Many plants look particularly gorgeous when lit at night, especially Pennisetum purpureum, all of the palm trees, and almost all of the aroids such as philodendrons, monsteras, alocasias and bamboos. The large Ali Baba pots and large clay pots are especially attractive when planted up and lit with Chinese lanterns. Strategically placed lights in a garden when you are forced to stay inside makes everywhere look very cosy.
During the growing season the gardener has to be on the move frequently removing leaves and infected stems and burning them. Whatever you do don‘t compost them. As I have said many times before, that doesn‘t get rid of pests or of diseases. Occasionally you will notice that the underside of some of your very tough leafy plants, such as the Monstera (swiss cheese plant), and philodendrons are attacked by scale insects. These little horrors start their evil work along the main veins of the leaves, and in a warm climate will spread very rapidly. Don‘t hesitate to cut off leaves that are heavily infected and burn them immediately. They seem to thrive and spread most quickly in the wet seasons.
I wonder how many of you can recognise the true ebony tree? This is a tree which grows in India and Sri Lanka (which was called Ceylon when I was a boy). In Latin it is called Diospyros ebenum. There are in fact six more trees which carry the name ebony in different parts of the world, and it highlights the importance of the need to be accurate in giving plants a name, and the benefits of using a universally agreed language such as the ‘dead‘ Latin of the ancient Romans. To illustrate this, the West Indies has its own ebony tree (called Albizzia lebbek ), which belongs to the legume family (peas and beans) and is totally unrelated to true ebony. In Trinidad the West Indian legume is called woman‘s tongue, and in Barbados where it grows prolifically, shak-shak. The seed pods rattle quite loudly in the breeze when they begin to dry.
The last plant I want to mention today is a particularly gorgeous shell rose called Begonia manicata, grown especially for its foliage. The seed is literally like dust; hardly discernible even with a hand lens it is so tiny. Growing it in Guyana may be a bit of a lottery if you understand what I mean. Firstly, the sowing surface has to be so fine, and I have in my time stretched old nylon stockings over a pot and sown very fine seed such as begonia or petunia onto that type of surface. The air has to be absolutely still, the hand rock-steady, and the eye good. You can‘t see the seed even leave the packet, and the slightest breath of air will blow it all away. Nerve-wracking is the term for it. From such small beginnings you can end up with some of the most magnificent foliage plants you‘ll ever see, up to five feet or more high. But hold your breath, and may your God go with you, and if you get half a chance buy plants of this begonia instead.