Monday, August 15, 2011
Flowers, Part 11: A Bougainvillea Devours A House
Bougainvillea are warmer climate plants sharing an unusual ability with poinsettias, another tropical plant: they don't flower, per se; they form brachs - leaves that turn color and mimic blooms, while the actual flowers are small afterthoughts, at best. I've seen both in Thailand, but you'll see far more bougainvillea - and what specimens you'll see!
The shrub to the left is a combination of two potted poinsettias that were pitiful, spindly specimens by the time they were put outdoors after a few weeks in the dry furnace heat of indoors a few Christmases ago, but three of them have found it acceptable in the ground near my front door here in California, and have even interwoven their roots to the point that some bracts "bloom" in both colors, as you can see if you look closely. They need trimming in the Fall to encourage the colors, so they don't get to be more than a meter tall here at my house - but in Thailand, Hawaii and Mexico I've seen them used as hedges, easily 10 feet tall.
But getting back to the "mutant" bouganvillea in the lead photo - I'd seen this specimen looming over a family's home a ways outside of Bangkok, and as I was getting ready to take the picture several people buzzed by on a motor scooter. Although their motion blurred them, I still liked the finished image, so although I took another one afterwards I'm using it today because it turned it into a three-in-one picture. In addition to the overall shot, if you look closely, you'll see detail from that shot I wish wasn't blurred: the box they're carrying has become a (admittedly risky) seat for their son as they went about their business (below).
The third part is somewhat hidden behind the scooter, so I've pulled that detail from the next shot to give you a more complete view. You can see the method to the madness in allowing a vine-like creeper with such wicked thorns to grow to such a size: shade. With very little attention this plant has grown to become shelter for both the house and inhabitants from the mid-day sun.
The way the house was situated this area was shaded from mid-morning until sunset by the pink canopy of the plant; creating open, usable living space for dining, visiting, playing and - as evidenced by the hammock - snoozing. As warm as it was when I took this it was a temptation to ask if I might try it out for a little while, but I didn't.