In Italy, in Holland, in England, spring and summer gardens are wonderful places. Even the woods in these temperate zone countries are comfortable, relaxing places to walk. The pine forests of the Carolinas in the USA and the high woods of the Appalachains and Catskills - Virginia through upstate New York and into Canada - are breathtaking in their autumn glory. Spring blossoms in Italy in mimosa, forsythia, magnolia and and hundreds of flowering trees more colourful and dramatic than in the tropics.
Try to have an ordered garden in the tropics, and you toil endlessly against "the bush." In the rainy season especially, there seems to be an overwhelming wall of green everywhere you look. The knowing eye will differentiate bamboo from cassia, mango and pommerac from poui - which after its brief flowering in April May - blends into the backdrop of northern range forest.
What then is the challenge for the tropical gardener - whose very raison d'etre is to order and control according to his or her artistic eye. It means being handy with a cutlass, and being willing to cut back determinedly and unflinchingly as necessary. If you want tall trees around your house, how tall are you willing to let them go so they don't endanger your roof? If you have lawn - large or small patch - how often are you willing to mow? Some tropical gardeners choose plants that they can control - maybe a single large shady tree and beds or patches of ground cover, small bushes, or several different types and colours of the same species - hibiscus, or orchids, roses, anthuriums.
My choice has been to co-exist with as many large tropical species as possible. After all, my house displaced a bit of Northern Range forest in Santa Cruz. So nearby there is bois canot and bois flot, which are now tall enough for the corbeaux to land on and spread their wings like judges robes to the sun. The three cassia grande which bear small pink flowers and long seed pods are now over thirty feet tall. Even the live fir trees planted from different Christmases are shooting straight skyward. Barbados Pride and Shower of Gold are interspersed with banana clumps, mangoes and the wild trees. I don't think I am much of a gardener since I am loath to cut anything down. Though I may have to chop back the ficus which looks like it wants to take over the hill.
In the rainy season, there are few flowers, but the diversity and complexity of green leaves, branches, stalks and leaf litter are amazing. It's a jungle out there! Bats, toads, insects and without doubt, snakes too, love it! I enjoy a visit to the temperate woods and gardens, they are so easy to walk in, so calming. But the bush is my true home.