Sunday 7 October 2012
Posted in Gardening at 18:58
With a northern exposure and on an inner courtyard, my patio has a sort of micro-climate that differs from Nice’s in general. Humidity tends to stick around, there’s no hot direct sun, and it doesn’t cool off as much in the evenings either. I haven’t had any luck growing the usual shade plants that need regular watering, and there’s just not enough sun for most native species to thrive. Both types of plants simply rot from the humidity, since they’re not able to dry out with the help of drier air or hot sunlight.
It took me a while to find something colorful that does well, and I discovered it on a whim, not at all out of research or planning. Back in May, I crossed a display of orchids for sale in my local supermarket. There had been plenty of such displays over the years, but for once, a plant caught my eye, and I bought it for its colors. One of the reasons I’d avoided orchids for so long is that I’d heard they were difficult to care for, but I figured with all the plants I had lost over the years, I might as well give a pretty one a shot, and though supermarket plants aren’t ideal, at least it was less expensive than orchids elsewhere. I finally looked up orchid care, and was delighted to find out that they thrive in high humidity, loose soil, and indirect sunlight. Mine kept its flowers for several months, all the way through August, and has been growing very happily on my patio. Ever since, I’ve looked more seriously at orchids in garden and flower shops, discovering this one yesterday afternoon at a yearly outdoor market put on by local shops.
This is a Cambria, which is a generic name for hybrids; this one is related to Odontoglossum. Its deep colors are a great autumn addition. Today I repotted its big sister, the Phalaenopsis, and planted the daffodil and iris bulbs I’ve had for several years now. While the irises and daffodils grow well enough on my patio, they don’t always bloom, so I’m really going to be gung-ho about attractive orchids from here on out! Color is so nice to have in a garden. Greens are also great, and I have plenty with my succulents and now some new air plants, also found at the market yesterday.
An Ionantha rubra on the left and a fun Bulbosa on the right, on top of my very happy hanging succulent. Air plants are also called tillandsia.
My patio table holds most of my smaller plants, to keep them out of the reach of curious, playful paws. That’s also why you see broken pot pieces on one corner… it keeps Miss Sprightly Susu from jumping onto the table and nosing around the plants – she likes to take apart succulents. The plant with the huge green leaves is that same Phalaenopsis! I can’t wait to see its next blossoms. There’s also a large pot on the right with a small aloe vera plant, one I found thanks to some cultivated aloe vera in Sophia Antipolis growing too many shoots for their own good – I was able to take this small shoot home.