Thursday, June 19, 2014

Tiny Dragons and Bottle Trees

The winter of 2013 affected my four "orchid trees" in different ways, not surprising as they were different varieties originating in very different climates.  Our native variety, Bauhinia lunarioides, commonly called an Anacacho Orchid, lost tender branches (about 2 to 3 feet of each limb), but has since fully recovered.   The Bauhinia blakeana, which produced enormous pink blooms that really did look like orchids, died to the ground.   A fourth, Bauhinia fortificata commonly called the Brazilian Orchid tree, also died.  I had high hopes for my favorite, Bauhinia mexicana, a tiny shrub with delightful split leaves, as it had survived freezes in other years.  But evidently our pattern of freezes alternating with high heat followed again by late season freezes was just too much -  and it too died.  The "native is better" movement may have gained support here.  Even so, we gardeners probably all have our guilty little collection of plants from some remote place with completely different growing conditions.

On the bright side, the dead trunk and branches of B. blakeana allowed me to make a bottle tree of sorts.  After trimming it back to highlight its form, the branches were decorated with Lucky Buddha beer bottles - each bottle sports a laughing, round bellied Buddha molded into the green glass who dares you not to smile.   In keeping with my pollinator friendly garden,  I also attached several bee houses then planted a Yellow Butterfly Vine at the base.  Oddly, the leaves of the vine look very much like the leaves of the Bauhinia it replaced.

As of today, 6 cells have bees and the Butterfly Vine is going crazy!  Two anoles seem to think it's their own little nirvana, and guard it ferociously.   All in all, the new activity is more than compensation for the loss. 

All material © 2014 by Vicki Blachman for Playin' Outside
Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.


Pam/Digging said...

Your Buddha bottle tree does indeed elicit smiles. I like the way you made a fun feature out of a garden loss. Speaking of bauhinias over the past winter, I lost a recently transplanted Anacacho orchid tree, which surprised me, but my Mexican bauhinia, which died to the roots, but is coming back strong.

Rock rose said...

You certainly know what to do with a dead tree and make good use of it. I once saw a tree in Gonzales and stopped to ask the man what it was. "Just a dead old tree" he said " and I planted a wisteria and it climbed up to the top" It was stunning.

Vicki @ Playin' Outside said...

Thanks for your comments! That "wisteria tree" sounds amazing. And Pam, it was actually your post on your butterfly vine that inspired me to plant this one. It's been growing as if it were on steroids so I'm actually relieved you told me it may freeze back each year.

Lori said...

I love your bottle trees. And what a fun visual joke that the butterfly vine looks just like bauhinia leaves! I have two of the native bauhinias, planted at roughly the same time from same-sized pots, and one has been sitting there doing pretty much nothing and the other is slowly starting to look like a tree. And the more neglected one in crappier soil is doing better, go figure. I swear that one of the greatest lessons in gardening is learning that sometimes, no matter what you do, what the plant wants to do is out of your hands.

vbdb said...

Lori, how true! One of the "dead" bauhinias waited until August to come back to life. We sometimes just have to leave them alone and see what happens.

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