When we lived in the States, I was pretty confident with my “flower power.” If you pointed at it, I could probably tell you what it was. Violets and day lilies, daffodils and lilacs, lily of the valley and hyacinths, they were all old friends. If I spotted something unfamiliar in a yard, I could always knock on the door and the owner would usually be able to tell me what was growing. If not, I could look it up in a seed catalogue or another book.
Now, here I am, transplanted to Costa Rica and not one of my old friends lives here. And, if I knock on a door, the owner can’t tell me the name either, since “it was just growing there when we moved in, and my gardener has no idea what it is.”
Just as an example, I took a 10-minute walk in Coco today and found this little fellow growing in a hedge of hibiscus (yes, I can tell my hibiscus from other plants).
A nicely scented flower about 1 cm. (less than ½ inch) across. Do I know what it is? Not a chance. And, since I was in Coco without my books I had only a small chance of naming him. I could look him up, but the Internet is spotty….
I had ‘mumble-mumble’ years to learn my flowers and trees in the States, and I don’t think I have enough time to learn the names of the flowers in my adopted country. This was brought home to me when I read that there is a park here in Costa Rica that has brought in experts to check their trees because they don’t know what they are. Hey, that works for me! If they have lived here all their lives and can’t name the local flora, maybe I am off the hook?
The problem is I don’t want to be off the hook. I really would like to know what’s growing in my yard. Maybe not my whole yard (which is 11 acres), maybe just the part near the house. It would be especially nice to know the names of things I am planting on purpose, not just what sprang up. I always ask when I buy something at a vivaro but sometimes I only get the local name – better than nothing, but not usually a name I can check out in a book or on the web.
Still, I keep at it. Someday there will be little signs in indelible ink on my plantings with a scientific name, a common name, and a local name. Or maybe I’m just dreaming…..