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Gardening

A City in Full Bloom

Jacaranda trees
Jacaranda trees on Kenyatta Avenue in Nairobi on October 16, 2018. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU  

Nothing quite captivates the eye or soothes a weary soul like a beautiful lawn or a street with lush green foliage dotted with colourful blooms of different shapes and sizes.

Nairobi’s flowering trees are in full bloom this October, if you have noticed. The explosion of flowers in yellow, pink, white, fuchsia, red on trees planted on streets, parks and estates are adding bountiful beauty to the city.

The jacarandas, which are everywhere, the red Illawara flame tree, the African tuliptrees with its orange flowers and oleanders, which blooms in white, red and pink are mood boosters and energisers after a tired day, rainy weather or scorching sun.

Here are some of the amazing plants that bloom in October and that can turn your home into a little paradise.

Jacaranda

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This is the biggest eye-catcher now. Almost in all outdoor settings, the jacaranda tree is in full bloom, painting the once green city under the sun in hues of purple.

While this might give sweepers quite some work, the purple blooms are a remarkable sight and a reminder of how beautiful Nairobi can be. Photos taken now with the jacaranda in the background will most probably seem vintage in the few months to come, as the blooms will disappear soon.

The tree belongs to the shrub family and ranges in size from 20 to 30 metres. Its pinnate leaves are what Kenyans are used to across the year and its conspicuous five-lobed blue to purple-blue come to break the monotony.

Some species of the jacaranda have white flowers.

Illawarra flame tree

Talk of red splendour! This tree is native to Australia and is famous for the bright red bell-shaped flowers that often cover the whole tree when it sheds its leaves. The leaves drop after the dry season, giving way to the spectacular flowers that cover the entire tree.

Flowers are scarlet bells with five partially fused petals.

The tree, which usually grows to about 20 metres, tolerates temperate climates and is now cultivated world-over for its beauty.

However, it can reach the maximum height of 40 metres if grown in the original, warmer, habitat.

The Illawarra Flame tree makes a wonderful focal-point tree or screening plant for larger gardens.

While these medium sized trees tend to be a little slow growing, they will withstand long periods of drought.

Agapanthus

By mid-October, the strikingly beautiful leaves and balls of richly coloured flowers of the agapanthus begin to carpet the landscape.

The flower, also known as African lily, makes a fantastic fitting in bouquets, as a potted plant and can easily survive outdoors, with its cobalt-blue, purple and white colour spreading fast, giving a garden an exotic look. Owing to its beauty, the flower is mostly loved outdoors.

When punned, the agapanthus breathes easy and develops the need to flower.
The beauty with Agapanthus, a Greek name meaning flower of love, is that they are low maintenance compared to roses and do not require a greenhouse or irrigation.

Oleander

For its showy and funnel-shaped blooms, Kenyan home gardeners and landscapers love this evergreen shrub.

The flowers bloom in clusters at the twig tips between September and October and come in shades of white, pink, red, or yellow.

In certain instances, the plant regarded as highly toxic, lets out pleasant fragrances.
Oleanders typically grow to between six and 12 feet tall, with a spread of the same width, but some may be trained to grow into small trees that reach up to 20 feet tall.

But when it is young, its stem attracts houseflies, so you have to spay pesticides. It also has to be trained to grow upright by tying it and intertwining more than one tree.

Lucerne tree

This evergreen tree from the pea family is also known as the tagasaste. It may now look so showy but its white flowers bloom during the early rainy season, typically June to October.

While the plant is valued forage (because of high protein content) for ruminants, flowering changes its palatability.

Upon flowering the leaf becomes less palatable and the bark more palatable. This results in stock stripping bark off the trunk.

Also the growth rate of the plant slows and leaves will be shed.

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