Moving into any new house, one of the important tasks is to stock the new home with houseplants. In our case, we have a yard for the first time in many years, and so we're also adding some new outdoor plants. Since this is my first time in the tropics, I'm finding the distinction between houseplants and outdoor plants is quite different from places with more extreme weather fluctuations like Canada and Dubai. Most of the plants that would only survive indoors are of course outdoor plants here, and many things that would be completely hopeless in Canada are possible - like my two new lime trees!
Here in Jakarta, we are extremely fortunate to have Joko - who is a master gardener - as one of our housekeepers. In a few short weeks, he's taken the neglected yard of our new home and transformed it into a lovely tropical oasis. He also kindly accompanies me on my plant-buying forays, both to help me make suitable choices and as a translator and expert negotiator. I've even come to be able to read his looks, from "that's way too expensive", to "no way I'm taking care of that ridiculous princess of a plant".
Like with many commercial enterprises in Jakarta, plants are often sold from sidewalk vendors. And the sidewalk vendors here are no fly-by-night hucksters - the shops take up kilometres of roadside, with dozens of permanent shops set up. Our first round of plants came from several of these vendors, but for round two, our driver found a much better place to shop. After a typically long and confusing drive, he pulled into a lot behind the Jakarta Zoo and revealed a huge area filled with covered greenhouses all bursting with tropical foliage. We learned that this is where the roadside vendors go to get their plants, so of course the prices were much lower.
We browsed and negotiated, finally leaving with a carload: two 4" schefflera plants, a palm-y thing, three hanging plants for the water feature, 2 little lime trees, and two 6" Japanese bamboo plants for the back deck. All this broke the bank at about $30CAD. (We'd paid more than that for one bougainvillea at the roadside shop).
This is Ree from Jogjakarta. She helped us choose plants at Syam Orchid, and was properly polite as we shopped, but became giggly and friendly when I asked if I could take her picture. She thought it was funny that I asked her to stand next to the orchids that matched her scarf - I think "sama sama warna" means "same color" in Bahasa Indonesia, but she and her helper had a good old giggle at me. She shook my hand, asked me where I'm from and we parted friends.
Now we're back home and the latest acquisitions are getting planted. I hit a few of the roadside vendors for pots today, but sadly cracked them on the way home - I guess they were so cheap for a reason. At least the hanging plants are in, the lime trees are planted, and the bamboos seem to be doing fine in their pots. Just need to find some more solid accommodations for the indoor guys and we're set! Until next time, of course. Joko promised we could get some pretty orchids next time we're planning a party...