A Bonaire Christmas!

an illustration representing a tropical Christmas scene

How about a Tropical Island Christmas? It can be a lot of fun to remember your favorite tropical destination, then apply a Christmas theme.

(This article was first published in The Gateway Gardener Nov/Dec 2011 issue)

Text and Photos By Ellen Barredo

an illustration representing a tropical Christmas sceneHow about a Tropical Island Christmas? It can be a lot of fun to remember your favorite tropical destination, then apply a Christmas theme. Start by looking through a photo album of a favorite tropical trip. My favorite tropical trip was to Bonaire. Bonaire is a small island located in the southern Caribbean and it has a semi-desert landscape. Bonaire is known for its pioneering role in the preservation of nature and the preservation of the marine environment. It is surrounded by coral reefs and is a scuba diving destination.

While visiting Bonaire, I took notice of the many plants used in the residential and commercial landscapes. The islands’ rainy season is October through December, and the rest of the year can be dry. Therefore many of the plants I saw must survive through long periods of drought.

What plants did I see?

Poinsettia – This beautiful holiday plant is a common foundation shrub in Bonaire and it happens to be one of my favorite holiday plants! To start, simply choose the color that works best in your home. Consider several sizes.

Crotons – Another common foundation shrub used in Bonaire is the croton! Bright a photo of a croton plantbeautiful foliage and color shapes are found in this plant family! Pick your favorite one to add to your tropical Christmas décor.

Grasses – Small pots of grasses can also be used in combination with poinsettias and crotons. These grasses can also be faux painted in greens, reds, whatever works with your color theme.

Palms – Island thoughts equal palm trees! Do you already have a palm? Simply cut a few fronds off and spray paint with a coordinating color from the croton and poinsettia. Once dry tuck the colored fronds back into the palm. You can also use painted fronds in wreaths and garland indoors.

a photograph of an autograph plant (Clusia)Autograph Plant – Also known as Clusia is another foundation shrub and is especially found in commercial plantings beachside.  The Clusias leaves are very broad and tough. The leaf makes a perfect surface to scratch your name into; hence your party guests could “autograph” their best wish for the 2011holiday season!

Tillandsia Balls – I saw Tillandsias a photo of tillandsia balls decorating a blue spruceeverywhere in Bonaire. Tillandsia can be displayed in glass vessels. Start with coarse sand, add colored ornaments, shells, and toss in a few Tillandsias. Tillandsias also can be found in a ball or ornament shape and could be placed on a tree.

Holiday postcards, flamingos, fish ornaments, shells, hurricane glass, sand candles and white lights…the list of items/objects you may have seen on a trip that can be added to the accessories is endless.

Merry Tropical Christmas!

Ellen Barredo is a Missouri Certified Nursery Professional with more than 29 years in professional horticulture. She works at Bowood Farms and can be reached at (314) 454-6868 or visit BowoodFarms.com.