Coming from Europe we are well used to what changing seasons do to the landscape and more precisely to trees. Fresh sprouts and blooming flowers in spring, fruits in summer, falling leaves in autumn and the naked branches in winter.
But what happens with forests when there are no seasons?
In the North East of Costa Rica, where we started our trip, there are tropical dry forests. No, I am not making it up. Yes, it can be tropical and dry. They basically respond to two seasons, dry and wet. During the dry season, many trees will lose almost all the leaves. As in the European or Northern hemisphere winter. In the wet season, we were told that the trees have an accelerated version of spring and summer in the Northern hemisphere: new leaves, flowers, fruits…monkeys and birds come and eat all, spread the seeds and…its dry season again.
But that was the North of Costa Rica.
Here in the South of Costa Rica we have tropical lowland wet forest. It basically means that it receives rain the entire year. If we add that the temperatures remain equally high all year round, then the result is that most trees have leaves all year round – and drop them all the time. But the different species do not flower at the same time. So, how do the trees know that it is time to sprout some flowers, grow some fruits and rest? Maybe they don’t. Or maybe they do not adjust to seasons but to the migratory patterns of seed carrier mammals or pollinating insects or birds?
Anyway, the chromatic outcome is spectacular: a whole green tropical forest painted here and the in pink, yellow or white. As in a postcard.
But the most interesting thing (for me) is how the different rhythms of the trees intertwine with the wildlife in the garden. Flowers and berries are the hit parade in the animal kingdom. If you have one tree with small fruits, as we do have, you will have an endless stream of birds and monkeys feeding on it. The photos below are of just ONE tree
So much that after some days, you wonder if there is anything left. And then … the same tree starts flowering again! Look at the photo below, the new flowers are coming out while there are some berries left from the previous cycle which are still attracting birds.
It really makes us think about how our ideal garden could look like. We need heliconias and verbenas for the hummingbirds. And several trees like the ones that we have in the garden, with berries.
We need a couple of nut trees and avocado trees for the macaws.
And not the least, some trees for the hominidus vulgaris quarentensis. The male of the species seems to have a preference for mangos, while the female of the species fancies papayas and bananas. In this respect, they do not compete for the same tree. We have observed both genders to feed regularly on pineapples, water apples, water melon and melon. So, we will need to make sure there is abundance of those if we want them to stick around. For the moment, the garden has plenty…