Friday, March 27, 2009

Natives, Frogs, and Farewells

Philip and I are on a very big learning curve, since there are so many genuses and species we've never heard of here.  I refuse to attribute it to my advancing age, but I seem to have more difficulty remembering the Latin names these days.  In the past it was a snap,  though it may have helped that I had a few years of Latin in school.  But the plant names here...Coccoloba uvifera, Rapanea guineensis, Xanthozylum fagara...!  Since I'm a snobbish northeasterner, I have a theory that the more south you get, the sloppier they were with their Latin.  Those names just don't seem right to me!

Our house is shaded by several Jamaican dogwoods (Piscidia erythrina or piscipula).  The word "dogwood", by the way, has nothing to do with dogs but refers to the fact that the wood is hard enough to make "dags" or daggers.  At least, that's the derivation for the common name of those dogwoods from the genus Cornus; I'm not so sure how the Jamaican dogwood came to be called that.  It's other common name is fishpoison tree.  The leaves and branches were used in the past to stun fish which were then easily caught.  It's a traditional herbal remedy for neuralgia, migraine, insomnia and other nerve disorders.  But at our house, it's just a useful shade tree, and a bit of a weed - a typical member of the Legume family, seeding around so that if we didn't pay attention, we might have a dogwood forest.

I am leaving here tomorrow, and sad to go.   Still, it's spring up north and there is much to look forward to; including messy gardens in need of serious cleanup...I am a lazy fall gardener:  I like Kathy Purdy's description at her blog, Cold Climate Gardening, of one's energy shifting toward indoor instead of outdoor cleanup as the cooler weather sets in.

I will miss our door frogs who snooze the day away above the window next to our front door:

And I will miss all of the exotic textures that I see here, such as these:

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