21 December, 2022


They may be subtle, but Belize has definite seasons.  I can track them by the way the shadows fall on west veranda.  This afternoon of the winter solstice is shady and very pleasant.  By the end of March, the afternoon shadows will shift south, bathing (baking?) the west veranda in direct sun.  The screening that we put up to add some shade is working out very very well for the little plant nursery.  

Seedlings and kitchen herbs.

Arugula, 20 feet from the kitchen sink.  It prefers the shadier side of its little bed.

Malabar spinach seedling (back row) and Cuban thyme.
I'm very thrilled with the provision tree seedlings.  I started them from seeds I collected a tree about a quarter mile up the beach from us.  The pods are giant fuzzy brown rugby ball sized things which crack open to reveal 50 or so large seeds.
Section of a provision tree seed pod with seeds.  The seeds are golf ball sized.
I plunked each of the 8 seeds I collected into its own small pot, just nestled into the soil on 16 July.  I watered and waited.  And watered and waited.  And watered and waited.  Finally, 2 October saw the first little sprout emerge ...
The first seed sprouted!
In the end all but one sprouted, but in the meantime I planted one that washed up on the beach and it sprouted, so I wound up with 8 little trees.
Ready to plant outside. on 20 December.
I planted 4 of them out on the grounds.  They are supposed to be able to tolerate wet, brakish soil, so I was able to put a couple of them in spots that get wet when Black Creek floods during the rainy season.
Thrive, my brave little tree!

I put this one in the middle of iguana town, with prime nest sites about 12 feet to the east and west.
Provision trees have the most gorgeous flowers.  The buds look like a yellow banana and they peel open to reveal a mimosa-like spray of bright pinky red anthers.  I know I have photos of them, but I can't find them right now.  In the meantime here is a link to one that was photographed in Belize.  I can hardly wait until these trees bloom.

I also set out the Malabar spinach and the purple passion fruit that I had been nurturing in the shade nursery.
Malabar spinach is a vine and a prolific grower.  A couple of years we were able to share huge bagsfull of spinach with families in the village.  I hope we will be doing that again soon.

The purple passion fruit seedling was given to me by a friend who knows how much I adore passion fruit juice.  The trellis is half of a double security door that we no longer used.  We have a sort of pergola thing happening above this bed that passion fruit vine will spread out over.
Dennis has also been busy with various seedlings.  He started kuri squash and got them set out in a raised bed a couple of weeks ago. They seem happy.
Kuri squash, getting ready to escape the raised bed and take over the world.
A few years ago, we set out some jacks of red bananas.  They are finally coming into their own and it looks like we will have plenty to share in a few weeks.  These are not the tiny red bananas exported to supermarkets in the US.  I don't think these are suitable for shipping.  They are quite large and chunky.  I look forward to trying them.  They have the most gorgeous flowers.
The red banana plants and the bananas themselves are very robust.

Amazing flowers.

Various wild creatures also enjoy the west veranda.  
Clove stood stock still, staring at the young basilisk lizard for about 5 minutes.  She really wanted to get at it and shake it to death.  Her prey instinct is very strong.
I don't know if it is the same individual, but I have seen praying mantises on the veranda a number of times and just a couple of days found one right next to an egg case.

I love their eyes.

Same one as above, but arms up and ready to fight now.

Could be the same one - who knows? This photo was taken 10 weeks after the 2 above.

Egg case.  I will keep watch to see if I can catch them hatching.  I don't know what the incubation period is, so I will have to be vigilant.  Lucky for me, the egg case is right next to the clothes line and I can see it from the bedroom window.
So, we have been busy and now I must post this right now and take the dogs for their last walk of the day before it starts to get dark on this winter solstice!  Enjoy this longest night.


  1. What a story of gardening success. Happy solstice indeed!

    1. We are off to a good start for this season of gardening. but anything could happen! Hope you are keeping warm as the cold descends upon you.

  2. Your garden is wonderful, Happy Solstice and the best of the season to you,

    1. third try to reply - blogger ate my first 2 attempts to reply to you and Mitchell! Hope you and Lukas are cozy with heating pad, etc. I used to love a hot water bottle when we lived in MN. Happy Solstice to you both! xx

  3. 2 to 6 weeks incubation for praying mantis. So, you’ve got a bit of watching to do. Exciting.

    So much beauty. I didn’t know you could improve on paradise.

    1. As I mentioned to e, above, blogger ate my replies to you both! So - did you already just happen to know that about praying mantises? Or did you look it up? Good to know, regardless - thanks! Nature does a good job here in the beauty department!

    2. The info was in some recent trivia article I read somewhere and I always remember the most important and useful information. Don’t ask me what time or day I’m supposed to be somewhere.

    3. That's too funny, Mitchell! I still haven't seen any activity, but the babies are so tiny I could have missed the action.

  4. I love seeing all the exotic life around you! I've never heard of a provision tree but I look forward to seeing yours grow. Do they take long to get big enough to flower?

    1. I imagine it will take at least 5 years, probably longer, for the tree to bloom. In the meantime I will try to get some photos of flowers on the mature tree from which I collected the seeds. The trees can get quite tall - I have seen some that are more than 30 feet tall.

  5. Your plants look grand. I'm always so happy when I see something I've planted sprout. We usually have anoles running around and sometimes one or two move into my living room for a while, but they are gone now because we have unusually cold weather in Northeast Florida and it will get worse this weekend.


  6. Stay warm Janie! We always have geckoes inside. I love to have them around.

  7. Lovely to think of all that prolific growth in your part of the world, Wilma. Pretty cold and wintery here! Your photos are amazing!

    1. Hope the photos warm you a little bit, Chris! I baked today to warm the house up because it got down into the 60s last night!

  8. Hi, Wilma. The praying mantis in the first two photos is a male. The wing covers of males reach all the way to the tip of the abdomen. The third photo shows a female with wing covers only reaching about two thirds of the way down the abdomen. The abdomen of the female is also wider than that of the male.

    1. Hi Steve! Good to see you again! And thanks for the details on the 2 (!) praying mantis individuals. I had thought perhaps the differences were age related, so it is good to know otherwise. Hope you are doing well. Cheers.


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