Roots-homeJanuary 2015 ● Gout Plant – Just like some uninhibited, life-loving, young, co-ed collegians, this smallish, deciduous tropical shrub is an exuberant, year ‘round bloomer. Though in the Euphorbia family, it is like Patty and me otherwise in that this easy to get along with character loves all manner of tropical life! Perhaps, more importantly, those with a brown thumb can appreciate that it requires limited attention, virtually no water and actually expects to dry out between waterings! Read More by Tomy Clarkson

roots-homeSeptember 2014 ● Cordyline – Some assert that these striking, vibrant plants are the “King of tropical foliage.” But, regardless whether this be an imperial or pauper plant, there is, definitely – in some botanical quarters – a difference of opinion regarding which family it belongs to. Beyond the above several family names, during my perusal of various tomes of botanical data in confirming information on this plant, I noted that it was also – confusingly – classified in the Lilaceae family by a few! Read More by Tomy Clarkrson

Nature-HomeAugust 2014 ● Flame Tree (Delonix regia) – This absolute stunner goes by some other names as well. In Spanish, it is sometimes called the Arbol de Fuego – Tree of Fire. And in Mexico, Costa Rica and parts of Central America it is often referred to as Malinche. This was the name of an Indian girl who was said to be so beautiful that she persuaded Hernan Cortez to spare her people from extermination by his conquistadors. Read More by Tomy Clarkrson


nature-homeJuly 2014 ● Indian Comb – ( Pachycereus pecten) -aboriginum – With limited space in Ola Brisa Gardens, we’ve made difficult decisions about what plants to showcase.  Early on we decided to have only a few (and those for accent) cacti.  Hence, this huge beauty – the Indian Comb – does not presently grow here.  But who knows, one might ultimately find a home in the expansion area across the street! Read More by Tomy Clarkrson


gardening-homeJune 2014 ● Aloe Vera (Aloe barbadensis) – Members of the Lily Family, all Aloe species feature succulent rosettes and tall spikes of red and/or yellow flora. In fact, the flowers of our Aloe barbadensis are perhaps the most favored blooms in our entire collection by an assortment of insects and birds. I’m certainly no ornithologist but I believe a couple of regular visitors to our plant are a Wedge-Tailed Sabrewing Hummingbird (Campylopterus curvipennis) – I’m not making these Latin names up – and the magnificent Hooded Oriole (Icterus cucullatus). Read More by Tomy Clarkrson

LipstickPalm-homeMay 2014 ● Lipstick Palm – This somewhat short palm is the proverbial “show stopping, eye popping, wowie-ka-zowie, looker”! Robert Lee Riffle – perhaps the most knowledgeable of all palm authorities – described them succinctly as “Exquisitely thin-trunked clustering feather palms” and in yet more glowing terms, “Never has nature been more profligate in lavishing beauty on a single plant.” From a guy who knew more about palms than any ten other botanists that some praise, huh? Read More by Tomy Clarkrson


Tommy-homeApril 2014 ● Mexican Milkweed – Also known as Blood-flower, Butterfly Weed, Scarlet Milkweed, Tropical Milkweed, Swallow-Wort, Red Cottonweed, Indian Root or Silkweed. If you have a Mexican Milkweed growing around your home and somewhat fluently understand butterfly (and what self-respecting gardener doesn’t?) you have probably heard visiting Monarchs enthusiastically exclaim, “Yum! This baby has it all!”. Read More by Tomy Clarkrson


March 2014 ● African Tulip TreeTo put the appearance of this disease-resistant tree in perspective, my botanical mentor, Robert Lee Riffle, has written that this is the second most beautiful tree in the world – following the Royal Poinciana (Delonix regia)! Purportedly discovered in 1787, its botanical name comes from the Greek words “spathe” and “oida” which refer to the spathe-like calyx. Read more by Tomy Clarkrson

naturetommy-homeFebruary 2014 ● Planting Roots in MexicoCommonly now grown in tropical and subtropical areas, as well as in mild Mediterranean climates, Pyrostegia venusta is a vigorous liana (a long-stemmed, woody vine, rooted in the soil at ground level, which uses an array of means for vertical support) that makes a beautiful ornamental plant with cascades of orange flowers. Read more by Tomy Clarkrson

nature-homeJanuary 2014 ● Planting Roots in Mexico – The Birds of Paradise – “Flamboyant” has been used to describe the Bird of Paradise. Native to the southern and eastern parts of the Cape Province and northern Natal in South Africa, I can think a no more apt a name than that! Its showy flower resembles the head of an exotic bird with an orange crest on a head and bill of blue. It is the quintessential floral essence of the tropics! Read more by Tomy Clarkrson

bamboo_homeSeptember 2013 ● Bamboo beauty or beast?Bamboo, you either have it and love it, or you or your neighbor have it and you want to get rid of it. This is a very aggressive plant. Bamboo (Poaceae) is actually a giant grass. It grows most everywhere where it is warm, but some varieties will tolerate the cold. Some are small and some are very large. Bamboo travels, invading your space or attacking your neighbor’s yard or garden. Read more

paraiso_homeAugust 2013 ● Heliconia – Tropical Spectaculars – Heliconia has many other names such as Lobster Claw, False Bird of Paradise, Parrot Heliconia and Wild Plantain. Heliconia is actually relative to the banana, and many of them exhibit banana like leaves, some narrow and some wide. While they are readily visible as cut flowers in local flower shops, these blossoms have been commercially grown. Read more 

butterfly_homeJuly 2013 ● Butterfly bush Many plants in our landscape attract butterflies. Here we are going to explore Buddleja davidii, otherwise known as Butterfly Bush. There are over 100 species of Buddleja. A few of them are considered trees. Some are evergreen and some are deciduous. Butterfly bush is one of the most attractive plants to butterflies. Read more

gardening_homeMay 2013 ● Palms Say It BestTry to picture in your mind any tropical setting without a palm tree in there somewhere. Even if it is in a desert oasis, the palm makes it feel tropical. It is a natural; it belongs there and it makes a statement. Palms can be tropical, but they can also be subtropical. Read more

gardening_homeApril 2013 ▪ Cups of GoldBoth of these vines are informally called “Cup of gold”, Copa de Oro, or Golden Trumpet vine. Both have similar growing habits and come from the same area, mainly Mexico and South and Central America. Allamanda shows up everywhere in the landscaping of the Bay of Banderas. Read more

gardening_homeMarch 2013 ▪ Gardening in Paradise (Puerto Vallarta)Just because a plant grows well in San Francisco or Montreal does not mean it is going to thrive in the tropical conditions we have here. They are just like us people, some do well in hot humid weather and some just can’t stand it. Lilacs, peonies and russet potatoes love it when they are in a colder climate. Read more

gardering_homeFebruary 2013 ▪ Annual color – Adding Colorful Plants when and where you need themMany people living here in Puerto Vallarta use macetas (flower pots) as their landscaping base, since most condos do not have yards or lawns (hooray). Many Vallartans live here only part time and rent their homes out when they are not here. Read Article

gardening_homeJanuary 2013 ▪ Orchids, then and nowThe story of orchids is almost like the story of the world. It is big, vast and has many facets. It is larger than the Lopez and Gonzales families combined. It is estimated that there are approximately 35,000 species of orchids in the world. This does not count the sub species and the hybrids. Read Article

gardening_homeDecember 2012 ▪ Poinsettia or Noche Buena: A Real Mexican NativeCan’t you just feel it, see it, and hear it? It is in the air, a little feeling of Navidad. A string of lights here, a decoration there, and holiday music in the background. We have had enough unpleasantness. It’s been a long hot summer; enough already, let’s move on. It is like the song from Auntie Mame, “We need a little Christmas, NOW.” Read Article

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