The joy of gardening on Bonaire


After a wearing and long construction period my house was finally done in the spring of 2008.
The garden was completely vacant, so I could start from scratch.
Before the construction started the terrain had been “cleaned” with a bulldozer, a bad habit of most construction companies on Bonaire. There was nothing left, even the bushes and small trees outside the construction area were gone and I had to start all over again. In hindsight, I should have prevented it, but I did not think about it at the time. Before my career switch, I used to work in an office and in my view gardens are places to sit in, designed and laid out by others. But now I suddenly discovered I had twelve hundred square meters of barren ground. Big enough to make a park!

Marijke pruning the first tree right after it was planted

I was lucky to have Marijke Wilhelmus as a very good friend. Gardening is one of her passions and she helped me shaping my thoughts. Together we designed the tropical garden. Well, together… my input was that I wanted mainly local trees and plants, Marijke and her son Clark – who is a landscape architect – took care of the remaining 95% of the designing process. The result: a shrub garden on the north and west side of my house, a tree garden in the east and a succulent rock garden on the south side.

Pete the gardener

Coincidence does not exist. So I was not surprised to meet Pete, an American gardener looking for work, on my New Years party. He started the second next day and with the help of friends my garden was laid out in three months. How small these plants and trees were! Grow you bastards! I told them every morning, because I

heard talking to your plants really helps. And it did! Man, I cannot believe how fast plants are growing on Bonaire, especially if you water them with a drip system in the dry season. With the lessons of Marijke and Clark my ignorance of gardening rapidly declined. I can tell you, it really is fun when everything is growing so well! Not even two years it took the two foot Flamboyants to grow 18 feet tall. The Bonchi Kabai (Black Coral Tree) are even taller. And even the slow growing Tamarinds and Mahok (Mahogany) are growing fantastically.

The rock garden took a bit longer. Succulents don’t need a lot of water, thus the succulents are not on drip. But last year we had so much rain in the rainy season that the succulent garden exploded! Now I am a bit jealous of the guests in my Sea View Apartment downstairs. They have the better view on my botanical rock garden with the Hummingbirds eating from the flowers of the aloe right up to their doorstep.

The shrub garden is a jungle that needs regular pruning already. Every morning I sit on my front porch with my morning tea and enjoy the flowers, the fragrances, the birds and the butterflies. A perfect way to start the day.

About thebonaireblogger

Eight years ago, after a career switch from Tax Lawyer to Dive Master, I moved to Bonaire. It was the best career move I ever made. Not for the money, mind you, but my well-being was lifted to top level. Arriving on Bonaire for the first time felt like arriving home. After living on the island for a couple of years, it still felt the same and I decided to stay there. I designed a house, had it built, and three years ago I moved in. In this blog I want to share why Bonaire is so special for me.
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4 Responses to The joy of gardening on Bonaire

  1. 1988????????? Goh, was jouw huis toen al klaar?

  2. Oeps, dat heb ik maar snel gecorrigeerd!

  3. Mea says:

    Geweldig Wiets, wat leuk, zo’n blog! voor mij de 1e keer dat ik er een bezoek, dus goed voor m’n digitale ontwikkeling. Kan nie wachte tot juni!
    Kussie van zussie

  4. Wim Koopman says:

    The vieuw over the island and the sea was already amazing. After my stay in november your garden had a remerkable change : all kinds of flowers down there. So a very nice vieuw is added to someting that seemed not to be improvable. Wow!
    I am anxious to see it all when we meet in June.

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