Plants can be a very welcome present, especially to the ardent gardener who receives a plant they’ve always wanted to own.

Petunias are so beautiful that you would hardly believe that they could be a close relative of the potato, tomato, and tobacco, but it is a fact. Also Petunia is the proper name for it, which makes it one of those lucky plants that is well known by its ‘proper‘ name worldwide, because it is attractive and very easy to remember. It‘s French origin petun means tobacco, and the petunia comes from South America just like the tomato and potato, and the three of them have more or less the same aroma if you crush the leaves. One species of petunia found in Ecuador is said to induce the dangerous sense of being able to fly or levitate if eaten, but of course they are grown for their beauty rather than their hallucinogenic properties.  In temperate countries where supply is not a problem, most people sow Petunia seed in the spring or buy sufficient plants for their needs from the local garden centre, and expect flowers from mid-summer onwards. Certainly in England Petunias are one of the main features in hanging baskets and window boxes everywhere. Because of the tropical climate in Guyana and heavy rains, buying and growing from plants is the best way, as the seed is so small that the slightest puff of wind will blow it away, for it always has to be sown on the surface. When plants are dry give them a really good drink of water.

Christmas palms (Veitchia merrilli) are not at all shy about producing fruits and seedlings, and will produce dozens of seedlings for potting on. It is a fine tree and will grow to a height of twenty-five feet eventually. It ought to be good for street tree work, but I have never seen it used as such in Georgetown, or anywhere else for that matter, probably because its rate of growth is none too rapid. It is good for the small garden and produces graceful foliage, but a word to the wise. Trees need to have well-prepared ground, and space for the roots to grow.

The hole into which they are planted should be no less than one foot wider than the root system, and should be dug over very well, incorporating plenty of garden compost. Make sure that the soil at the bottom of the hole is firmed well before you plant, and if the tree that you plant is on the large side or planted in an exposed position, drive a stake into the ground before you plant the tree so that you don‘t damage the roots, and then secure the tree to it. Never drive the stake in after you‘ve planted the tree, otherwise you‘ll do massive damage to the roots.

Until next week may your God go with you and take care at this very busy time of year.

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