Tip-Toe Through the Tree-Tops: Monteverde Cloud Forest, Costa Rica …

March 7th, 2012 § 3

Selvatura Park, Santa Elena, Costa Rica: Suspended Bridges Span Verdant Valleys & Lush Canopies of Mist-Covered Tree Tops

When describing a great adventure, sometimes the hardest part is knowing where to begin. Such was the case when I returned from my recent travels in Costa Rica. Because I truly fell in love with one particular area —the Monteverde Cloud Forest Region— I knew right away that I would find it impossible to tell the tale in chronological order. So I skipped right to the middle, and I hope you won’t mind!

Getting to Monteverde Cloud Forest —4,662′ above sea level— is quite a journey in and of itself. Miles and miles of narrow, dusty dirt roads twist and turn up, around and through the rugged mountainous terrain in the Puntarenas region. The travel is slow-going, with tourist-filled busses and supply trucks popping up around perilous corners. Although I love to drive, for once, I was very happy to be in the passenger seat!

The View from the Mountains Leading to Santa Elena, Looking Down to the Coast and Nicoya Peninsula 

The Monteverde area sits high above sea level, spanning Costa Rica’s continental divide, and encompassing a variety of microclimates.  The Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve is a protected, natural area founded by American Quakers when they settled the area and began farming in 1951. Since that time, more Cloud Forest area has been devoted to parks and preserves …

Mist-Covered Tree Tops at the Edge of the Continental Divide, Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve

Cloud Forests are truly some of the rarest, most magical places on Earth. Only 1% of the world’s wooded areas are cloud forests. While staying in Santa Elena de Monteverde at the beautiful Arco Iris Lodge, I visited two of these mysterious, mist-covered forests within minutes of each other: Selvatura Park and Monteverde Cloud Forest Biological Reserve.

Michaela in the Monteverde Cloud Forest

Selvatura Park alone boasts 8 suspended bridges, carrying hikers through and above the cloud-shrouded forest canopy. We spent approximately 3 hours hiking in Selvatura Park, and a similar amount of time in Monteverde Cloud Forest; listening to the sounds of tropical birds, breathing in the moist, warm air and ogling countless botanical beauties. There are far too many photographs and stories to share in just one post, but here’s a first glimpse at some of the incredible flora I observed at ground level. I truly felt as if I were roaming a gigantic terrarium …

Slender Threads of Mucuna Vine (there are seven different species in Costa Rica) Drape Between the Trees Like Emerald-Hued Web

Delightful Combinations of Hart’s Tongue (Elaphoglossum eximium) & Tree Ferns Mingle Upon & Between Moss-Covered Trunks

Begonia convallariodora, a cloud forest native, blooms in the shadowy, blue mist

This gorgeous, pink-tinged Blechnum occidentale, stands out amid her lush, verdant neighbors

Another Native of the Monteverde Reserve, This Beautifully Pink-Tinted Begonia involucrata Shimmers with a Fresh Coat of Raindrops

Familiar, Yet Strange: It’s Always a Pleasure to Stumble Upon a Common Houseplant —Like this Leathery Philodendron— Growing in Its Native Environment.

Bright Red, Tubular Cuphea appendiculata Flowering on the Forest Floor

Pathway Through the Monteverde Cloud Forest Floor, Lined with Senecio cooperi

At the End of One Trail, a Waterfall Spills Into a Fern-Lined Pool, Carved into Earth and Stone

Photographs and Text ⓒ Michaela Medina and WB for The Gardener’s Eden. All photos, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions) are the original, copyrighted property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Thank you!

Do you enjoy The Gardener’s Eden? You can help support this site by shopping through affiliate links. A small percentage of each sale will be paid to this site, helping to cover web hosting and maintenance costs. Thank you so much for your support!

Gardener's Supply Company

Dutch Gardens, Inc.

Plow & Hearth

Out With The Old & In With The New: Creating A Lush & Lively Indoor Oasis …

January 3rd, 2012 § 6

Bringing Nature’s Beauty Indoors: A Scene from My Wintertime Oasis. Clockwise from back: Cycas revoluta, Agave geminifolia & Kalanchoe ‘Manginii’

I kicked my Christmas tree out yesterday (p.s. Sorry Mr. Balsam, I will miss your sweet fragrance, but you were growing stale and it was time for a fresh start). Of course no sooner did I shove that big boy out the door than I began to long for something fresh and new to fill the void. Luckily, I have a growing collection of houseplants —many transitory summer residents of the balcony and terrace, seeking seasonal shelter from the cold— and they’ve been begging to move beyond their cramped corner in my studio.

This gorgeous orchid has just begun to bloom (Paphiopedilum Magic Leopard #1 x Paphiopedilum fairrieanum). Some orchids prefer dry, desert-like conditions, and others prefer tropical heat and humidity. Click back to my previous post on orchid obsession for resources and easy-care, species suggestions.

And while it’s certainly true that there’s a plant for almost every indoor situation, finding the right place for each species can be a challenge. Cacti and succulents thrive in hot, dry conditions; making them perfect winter residents for homes with wood stoves and furnaces. But other houseplants prefer cooler temperatures and high humidity. Just as you would investigate the cultural requirements of a perennial or shrub before choosing a spot for it in your garden, it’s wise to get familiar with the needs of your houseplants in order to provide them with the best microclimate within your home.

Most herbs, like this rosemary plant, prefer full sun and infrequent watering throughout the winter months. Situated beside a south-facing glass door in the kitchen, this plant provides fresh flavor to many dishes and refreshing scent beside the compost bin and dog dish (is that your bad breath, Oli?)

If you have pets or small children in your home, it’s very important to familiarize yourself with toxic plants and either avoid them entirely, or situate them within enclosed terrariums, high upon shelves, or in out-of-the-way, closed-off rooms. Revisit my post ‘Dangerous Beauty’ for helpful links, online lists and other toxic plant resources. And no matter how careful I am, inevitably some insect pest or other finds its way into my home and onto my houseplants during the winter months (even fresh cut flowers sometimes provide a ‘free ride’ to bugs!). Click back to my previous post on the subject of insect infestation for some non-toxic solutions and trouble-shooting resources.

Peperomia are wonderful, easy-care  houseplants. This particular cultivar, P.caperata ‘Raspberry Ripple’, has become one of my all-time favorites. Read more about this beauty in my previous post, ‘Hello, I Love You, Won’t You Tell Me Your Name’ by clicking here.

In addition to providing a pet-proof glass barrier for poisonous plants, terrariums also increase humidity and create endless possibilities for beautiful display of small, tender plants and objects. Learn how to make a terrarium and find more resources on my Indoor Eden page by clicking here.

Photographs and Text ⓒ Michaela Medina/The Gardener’s Eden. All photos, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions) are the original, copyrighted property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Thank you!

Do you enjoy The Gardener’s Eden? You can help support this site by shopping through affiliate links. A small percentage of each sale will be paid to this site, helping to cover web hosting and maintenance costs. Thank you so much for your support!

Gardener's Supply Company

Dutch Gardens, Inc.

Plow & Hearth

A Silver-Screen Terrarium Goddess: Platinum-Dusted, Red-Velvet-Robed Begonia ‘Royal Lustre’… Hello Gorgeous!

January 18th, 2011 § 3

Hello Silver-Screen, Terrarium Goddess: Begonia ‘Royal Lustre’

Even Her Backside is Perfect – Just Look at That Red…

Begonia ‘Royal Lustre’ Inside a Terrarium, Lined with Sheet Moss…

Substance is important in life. We all know that. But sometimes, every now and again, we just want to be swept off our feet. When I find myself craving a bit of old-fashioned glamour, I click on over to the classics, and drink in the shimmering, make-believe world of Hollywood in its heyday. Back in the 30s and 40s, leading ladies were like royalty, and they really dressed the part: high heels, silken gowns, opera-length gloves, powdered shoulders, ruby lips and platinum bouffants. A movie star was a movie star, and big celebrities knew they must never let their fans down. Style and elegance both on-screen and in everyday life were simply de rigueur.

During this time, legendary photographer George Hurrell rose to fame by showcasing Hollywood stars like jewels in a setting. He knew how to play with light and dark; putting beauty in the spotlight; creating gods and goddesses from mortal women and men. Stars like Bette Davis, Rita Hayworth and Jean Harlow owed much of their power and mystique to the likes of George Hurrell and his masterful touch…

Promotional photograph of Jean Harlow (1933) for the film “Bombshell”, by legendary Hollywood photographer George Hurrell.

When I run across a stunning, botanical beauty like Begonia ‘Royal Lustre’, I can’t help but think of George Hurrell. I ask myself, how can I showcase and bring out the best in this natural star? With her seductive, silvery-pink sheen, green accents and garnet hued under-pinnings, this drama queen demands a spot-light. Of course terrariums are the perfect place to showcase stunners like this one. Begonias thrive in the humid, shady microclimates created by terrariums. And ‘Royal Lustre’s diminutive size (her tiny leaves are less than two inches) makes her the ideal star for a tiny, glass stage. Although she does produce small white flowers, this gorgeous plant’s shimmering, multicolored foliage is the real headliner.

Naturally, dark and handsome companions are the perfect choice for this beauty. But  you can also really play up her pearly-pink coloring with vibrant moss and bright, emerald-green ferns. Do keep it simple –too much clutter will distract from her shining spotlight. And we all know that no self-respecting celebrity likes to be upstaged by her supporting cast. With ‘Royal Lustre’s natural radiance in mind, I chose a tall and elegant —but of course, understated— apothecary jar for this diva. And so far, my glamorous, glass-garden goddess seems to be settling in like she was born to the stage…

With her platinum good looks and mysterious allure, Begonia ‘Royal Lustre’ is the Jean Harlow-esque star of my latest terrarium drama…

A Jewel in the Spotlight – Jean Harlow Photograph (1933) by the Legendary George Hurrell

Begonia ‘Royal Lustre’ may be found online at Kartuz Greenhouses

Find more indoor garden and terrarium ideas on the Indoor Eden page. Or visit the retailers linked below – all are known for fine garden products and terrariums.

Article and Photographs (with noted exceptions) ⓒ Michaela at The Gardener’s Eden.

All content on this site (with noted exceptions) is the property of The Gardener’s Eden Online Journal, and may not be reproduced without written consent. Thank you!

VivaTerra - Eco Living With Style

shopterrain.com

Where Am I?

You are currently browsing the Begonias category at The Gardener's Eden.