Orchid Show at the Botanical Gardens Starts Today (02 August)

The big flower and orchid show, Orquídeas, Pájaros y Flores, starts at the Botanical Gardens today and runs through 07 August. Check the earlier post on this subject for the times and ticket prices. If you are into plants, don’t miss this one.

Jardin Botanico During the Feria de las Flores

The Botanic Gardens are generally free admission but between 02 August and 07 August there will be an entry fee for the Orquídeas, Pájaros y Flores show  (Orchids, Birds and Flowers Show).  This is a great show and well worth the admission price. The gardens will be close on 08 August to allow the show to be dismantled. Free for the rest of the year!!! To get there just take the Metro to the Universidad Station and bare right when you leave the metro system 🙂

Admission for the Orquídeas, Pájaros y Flores show is as follows:

ADULTS:      $COP14,000 ($US 7.77*)

STUDENTS: $COP 10,000 ($US 5.55)

CHILDREN:  $COP 4,000 ($US 2.22)

* At today?s exchange rate of about 1800 pesos per dollar.

This show is well worth the price and  the effort to go. See ya there!

Transition to the Wet Season: Staring the Wicked Witch in the Face Again

In late-September and early-October we are in the transition to the wet season. We have had a nice “mid-year summer” and sure won’t complain. Between now and December we are looking at increasing amounts of rain and a lot of cool, cloudy weather. The reappearance of la niña (the wicked witch) and its expected residence through the upcoming rains indicates they are likely to be heavier than “normal.” But then again what is normal after nearly 3 la niña episodes in a row. BTW the wicked witch brings excessive rains to Colombia and is not a welcomed guest in most quarters.

Guayacan Amarillo

As the dry season gets underway here in Medellin the yellow guayacans (Tabebuia chysantha) are blooming up a storm. These are the trees that look like clouds of brilliant yellow all over the city.

Finca El Arroyuelo

An arroyuelo is a small stream or brook. In Colombia it has a special meaning rooted in the love of natures beauty. A finca is a country property which may be a farm or residence. We named our place Finca El Arroyuelo for the beautiful brook which forms our northern property line. Located in a hollow at about 2400 meters ( nearly 8000 feet) in the Andes it is rapidly becoming home to us.

The view from the porch is dominated by slopes covered in pine and cypress. Patches of native woodland also contribute to the local mosaic and we are honored to have and care for one that graces the west side of our little dell. This woodland is now tinged bronze with the new growth on the arrayan trees and here and there purple and lilac of siete cueros flowers make bold highlights. At the edge of the wood, the gigantic leaves of Gunnera form a frieze that contrast nicely and create a very tropical feel.

This patch of forest attracts many brightly colored birds including several tropical tanagers, green jays and emerald toucanets. This habitat also support at least four different hummingbirds. These sally forth to use the feeder hanging on the porch and provide constant entertainment.

The woods are mossy and full of beautiful plants of all kinds. Orchids, bromeliads, philodendrons, brightly colored mushrooms to name a few. In the landscape fuchsias, hydrangeas,  roses and begonias bloom year around. Our mostly organic garden is coming along very nicely and is beginning to produce very tasty vegetables.

I highly recommend a visit to the  Andes here above Medellin!

The Estadio Atanasio Giradot Sports Complex

Yesterday evening we went over to the Estadio Atanasio Giradot sports complex to see an exposition of Urban Garden design. That was an interesting event but I came away deeply impressed by the sports complex itself. After viewing the garden/landscape displays we happened to go into the gymnastics facility just to see what it was like.

What we found was a space for young people to learn and engage in gymnastics as sport. There were kids ranging from around 6 to teens and perhaps a bit beyond all learning and practicing. I kept thinking that with this kind of opportunity, in not to many years a lot more Colombians will be taking medals in the Olympic games.

The complex was remodeled for the 2010 South American Games at a significant cost. The work was well done and the result is a beautiful and very functional venue for future large scale events. This in its self will contribute to Medellin’s position as a destination in South America. More importantly; the use of the facility to provide spaces for human scale, day-to-day activities that fulfill needs for personal satisfaction and growth, expand and deepen the quality of life in this growing metropolis.

Our future depends on our ability to find meaning and satisfaction in activities such as athletics, dance, gardening, service to others and a vast range of other human capacities that do not require significant material inputs. A day is coming when the human race will face the sobering fact that the growth of our physical economies must stop. There are only so many resources and so may places to put our wastes. The implementation of a steady state economy will occur and it can be done smoothly by design or we can just blindly walk into the limits to growth inherent in life on a finite planet. The latter option is likely to be similar to walking into a buzz saw. What I saw at the  sports complex is a clue to how we can organize our lives to fit the dimensions of our environment. It also is an indication of how government can facilitate the move toward a rational economy.

Planting Potatoes

11 April 2010

Well I got those spuds in the ground yesterday afternoon. Afterward we had a nice long gentle rain which was just the ticket. Most of what I planted was papa criolla and I did get around 6 pieces of capria ( a red  somewhat similar to red rose) planted.

I also weed-whacked a lot of kikuyu grass which is invading our place from a neighbors lawn. I need to keep it down until the next dry season when I can hit it with the glypsofato ( Roundup). This herbicide needs 6 hours on the weed before it rains. Not likely during the wet season here.  I don’t like to use chemicals unless necessary. Kikuyu makes it necessary!  This invasion has reduced the biodiversity in our meadow significantly. We almost lost the fireflies. They are a part of this finca I just don’t want to lose.

10 April 2010

Last week I prepared a plot for potatoes at the finca. I started working on this area a couple of years ago but due to my lack of experience with these soils I had little success. Last year I let it go fallow and the kikuyu grass moved in with a vengeance. Over the last month or so I have been killing and removing kikuyu. Last week I added a small amount of lime and a 15-15-15 fertilizer. These soils are very acidic. This fertilizer has a urea base and will need to be supplemented with nitrate when the plants start to grow. I´m going to try to get chicken manure but getting it to the finca is difficult as there is no road onto the place.

Last night I cut up the seed potatoes. They are drying well and will be ready tomorrow. I probably should have had them in the ground 2 or three weeks ago but that did not happen.

In addition to regular potatoes I am planting papa lisa or ulluco at the finca. This is one of the ancient crops of the Andes. It is popular in southern Colombia but is used very little in Antioquia. I planted a few about two months ago but they have grown little due to the dry weather. More will go in today.

The Rains Have Begun

24 April 2010

This past week has been very warm and dry again. Most of the climate modeling suggests that the el Niño condition will end during the Northern Hemisphere summer and NOAA seems to be pretty sure about that now. I for one will be pleased to see the normal rains again.

The rainy season has started in earnest now. This past week has been very wet with rain most days. Several afternoons and evenings brought heavy downpours. The humidity is up a lot. This past dry season was intense and lasted longer than normal. Generally in mid-March there is a distinct increase in rainy weather. This year we had a couple of wet days but no where near enough.

NOAA has indicated that the el Niño should last only through this northern hemisphere summer. That would put us on track for a normal rainy season between October and December.

Climate in Medellin

I just added a page on the climate here which you can find at this link or in the list of pages to the left of your screen.

Streptocarpus

I found a couple of Streptocarpus plants at a street fair several months ago. I wanted to see how they do here in Medellin. Turns out they do very well. I got a bunch of seeds from one last week and planted them. They are starting to germinate now. It looks like the germination rate will be near +90%. Great plant for this area. A friend told me they also do well at elevations similar to those at the finca (2400 meters.)

30/09/09

The seedlings were up and green as of Monday 28/09.