia in the Mugwort family is a wonderful choice.  They are grown for their silvery-green foliage and for their wonderful aroma.

edenhMore Yellow Bells

edeniFour O’clocks (Mirabilis jalapa) were grown by the Aztecs for medicinal and ornamental purposes.  They spread profusely.  Where each black seed falls, a new plant will spring up.  The seeds can be seen in the picture where spend flowers have fallen.

edenjPalo Verde Trees (Parkinsonia aculeata) are desert trees that have pretty yellow flowers in the spring.  Maybe the mild winters the last few years have allowed this one to get a foothold.
edenkA clever tin man that I would like to duplicate but finding the right size cans could be a problem.

Although most of the plants in this garden are what one would expect to see in this area, it seems lush with the paths winding through tall shrubs and full plantings.

“Knowledge is knowing what to say.  Wisdom is knowing when to say it.”  unknown

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Coffee Plantation

There is no way that my pictures or descriptions are going to do justice to the verdant valleys, hills, and mountains of Costa Rica.  But here goes another stab at it.

Visiting the Doka Coffee Estate in the Central Valley provided a setting far removed from our Texas landscape.

costaR2The only way it was the same was that the strong morning sun made picture taking difficult.

costaR1Not sure if these are bananas or plantains.  Plantains were offered at several breakfast buffets.  The ones I tasted were good.  A little sugar and butter do wonders for lots of foods.  Or perhaps, the cooking process brings out the sweetness.

costaR3Hydrangeas were huge and sported many different colors.

We saw them growing in many areas of the country.  They seemed not to bother deadheading them.

costaR4Since I do not even attempt to grow them, they fascinated me.

costaR5Hydrangeas require too much water, time, and attention here.

costaR6But they are gorgeous.

costaR7These definitely look like Papyrus plants.  They aren’t growing in water, but the soil is probably wet enough for their needs.

costaR8I’m pretty sure the red flowers are Ginger plants.  They were another ubiquitous plant.

costaR9

costaRaThis young lady’s English was perfect.  She enunciated each word precisely.  Here she is explaining that they constantly grow new coffee plants to replace older ones.  As they age, the bean production slows down.

costaRbThis is the size planted in the fields.

Coffee trees are native to Ethiopia and were brought to the Americas by the British.

costaRdAs she talks, I can’t take my eyes off of the surroundings.

costaReThis red and yellow flower is Parrot Flower (Heliconia).  They have multi-colored bracts and varied flower structures.

costaRfcostaRg

costaRh It takes 2 to 4 years before a coffee tree produces beans that are ripe enough to harvest.

costaRjThe basket is hooked to a strap around the waist to free hands for picking.  Pickers are paid two (US) dollars for each basket of beans.  A good picker can fill 10 to 20 baskets a day.  They are instructed to pick the ripe red cherries, although some green ones get grabbed with the red ones.

costaRkThe pickers are Nicaraguan immigrants.  While working the fields for 6 months at a time, they are given housing with electricity, water, and schooling for their children.  Then they move on to harvest other crops.

Because of the political instability that exists in Nicaragua, there have been steady streams of illegal immigrants since 1978, the start of the revolution.  All immigrants receive the same benefits as natives.

costaRllThere were several food plants scattered among the coffee trees.  These are to provide food for birds in the hopes of distracting them from eating the coffee berries.

costaRlIn the background is a waterwheel.  This is part of the process of coffee production.  There is also a dry process that is used in other places.

costaRn

costaRmThe wet process uses water to sort the beans.

costaRnnIn the first step, the unripe fruit will float and be skimmed off.

costaRoThe skin of the cherry and some of the pulp is removed by pressing the fruit in water through a machine.

costaRooAquapulping removes the reminder of the pulp.

costaRpWe walk through a warehouse where bags of beans are stored.

costaRppcostaRqThen go out into a paved area where the beans are dried.  They are spread out in the sun to dry.  When it rains, they are covered with tarps.

When dry, the crumbly parchment skins are removed.  That’s what is seen in this picture.  We were there at the end of the harvesting and production season.

costaRrThe beans are being bagged to sell in the gift shop.

costaRrrThe different varieties are shown and explained.

costaRmmExtremely important to the history of Costa Rica is the oxcart.  Because of the hilly and mountainous terrain, it was the only way for many years to transport coffee and other produce.

Painting the oxcarts also has a long history.  At some point, a farmer noticed how a spot on a wheel made an interesting sight as it rolled along.  Then people got creative and tried to paint their carts with a unique design.

costaRqqAs we walk to the gift shop, more flowers speak to me.

costaRtcostaRsThe archway was covered with this vine.  The flowers had a waxy look.

costaRssThis vine looks like good old Crossvine.

costaRttMore Ginger.

costaRuUnusual bush.

costaRuuThere were flowers and the yellow “fruit” on the same bush.

costaRuuuDon’t know if it’s a fruit or not.  Interesting. costaRvv

costaRwA sidewalk is imprinted with coffee bean shapes.

costaRx

costaRyEven though neither of us drink coffee, this was a fascinating visit.

“Listen, Linus, friendship isn’t about who you’ve known the longest.  It’s all about the friend who comes and stands by your side in bad times.”  Charlie Brown