I Went To The Americas And I Got… A Pretty Chronic Plant Problem!
It began in Key West, Florida: three days there made me realise I want to live in an indoor jungle. And who wouldn’t when the only relief from the heat in that town is shade from big tropical plants, coupled with vintage ceiling fans? I cannot recreate the rich southern barbeque smells, the quaint wooden buildings of different sizes, shapes and colours with ornate verandas. But the forests spilling out onto the street from each one? I’d like some of that!
And so it was that I began to pay attention to plant porn! Staying in hostels in Mexico purely because they advertised ‘roof gardens’. Mexico provided a more kempt approach to plants. The streets of Roma and Condesa adorned with weaving trees, neatly placed plant pots fronting the brightly painted townhouses, and coffee shop awnings with hanging baskets on each corner. ‘Hmm’ I thought ‘hanging baskets’ and so it went straight on the list for my indoor jungle.
If you’re worried about your own plant problem, avoid Guatemala – for fantastic plants fill every space. Courtyards of bars, café gardens by the lake, dining spaces in hostels. I learned Spanish fulltime in a Jardin (garden). It was a big garden constantly under cultivation, with looming branches and giant, sprouting leaves. Its two buildings, were fronted by long terraces where many of us learned (others learned in the pathways between the trees, heaven). The terraces were framed by regimented archways which looked out onto giant leaves, and giving lessons a nice green hue. Next on the list – plants peeping around the edge of my window frame.
Although as we progressed south through El Salvador and Nicaragua, the plants became neater and sparser. Fewer courtyard jungles, and more feature plants in corners on elegant stands. Panama City, offered tropical plants fanning out next to hammocks and lining pleasant neighbourhoods. In the old town, Casco Viejo, ornate balconies with wooden window shutters, boasted potted plants framing the views back to the skyscrapers of Marbella.
Though I visited an actual jungle, in Colombia, it was a café in Medillín which caught my plant addict’s attention. It multiplied the appearance of its plants with large full wall mirrors. Like Key West before it, it matched them up with vintage ceiling fans. My ‘plant’ shopping list now includes, mirrors and ceiling fans, and elegant plant stands to place in corners.
And finally to Ecuador, which boasted all of the above in various locations. In Ecuador, it was the plant boxes brimming with ferns high above my head which I think may well provide the finishing touches to my foliage dream.
And so, to welcome you to my tiny future jungle, my plant shopping list will include:
Indoor hanging baskets – kitchen, I believe
A window box of plants to help create my green hue outside my bedroom window
A Cheese Plant or Paradise Palm to go next to the window for the green hue required in the livingroom
An elegant stand for an Asparagus fern or a Vintage Snake Plant in the corner of my corridor (providing of course that I actually have a corridor).. oh, or maybe a rubber plant, or a spider plant… maybe there’ll be several elegant stands
A large wall-sized mirror (possibly with a sepia tone) to reflect my asparagus fern/ vintage snake plant/ etc, several times over
Vintage ceiling fans (because I’ve decided these go together with all the plants)
A high up shelf with a plant box on it, filled with ferns, bathroom, possibly
A laddered herb garden in my kitchen (nothing to do with travelling, I spend long bus journeys on pinterest, too!)
A subscription to gardeners’ world so that I don’t immediately kill all said plants
Being a good girl, I listened well in year-8 science when they told me not to put plants in the bedroom (oxygen by day, carbon dioxide by night). But the rest of the post-travelling dream home will be a small green haven.
In the meantime I’ll continue to enjoy the plant filled cafes, court yards and gardens of South America… and the 120 photos I’ve taken of plants in 231 days of travelling.
Written by Bethan Ashmead Latham
Read more of Bethan's musings at Notes From Long Runs