A This Is Life In Haiti Post

There are a lot of fun and funny moments that fill our days here. I think those felt more blog worthy earlier on in my time in this crazy country, and over the years much of that has become normal for us, so it doesn’t hit on the radar as much as it used to.

Yesterday I spent a couple of hours down in the yard planting a bunch of things. You might remember when I posted about our trip up to Port Margot earlier this year, and the bounty of plants that Cory sent home with us. Well, a bunch of those were finally ready to go in the ground!

I know I’ve posted pictures of the yard on here before and chances are that when you look at some of these pictures you won’t notice a difference. That’s cool. Really, the difference is going to come in a little while when these plants get a chance to get established, because then they’ll start flowering. Some have already flowered in their roof top home. We have a few flowering things in the yard – a couple delicate hibiscus, a pink plumeria, a red flowering bush, and some type of lily that sets off these white firework looking flowers. But, given the size of our property, it wasn’t much. We also have a lot of shade, so it was a case of finding the right kinds of plants that would thrive. Cory was great about giving us a big assortment.

Yesterday I planted about 10 heliconia. I think we have 3 different kinds. The great thing about heliconia is that they continue to spread and you can eventually divide them. I tried to plant them in some strategic places where they could fill holes and we can see the flowers and enjoy them for various places.

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Heliconia with some of those white flowered lilies in front and a flowering shrub. Looks sparse now, but in a few months it could look very different!

Several years ago I bought some canna lily seeds. Typically you buy a tuber from a garden center and plant it like you would a bulb for other things, then it grows. Starting from seed took a long time, and in the end out of a dozen or so seeds I think I got two plants. I honestly didn’t have high hopes for them. Eventually Chris noticed they were getting bigger (I was really pregnant so not going up on the roof at the time) and he transplanted them into a big cement pot I have up there. Without exaggeration that plant is now over my head, and Chris has divided it several times. We have 4 large plants now from the first ones, and two of those are now in the ground and another just got moved down onto our deck so we could see it and fill a corner. The first one is ready to divide again and this morning I broke off some seeds to give to someone.

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The tall, lighter green plant right in the middle is one of my cannas.

At the same time that I ordered the cannas I also ordered some Hawaiian ti plants. They do grow here, typically the red version. I ordered both red and green, but was only successful getting the green ones to take. Yesterday I transplanted a few that weren’t in ideal spots and am hoping they’ll take over in their new homes.

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A ti plant in the foreground with one of the heliconias right behind it (you can see the dead flower on it).

We also got some ornamental ginger from Cory and that went in the ground a couple months ago. Yesterday I divided the first plant to get another one going by the outdoor shower. When this ginger takes off it really fills in and gets these bright pink rod like flowers. I’m excited to see if it’s going to do something. I keep seeing it everywhere here in haiti and have just wanted some in our yard so badly.

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The ginger is right below the shower pipe, and a couple new ti plants on either side.

Cory also gave us another shrub. He gave us two cuttings that were only about 6 inches long, and now we have full size potted plants, so they both went in the ground yesterday. they have darker green leaves and get this little bright pink flowers.

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Side view of the round house.

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From the other direction.

We’re in the middle of a training class right now. In the afternoons the students are with Thony, so Chris and I have been doing other things – like gardening. While Chris was over in the banana garden cutting some suckers to take to the new land he found a big toad. The kids have never seen one up close, so he picked it up with a banana leaf and brought it over, then dumped it in the kids pool. Olivia went and got Yonese and we had some fun trying to see if it could get out of the pool. When it did finally get out Yonese and I became toad wranglers as we tried to steer it away from the buildings. Chris apparently developed some love for Mr. Toad though and wouldn’t let Yonese dump him over the fence.

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Did I ever tell you that the Creole word for frog/toad is krapo? It’s true.

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Yonese giving our new friend a lift over the fence.

And, if I didn’t share this next bit of news with you Chris would be sad, and really, a gardening/things around the yard post would feel, well, less than without it.

Chris has been growing dragon fruit plants for about 2 1/2 years now. We’ve gone through 3 flowering cycles and until now the flowers have all just wilted, gone mushy and fallen off. This is normal as it can take up to 5 years sometimes to see the first fruit. Last week we went through an AMAZING flowering cycle. There were literally about 7 flowers per day. Each flower is about the size of Olivia’s head.

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Something different about this cycle was that there were a ton of busy bees moving pollen around. Last time there were a few bees and nothing much going on. Two days ago Chris noticed that one of the blooms looked different. It wasn’t going mushy and yellow and getting ready to fall off. In fact, the flower wilted, but there was a very strong green bud at the base of it. He quickly figured out that one of the flowers had taken and we were starting to get fruit. We have one more doing the same thing! We’re keeping our fingers tightly crossed that maybe this time we’ll actually see the first fruit.

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The reason this is so exciting is that to our knowledge there are no fruiting dragon fruit plants in Haiti. We know one property that has plants in St. Marc, and Chris has gotten cuttings from the owner, but he said his flower and have never given fruit. We know another project that has a tree nursery, and they’re growing plants, but theirs are very young and haven’t seen flowers yet. Haiti has the ideal growing climate for dragon fruit, so if we can get ours going, we can keep making cuttings and pass them on to others that want to try. We would love to see this fruit introduced to farmers because it’s so easy to grow once it’s established. As a cactus it needs little water and would work so well with Haiti’s dry season. We’ll keep you posted!

And, just as a wrap up, I know that growing up in Canada when I saw “tropical” plants they were typically in a green house, or as house plants. I thought that what I saw was exactly how those plants grew in their natural habitat. After being here for many years (8!) I’ve learned I was very wrong. It’s so fascinating to me to see what would be a house plant back home, in it’s natural climate. Completely different. A couple of examples for you:

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This rubber plant is several years old and was given to us by a friend. We’re babying it so we can move it to the new property. Why don’t we want to put it in the ground here? Because we’ve seen a full grown one – one that was about 80 feet tall! It was AMAZING. For Chris and I, this is a long term commitment type plant and we want to pick the perfect spot for it at the new land where it will have the room to become huge and beautiful, and where we can landscape around it and enjoy sitting under it. If you don’t believe me, the one we saw in a yard about 5 minutes away from our house looked like THIS.

One of the most common tropical house plants that you see is a philodendron. While yours might be big enough to crawl along the top of your kitchen cupboards, mine look like this:

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Don’t you want to come visit???

~Leslie

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2 thoughts on “A This Is Life In Haiti Post

    • It IS green here :) Granted, it is the rainy season right now, and for when it’s not we have a sprinkler system we put in that we run when the guys are washing sand for the filter program and we already have the water pump running.

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