Birds, Bees, and Bats

Birds, bees, and bats love the flowers in our front yard. The landscape along the fence has heliconia to the right and allamanda to the left. They are beautiful, but growing out of control. Our landlord’s wife came over this morning to replace two plants on the front porch that have been struggling with the rainy season. She wanted to put in something a little more cheery. She succeeded.

Then sweet-as-can-be Doña Gema took it upon herself to prune the heliconia and allamanda. That’s when things didn’t go quite as well. She did not see a small bee hive under one of the branches of allamanda. She got stung and her elbow swelled to the size of a cantaloupe. She went home for spray to kill the nest, and even brought me a huge squash from her garden. She finished up and left. I thanked her profusely and felt badly about her being stung.

The heliconia in the front is my favorite plant of that species (as seen in the photo). Back in the States I would sometimes see them in cut arrangements in flower shops. They are mostly used in landscaping here, but even though they are found throughout the rainforest, some Costa Ricans buy them as cut flowers for decorating their homes. This flower’s chief pollinator is the hummingbird, but bats have been known to help out. They use the broad leaves for shelter. I’ve not seen any bats during the day, nor do I care to go looking for them. But most nights, I can see them swooping just above the plants and in the light of the streetlamp to catch insects.  The backyard has the type of heliconia that looks like false bird-of-paradise. Hummingbirds of all sizes can be seen throughout the day zipping in and out of it.

The allamanda is pretty, but the petals are a pain to clean up. I rake them every week to try to eliminate bees, ants, and breeding areas for mosquitos. This plant is actually an evergreen shrub. It’s native to Central and South America, and I don’t remember ever seeing it anywhere in the States. Botanists believe it has both anticancer and antibacterial properties. I think it ironic that it has been used to treat malaria.

The front yard looks much better. And on the way to Bible study tonight, I think I’ll swing by to drop off a loaf of freshly-made pumpkin bread to hopefully make Doña Gema feel better.

 

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