Thursday, August 16, 2012


There are a few characteristics in our garden that stand out for the initiated and  unnitiated in the gardening practice.  It is beyond of likes and dislikes, it is there. 

BEJUCO* is the voice used in the Spanish speaking Caribbean to describe plants (vines) with long flexible stems that utilize other plants for support.   
Vines  may be herbaceous or woody.  The first mae firs are reduced in size with a limited disttibution mostly in thickets, secondary succession places and roadsides.    Wneh woodyWhen woody, the vines are known as lianas and reach large extension size with  branches occupying mostly fhe forest canopy, entwining the trees
and making the forest more dense and resistant to strong winds. 

Vines are more abundant in  tropical forests, constituting up to 40 percent of plant species.  In the West Indies, lianas constitute up to 8 percent of the flowering plants in rainforests.  In Puerto Rico there are approximately 300 native and naturalized vines and lianas constituting more or less 10 percent of the flora. From this total, 46 species were introduced, mostly for ornamental reasons or other purposes.

Vines stems are flexible and strong, capable to yield and bend when strong winds, move the trees  used for support. When the mechanisms used to hold to other plants are broken, new support points are developed.  Some lianas may reach 270 meters of extension.

The abundant growth of vines in forests affects its environmental conditions.  In the struggle with trees for soil for the roots and light for their leaves, the trees may be adversely affected.

                      Support Mechanisms and Strategies  

Vines may be classified in groups according to the strategy and mechanisms used to hold into other plants to climb.
Twiners vines twist their stems around other plants in a spiral pattern.  Other vines climb by aerial roots producing sticky substances or find support in groves or cracks in tree bark.
Another mechanism consist of organs sensitive to tack and light
known as tendrils, which twist around branches or stems of other plants.

Some vines posses leaves or branches functioning as tendrils. F;exible exended and ramified branches forming a net over circundant vegetation, constitutes another strategy.  Prickles  usually
recurved and found over leaves, stems and branches used to hold
on into other plants is another mechanism.

Adventitous discs (haustoriums) in parasite plants, extract nutrients from other plants and adhere to the host.

Flowers and Exotics from Puerto Rico

Edwin Milner Sola
page 97


If you find the above excerpt somewhat  odd, I do also. The reading  feels almost like one of those Google translators.    I had a chance to chat with the author, Mr. Miner, an old gizzard, not found in the web or trained in the field, who publishes his own books.

The information may be useful for the lay man/woman for further investigation.  In our garden, the information dealing with holding into this or that, is mostly metal, not stems. 

Vines have transformed our property. They provide a ton of shade, privacy and security.  Birds have found grounds for nests, (6 so far in the case of Spindalis), nectar for hummingbirds, butterflies and beetles.  

One pertinent issue if one does not like to spend much time prunning, is that you can even use kitchen scissors with non woody ones.      

Now, in my view, those gardens that push you to visit over and over
have some signature. It does not matter how. Some ways are very simple, planting in odd numbers a la ZEN, not in straight lines as I prefer, to name two.  I have wonder why, but there is no logical explanation, I tend to plant oddly.

Topiaries, hedges, trellises and pergolas separate any garden from the  great majority in the gardening scene.  However, I am not fond at all of vegetable triangles/balls and such, even if pruned to Swiss perfection.

*if you search under bejuco de puerco you will find it!

                                        that is that 


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