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Saturday, May 14, 2016

The "A Perfect Name For A Flower From The Caribbean" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Standing with Dee on his hilltop balcony, looking south toward the town of Philipsburg in Sint Maarten.  Carol and I had just toured his tropical garden with him and were standing on the balcony of his home as we finished our drinks.  Dee looked below at his garden and pointed one final flower out to me.  "That white one down there is called a shell flower."  
The Shell Flower!
What a perfect name for a flower that is found on a Caribbean island that is surrounded by white sand beaches filled with nautical mementos.  I tried to take a photo of the flowers from our location high above the garden, but wasn't successful, so his wife, Barbara, took me down through their house to get a better photograph of the flower.  Beautiful white buds with a reddish-pink tip and a brilliant yellow and red center.  It was last year at this time of the year that Carol and I had a chance to meet Barbara and Diederick for the first time.  I met Barbara on the Internet while visiting sites dedicate to St. Martin/Sint Maarten.  
Dee showing Carol nuts from the palm trees.
She grew up in Williams- port, Pennsyl- vania which is about two hours from my home in Lancaster.  She met her husband Dee, known as her Gardener to many of us on the Internet, while visiting the island years ago.  She needed a rental car and at the time Diederick had a rental business.  After more visits, and car rentals, she moved to the island and married her island love.  Carol and I were lucky enough to visit last year to see the fantastic garden that her gardener has been working on since 1970 after he built the house with the blue roof on Sugar Hill Drive.  
Dee's night blooming day lily from Carol's seeds.
After our trip last year, Carol decided she wanted to make a contribution to his garden so we mailed seed pods from her white night-blooming lillies and some bulbs from her very large Elephant Ear plants.  Well, it seems that those varieties do better in Lancaster than they do in the Caribbean.  Dee did have some success with the lillies and Barbara posted photos of the blooms on her Facebook page, but the Elephant Ears didn't do as well.  As we walked through the garden today we saw some of the remnants of the Elephant Ears, but we did see a few of the lillies with seed pods that will yield more of those flowers.  Carol told Dee that she waters every day and at times twice a day.  
More seed pods are soon ready.
Could be that the intense heat of the Caribbean sun, along with the lack of rain at times, made it hard for Carol's addition to survive.  Perhaps the second generation of lillies that Dee has started will survive better.  The gardener's green thumb yielded an enjoyable walk for us as we toured his remarkable garden.  Now, as far as the shell flower in Dee's garden, I Googled it to find the full name.  First I typed in "white bloom with pink tip" and didn't recognize any of the results.  Then I tried "white flower with pink tips and yellow center."  Same result.  Then, "white flower with pink tip grown in the Caribbean."  Bingo!  Plant is called a Shell Ginger plant.  I did manage to snap a few photos to share with you of our tour today.  Hope you enjoy them as much as we enjoyed our visit to the gardner's garden.  A big "Thank You" goes out to our friends Barbara and Dee for allowing Carol and me into their home and garden and sharing stories of their life on the island that we have grown to love so much.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. 



Entrance to Barbara and Dee home in Sint Maarten. 
Crown of Thorns plant. 
One of my favorites, the Hibiscus.
The Star Lily. 
The Croton.  As the leaves are struck by sunlight, they begin to change from green to the colors you see here.
A type of Gardenia.  It didn't have the intense smell to it that the plants that Carol has in our garden, but it looked very similar.

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