Posts Tagged ‘African Tulip trees’

The flowers within and mountains beyond.

“I am large; I contain multitudes.” — Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

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When the rains come and the three African Tulip trees (Spathodea campanulata, Tulipán africano, Flame trees, Flame of the Forest) in my apartment complex begin blooming, even grey days are brightened.

As the name suggests, Tulipán africano are native to Africa and I was first captivated by them in the early 1980s when I watched the PBS series, The Flame Trees of Thika, based on the Elspeth Huxley memoir about her early years in Kenya.

Beginning the late 1800s, these ornamental beauties were introduced to other parts of the world — thriving and even becoming invasive in many areas of the tropics.

Bursting with brilliance and providing food and shelter to a multitude of hummingbirds battling for territory and mates, these creations of Mother Nature always beckon me to stop, gaze, and marvel.

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June in Oaxaca city, the mornings are grey.



The sun eventually appears.



Afternoon clouds gather and thunder rumbles in the distance.


African tulip tree

Then darkness descends.


Night blooming cereus

Alas, this June only a minimal amount of rain has fallen.  But the garden endures.

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Last week, a friend of mine in California challenged me to post a nature photo every day for seven days on Facebook.  I had participated in one of these challenges nine months before, posting mostly photos from the countryside.  This time, I decided to acknowledge the gifts that Mother Nature keeps surprising me with in my rooftop terrace garden.


African tulip tree seen from my terrace, July 6, 2016


Neoscona Oaxacensis orb weaver spider, Sept. 9, 2016


Night Blooming Cereus early morning, July 21, 2016


Lesser Goldfinch (I think) on the terrace chain link fence, Nov. 12, 2016


Io moth caterpillar munching on plumeria leaf, Oct. 31, 2016


Hibiscus flower taken Oct. 19, 2016


Agave and Stapelia gigantia early evening, Oct. 24, 2016

And, in the spirit of the season, they are my gifts to you.  Hope you like!



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Muchisimas gracias to all my wonderful blog readers — for reading, for commenting, for sharing, for the opportunity to meet some of you, and for inspiring me to continue.  A look back at Oaxaca scenes that never made it into the blog…

January – Although spring was a couple of months away, the Primavera (Tabebuia chrysotricha) was already in bloom.


February – Cattle car on the carretera outside Tlacolula de Matamoros on Sunday market day.


March – A quiet morning on Monte Albán.


April – Decorating with agave flowers on Easter Sunday in Mitla.


May – Police temporarily remove and replace Sección 22 on the zócalo.


June – Though we arrived hours early for a festival in San Juan Guelavía, the sacred and profane were already present.


July – A favorite view from my terrace, the African tulip trees in full bloom.


August – At Casa Colonial the water lilies and hyacinths were stunning.


September – Cochineal (the “perfect red” dye) exhibition at Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Oaxaca (MACO).


October – Returning from Teotitlán de Valle one morning, a globo was landing near San Mateo Macuilxochitl.


November – On the way to Mercado Hidalgo in Colonia Reforma to buy Thanksgiving groceries, Our Lady of the Wires (?).


December – Rooftop still life in El Centro.


A long, strange, and fascinating trip it continues to be.  As another song says, Próspero año y felicidad!

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Late yesterday afternoon, before the rains came, the African tulip tree in full blush against a sky drained of color…

African tulip tree in full bloom

Half and Half on Mother Nature’s easel in Oaxaca.


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The African Tulip Trees (Árbol del tulipán) are in full leaf and bloom, adding an explosion of greens and red-orange to the view from Casita Colibrí…


… and providing the colibríes (hummingbirds), who give my apartment its name, a home, playground, and 4-star restaurant.

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It may not be Moon Over Parador, but it was moon from my mirador….  The colors of last night’s sunset were spectacular, no matter which way one looked.  It made for a beautiful full moon rising over the African tulip tree and rooftop tinaco of my old apartment.

6:56 PM (CST)

6:56 PM (CST)

6:57 PM (CST)

6:57 PM (CST)

Actually, the moon wasn’t officially full until 9:15 (CST) this morning, but the above was full enough for me!

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On the one hand, headline from today’s New York Times, Viewing U.S in Fear and Dismay.  On the other hand, the view from my balcony.

Red African tulip tree blossom against clear sky.

One of the last African tulip tree blossoms of the season.  Ahhh…

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View from Casita Colibrí yesterday morning.  Ahhh…

Blue sky, African tulip trees in foreground, churches in mid-ground, mountains in distance.

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Oh, what a beautiful morning it was!

Glowing red/orange African tulip tree blossoms in foreground, church domes and bell towers in background against, tops of mountains in distance, against blue sky with bands of fog.

What a difference 10 hours makes.

Red/orange African tulip tree blossoms in foreground, church domes and bell towers in background against gray sky

Moisture from Tropical Storm Isaac being drawn across Oaxaca.  That’s the way the rainy season goes!

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Late yesterday afternoon; outdoor room (aka: my terrace) with a view.  Ahhhhh….

African Red-orange blossoms of African tulip tree in foreground, San Jose church bell towers, and cloud dotted blue sky in background.

And, despite the clouds above, this morning I can report, no rain for 36 hours!

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Way back in the very early 1980s, I was captivated by the PBS series, The Flame Trees of Thika, based on the Elspeth Huxley memoir, by the same name, about her early years in Kenya.

African Tulip tree reddish orange blossoms

We had a black and white TV back then and so, if they even showed the “Flame Trees,” they never “registered.

African Tulip tree reddish orange blossoms

However, here I am in Oaxaca, Mexico and I’ve got two African Tulip Trees (aka, Flame of the Forest) hovering over my terrace, bursting with color, providing a modicum of shade, feeding the hummingbirds, and adding to the enchantment of Casita Colibrí.

African Tulip tree reddish orange blossoms

There was something about the sky, the light, and the trees this morning…

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Church bells and scorpions; I must be back in my new home.

My return to Oaxaca was long and bumpy, with thunderstorms populating almost the entire trip.  A rocky ride was had by all.  The pint-size Embraer landed at 11 pm — pretty late for Oaxaca’s little airport.  However, as we alighted from the plane, the land crew provided welcoming umbrellas to protect us from the downpour, as we dashed across the blackened tarmac to the terminal.  With luggage retrieved, green light received, and boleto purchased, I jumped into the waiting and wonderful white airport van.

First to be dropped off, I pulled and dragged my suitcases up the two flights of stairs (trying not to awaken my sure-to-be sleeping neighbors along the way) and into the waiting embrace of Casita Colibrí, only to be greeted by carpenter’s tools strewn about and my bathroom door off its hinges — evidence of a project that was 2/3rds completed when I left six weeks before.  Not a problem, I told myself.  Then, my toilet wouldn’t flush.  No big deal, I told myself.  However (drum roll, please), when I came face-to-face with a scorpion in my bathroom sink, that WAS a problem!

I tried to be a “grownup” but it was my first real live scorpion and it totally freaked me out.   Eventually, I managed to send it on its way to the big alacrán casa in the sky.  I will spare you the details but suffice it to say, among other things, it involved saran wrap and duct tape.  Scorpions tend to carry on their scorpion business at night and, needless to say, sleep has not come easily since my close encounter.  However, like a good former reference librarian, I’ve done my research and discovered that the sting of the local variety of scorpion may be painful but is generally not deadly to healthy adults, lavender is used in France as a repellent, and people in the US Southwest report success using cedar oil to keep these creepy creatures out.  Now to find one or both…   In the interim, I reluctantly purchased and used one of several toxic sprays found on Soriana’s shelves — moderate peace of mind must be achieved if I am to get a good night’s sleep!

It took almost a week, but unpacking has finally been completed, suitcases stored, apartment has been tidied, carpenter has put my bathroom door back on, I’ve  fixed my toilet, and the pantry has been restocked.   I again awake to church bells chiming, geckos chirping, and colibrís zipping across my terrace.  My African Tulip trees are in bloom…

… and tonight I’m going to watch the Guerreros de Oaxaca play the Piratas de Campeche with my best friend in Oaxaca!  It’s good to be home…

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