Bougainvillea are an immensely showy, floriferous and hardy plant. Virtually pest-free and disease resistant, it rewards its owner with an abundance of color and vitality when it is well looked after.

Scent-sational: An evening surrounded by tropical splendour

| Posted on 7:23 AM | Posted in

By Steve Whysall, Vancouver sun

Walking into Umberto Garbuio's garden at night is like walking into a perfume shop: the garden is drenched in the most heavenly fragrances.

At this time of year, Garbuio's garden in Burnaby is probably the most fragrant garden in Canada. It is, after all, almost October and yet his garden is brimming with some of most heavily scented plants on the planet.

And it is not merely the rare and exotic nature of the plants that make this garden unique, but the size of them: they are, by any standards, very large, mature specimens indeed.

There are towering angel's trumpets (Brugmansia) everywhere. Peach-coloured ones. Yellow ones. And an enormous white variety, that is at least four meters (13 feet) high and is weighed down with dozens of super-fragrant blooms.

The scent of these frost-tender plants, which are native to South America, is so intense it spills over into the street and often stops people in their tracks as they walk along the sidewalk.

In the back yard, along with exotic plants, such as blue plumbago and the Congo Cockatoo plant (Impatiens niamniamensis), Garbuio has at least half a dozen pots filled with the massively fragrant night-scented jasmine (Cestrum nocturnum), which also goes by the name Lady of the Night.

Indigenous to the West Indies, it has beautiful, white tube-shaped flowers that are bunched together in dense, loose clusters. These flowers release the full-strength of their fragrance at night. The sweetness of the scent is described as "intoxicating" by Gardino, a Florida nursery specializing in rare and unusual plants.

In some parts of the world, including Australia, New Zealand and parts of the southern U.S., cestrum has become an invasive, nuisance plant and is regarded as a weed.

But here in Canada, it is a tender specialty, much sought after by collectors of exotic plants, and needs to be brought into a frost-free place for winter. Garbuio keeps his in a heated greenhouse during the cold season.

Later this month, Garbuio's Queen of the Night plant (Epiphyllum oxypetalum) - also known as the Dutchman's pipe cactus - will burst into flower.

These large, white flowers also have a sensational fragrance.

Native to South America, the plant blooms just once a year, producing extraordinary flowers, which can measure 20 cm (eight inches) across.

They open at night, usually after 8 p.m. Enthusiasts say it almost always opens on a night with a full moon. Once open, the flowers, which are made up of a dense ruffle of soft white petals, breathe an unforgettable honey-like fragrance into the air.

In past years, Garbuio has organized special Queen-of-the-Night parties, so friends can be present to witness this once a year spectacular.

And being Italian, he supplies his guest with his home-made wine to toast the beauty of the blooms.

To complete the tropical feel of his garden, Garbuio also grows dozens of fuchsias, bougainvillea, pelargoniums, canna lilies, hardy banana trees, windmill palms, cactus and succulents.

He also has one of the largest Italian fig trees in B.C. plus grape and kiwi vines that produce bumper crops.

"My grandson once told me I had too many plants, so I told him he had too many toys, and he said, 'No, I don't' and I said, 'Neither do I."

It is true, however, that many of his plants have to be carefully packed away in a warm greenhouse for winter. That is a lot of work every October.

Still, Garbuio, 77, who has been garden all his life, says the pleasure he gets from his fantastically fragrant garden is worth all the effort.

Grow Bougainvillea; add color and beauty to the landscape

| Posted on 10:51 PM | Posted in

Bougainvillea tree, the very name reminds you of the fuchsia flowers delicately hanging from the boughs of a thorny creeper. Whether the fragile beauty of the pink bougainvillea flowers or the white patina of the bougainvillea blooms, it is the very delicate sheen of the plant, which diffuses the magic of dream and joy amidst its color and beauty.

A native of Brazil, the bougainvillea was first spotted by the French botanist Philibert Commerson in the year 1760 and named it bouganvillea after his friend and captain, Louis A. de Bougainville, a noted lawyer, mathematician, and explorer from Canada. Hence began the journey of bougainvillea tree as one of the most sought after plants for decorative purpose.

Bougainvillea with crisp, paper like flower is easy to grow. Being a tropical plant, sunshine and plenty of water are two important factors, needed for its growth. Neither frost nor chilly wind is welcome by the bougainvillea plant. Warm climate is therefore the ideal season to plant the bougainvillea.

Although, bougainvillea loves the dry and warm climate yet do not fail to water them daily. Regular watering and 5-6 hours of constant sunshine will make your bougainvillea to bloom better.

Supply your bougainvillea plant with a phosphorus, iron and magnesium enriched fertilizer, depending upon the soil type. For a healthy growth you need to prune your bougainvillea during the end of the winter or latest by the early spring. If you have a healthy flowering bougainvillea, then start making more plants from the mother tree.

Cut sections of around 6 inches long and immerse them in rooting hormones. Strip off the bottom leaves and also moisten the section before you plant it into small pots, filled with fertilizer and sand. Keep an eye to the growth and only after they visibly develop the roots transplant the bougainvillea plant to a sunny spot in your garden. However, ensure not to disturb their cantankerous root whilst replanting.

How to replant your bougainvillea

Dig a hole twice as wide as the root ball and as deep as the pot.

Set the bougainvillea shrub in the hole and now gently slide the pot from around the root area.

Do not drop the plant while replanting. Also do not tamp on the planted area with your boot.

Gently handle your bougainvillea vine to add that little extra to your landscape with the delicate shimmer of the bougainvillea flowers.

Bougainvillea bonsai; keeping your miniature bougainvillea alive

| Posted on 10:41 PM | Posted in

Small flowering bougainvillea sitting at the corner of your room or hanging from the balcony is indeed the most sought after item for decor. Whether to decorate your living room, or to add a woody touch to your study corner, or to create a dramatic ambiance to your terrace a bougainvillea bonsai is indeed a must choice. .

Bonsai trees normally does not bear flower and the only difference is the bougainvillea bonsai, which is sure to amuse you with its color and beauty. Belonging to the Nyctaginaceae family, which is part tree and part vine, bougainvillea bonsai can be kept almost anywhere and everywhere. Be it indoor or outdoor, your bougainvillea bonsai with its parade of color will definitely silhouette the ambiance for you.

However, proper care is indeed necessary to maintain the health of your miniature bougainvillea. Issues like watering, lighting; feeding, temperature, re potting and styling are all important factors in determining the health of the bougainvillea bonsai.

Temperature and lighting for the bougainvillea bonsai

Bougainvillea is a tropical plant and quite ideally therefore the bonsai also likes to be in direct and adequate sunlight. However be careful of not letting your bougainvillea bonsai to experience sunburn. This will in turn damage its freshness. Bougainvillea bonsai should be kept in a temp ranging from 49-54 degree F.

Watering of the bougainvillea bonsai

Bougainvillea bonsai does not require regular or continuous watering rather , the miniature tree likes it dry for most of the season. However, during the flowering period an increased amount of watering ensures better result.

Fertilization of the bougainvillea bonsai plant

Supply your bougainvillea plant with a phosphorus, iron and magnesium enriched fertilizer, depending upon the soil type

Pruning and styling of the bougainvillea bonsai

One technique that will help your bougainvillea bonsai to look good throughout the year is proper pruning. Prune this bonsai at any point of time of the year. Cut the new growth every month when the plant is young. This will indeed help in promoting a bushy plant. Cut back the branches if you feel that the bonsai has overgrown.

Pruning the Roots

Apart from pruning the braches if you find that the roots are getting bigger then you need to prune the bonsai to replant it in a larger pot. You may then even cut a small portion to start making smaller bougainvillea bonsais.

Keeping your bougainvillea bonsai alive is easy and fun. All you need is your love and care, attention and your personal touch, for which the little plant crave for. Give it your little time and your bougainvillea bonsai will gift you back a fusion of dream, beauty, color and joy.