I believe the Bougainvillea is my favourite plant here. Its vibrant masses of bracts that can be pink, magenta, purple, or deep red, keep me in jaw-dropping awe. I’ve read that there’s also a yellow variety, but I’ve yet to see one of those. A close-up of the intricate, masterful design of the paper-thin bracts surrounding the tiny white flowers solidifies its top spot on my favourites list.

Native to South America, the Bougainvillea is the national flower of both Grenada and Guam. It was first discovered by the French botanist Philibert Commerson in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in the 1760s. The name Bougainvaillea was named after his friend sailor Louis de Bougainville.

It’s also very prolific here in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, where stands of them line the roadways and enhance gardenscapes. The bushes can spread up to 10ft wide and up to 6 ft tall or they can be trained to climb trellises. They’re drought tolerant, love the sun, and bloom almost year round here.

There’s a large bush not far from our house. I’m going to ask the owner if I can take a stem to try to start one of my own. This sounds like another independent plant that I can manage.

“Bougainvillea is one of the finest plants in the world. It has been called ‘the flowering wonder’; and rightly so, for no other plant can be compared to it. I have seen them covering an entire house from ground to roof with their flamboyant tracery of color.”

James H. McWilliams