Lodge Garden

Bromeliads are typical plants of the New World with most of their species being found in the tropical and sub-tropical latitudes of the Americas. They inhabit almost all ecosystems found in the region ranging in altitude from sea level to over 4,000 metres.

Bromeliad laden tree (©Sue Healey)
Bromeliad laden tree (© Sue Healey)

The Reserva Ecológica de Guapiaçu in the Mata Atlântica or Brazilian Atlantic Forest covers altitudes between 30 metres and 2,000 metres. The rainfall here is high and where sea breezes from the coast meet the mountains, the air is forced up the steep slopes. As this air cools it causes the vapour to condense and a fog is created by the suspended water droplets. This creates an ideal environment for all native plants here, particularly bromeliads.

We have gradually been developing the garden at the Guapiaçu Bird Lodge in the REGUA reserve and the orchid and bromeliad posts can always house fallen plants. Bromeliads fill with rainwater and on heavily laden weaker boughs this often proves too much weight for the branch to bear. Then the branch, complete with their ecosystem, comes crashing to the ground.

Raquel Locke (co-director of the project) is always watching the lower altitude areas of the Reserve for possible specimens and had noticed a huge bough had fallen off an epiphyte-laden tree. The branch had landed in a shallow muddy pond and our challenge was to rescue the plants. Hence Raquel and I ended up in the pouring rain, up to our ankles in mud rescuing some excellent specimens.

Sidnei & Jake
Sidnei & Jake (© Sue Healey)

As we moved the plants, amphibians jumped away to find new homes in remaining plants on the tree. Where possible we took the broken bits of the tree with us so as to preserve the rooting system and give the plants the best chance of survival.

Back at the lodge Sidney (head gardener) and Jake (volunteer) had the task of placing the plants and wiring them into position safely. Within two hours their work was completed, and a brilliant job had been done.

Our guests now have a beautiful garden to welcome them, and the hummingbirds in the garden were inspecting the flowers, delighted to have a new source of nectar to call on.