Bloom Day in May: Mugongo

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My parents were visiting us last week, and we took an overnight trip to the north of Rwanda. We made a stop at Mugongo, the former home and plantation of long-time American resident Roz Carr, who founded Imbabazi Orphanage in 1994, reworking her old farm buildings.

You can read about Roz’s life in Rwanda, from 1949 to 2006, here.

The long English-style flower borders looked particularly colorful as we near the end of the rainy season. Among the many plants blooming were calla lilies, hybrid tea roses, crocosmias, cannas, calendulas, fuchsias, violets, ageratum, hydrangeas, borage, sedum, Santa Barbara and Shasta daisies, azaleas, irises, dahlias, begonias, and day lilies.

It is a credit to Roz’s good strong design and to the continuing dedication of the gardeners she trained that the garden is still so beautiful, almost eight years after her death.

Click here for more information about the Imbabazi Foundation and how to visit the Mugongo garden.

You can scroll through more (and larger) photos by clicking on ‘Continue reading’ below and then on any of the thumbnail images.

Thanks to Carol of May Dreams Gardens for hosting Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day (the 15th day of every month). Continue reading “Bloom Day in May: Mugongo”

Creeping fig

Rosamond Carr’s cottage in the Virunga hills is covered in creeping fig or Ficus pumila. The plant (along with the nice windows and the stone steps) turned a little square box into something really charming.

The Orangery of Dumbarton Oaks is also draped with a wonderful specimen, which was planted in its northwest corner in the 1860s.

Creeping fig in the Orangery of Dumbarton Oaks. Click the photo to enlarge it.
Built in 1810, the Orangery was undergoing renovation last summer.

Creeping fig will survive outdoors in (U.S.) zones 8 – 11.  It is native to east Asia.

Growing up a tree in our Kigali garden.

The plant is not fussy about its conditions, but does need consistently moist soil.  Very fast growing, its aerial roots will adhere to anything, even metal and glass. All the sources I consulted warned against letting it attach to a wooden structure. With brick or concrete, it should be grown on something designed to support the plant forever, as the little rootlets will be very hard to remove if you later want a bare surface.

The fruit of the ‘Awkeotsong’ variety is used to make aiyu jelly in Taiwan (and ice jelly in Singapore). But several websites warned that all parts of the plant are poisonous. It may be that the processing technique makes the jelly safe to eat.

Since you inquire about creepers and ficus pumila,
They sum up the mood of a dweller in the wilds;
Respectfully visiting you in calf’s muzzle breeks* with a dove-headed walking stick.

— Ruan Dacheng, Chinese poet (1587-1646)

Thanks to Pam at Digging for  hosting Foliage Follow Up today (always the 16th of the month).


* “. . . a kind of shorts, or possibly a kilt, associated with a casual way of life in ancient times.”