Garden Photo of the Day

Annita’s garden and nurserywork in NIGERIA!

Photo/Illustration: All photos courtesy of Annita Nguemo Aondona

We all know that Jeff Calton (tntreeman) is a talker, and loves interacting with everyone here. I think that gave Annita Nguemo Aondona the courage to reach out to him, and they’ve been corresponding for a while now. Annita gardens in Nigeria, and was nervous to send photos into the GPOD when she compared her work to all of your beautiful gardens, but Jeff knew I’d be interested (I’m a sucker for overseas posts!), and passed along her photos and info. Annita and I finally got in touch last week, and now you get to get a glimpse of her amazing work in Nigeria!

Annita says, “My name is Annita Nguemo Aondona. I live in Makurdi, Benue state Nigeria. I started gardening as a hobby just a few years ago and work at a tree nursery. I’m particularly fond of any plant that flowers or can bring colour to any spot its planted. The weather here in Makurdi is very peculiar in that its mostly hot and humid year round with a spell of dryness around this time of the year, so it limits what flowers actually do well. I particularly love using containers at home cause they are easy to care for.

“This is a mix of photos taken at home and at work. The green fruit on the ground are fruits of the Gmelina arborea tree, popularly known as malina. The pots are stacked under a malina tree for the shade it provides and so we do get them in our other plants occasionally. Malina trees, though an exotic species, are very common and used mainly for timber here. The young shoots are sourced for medicinal purposes. The leaves also make good fodder for livestock. At the nursery we collect the seeds and bury them in small heaps. They begin to sprout after three weeks after which we transplant into polyethene pots which are then sold to mainly plantation owners or used for our own afforestation projects.

“Transporting these seedlings is usually a messy job so what we do is if the permanent site isn’t far we rebag them in larger bags with a covering of soil to protect the roots. I have only seen seedlings in plastic pots in books and on the net and I guess we wouldn’t be able to afford it anyway but I recently planted some sweet pea seeds (for the first time) in some plastic disposable cups in my own nursery and I’m anxious to see how they turn out…….

“I have three ladies who work as nursery attendants and even though they don’t have any formal training or tuition, they are brilliant gardeners and exceptional on the job. I basically learnt everything I know about plants from them. … I have always loved flowers and appreciated nature so I majored in Biology but didn’t really see myself in horticulture till a few years back and now I wondered how I managed without gardening all these years. My only drawback is that I haven’t enough green area to garden in my home.”

It’s so exciting to see all of this, Annita. Your containers are beautiful, and the nursery is fascinating. Please do keep sending photos. We’d love to see more!

**** I’m still looking for photos, everyone! While I’ve got a bunch of great submissions in reserve, I can always use more. We’re heading into winter, when GPOD submission tend to be a bit scarce. If you still want to see a new and exciting garden every single weekday in your inbox, do your part and show us YOUR garden! You can email photos to either [email protected] or [email protected] Be sure to tell me where you live and tell me a bit about yourself and your garden. And the more photos the better! Thanks!! ****

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View Comments


  1. user-1020932 12/11/2013

    this starts my day off with a BIG smile, Annita. i'm glad your work and story is here today so everyone can see things going on in your area and i love the fact that your tree nursery is fighting deforestation in Nigeria. i also really like the photos of your helpers and the one of you, it's so nice to put a face with the words and photos and Annita, i really want that watering can in the photo next to you! thanks for all your correspondence, stories and photos it's always a highlight when i find them in my Inbox. and yes, Michelle ,,,,,,,,i'm a talker and a jokester

  2. gloriaj 12/11/2013

    Like Michelle, I am interested in gardens from overseas. I like seeing that some of the gardens have the same plants that I have like the coleus, the lantana, roses and many other I saw in Anita's garden. Her containers are healthy and displayed well. Anita the use of the watering was very creative. Keep sending photos, as I would love to see more and I am glad for the information you provided with the photos.
    I don't think Jeff realizes how much he is so well needed here, I know in my own case it was because of Jeff that I decide to send in photos of my own garden. I was so nervous with others seeing my garden in comparison to other gardens I have seen. From following GPOD for a number of years I knew Jeff and I are early risers, so his comment would be the first. He put me at ease with his comments so I was ready for the rest. Another I like is that he remember each of us as if we next door neighbors such as he remembered my concern about my fig tree. Thanks Jeff. Love ya don't ever change

  3. user-1020932 12/11/2013

    gloriaj, those are the nicest things you said about me and i do appreciate it. we are all neighbors we just don't live nearby each other and yes i'm an early riser. i gotta get up early to start talking! i'm glad i (unknowingly) encouraged you to submit your garden photos . i like seeing everyones garden efforts no matter the scale and diversity and i have learned SO much here from the comments and the photos and not only about plants. this isn't just a blog it's a community and Michelle is the Mayor

  4. Miyako 12/11/2013

    Thank you, michelle for creating and maintaining the community, and Jeff for being such an amazing contributor.
    Anita, your pictures are beautiful. And shows the impact of gardens and plants... Universal.
    I can see your love as your plants look happy and well cared for, and I am very inspired. Thank you for sharing.

  5. gloriaj 12/11/2013

    I feel the same way you do Jeff. Keep it up. Michelle is the truly the mayor

  6. Doxnmom 12/11/2013

    Just beautiful and fascinating! The most beautiful flowers are the ladies and their colorful dresses. The green is the perfect background for them. Thank you so much for sharing!

  7. User avater
    meander_michaele 12/11/2013

    Hi, Annita, thank you so much for sharing your story and pictures with us. I enlarged each one because I wanted to see as many of the small details as possible...I'm a homebody so I only travel internationally via pictures.
    Your nursery looks very productive and I am very impressed with how much thought goes into making such good use of the malina tree during all stages of its lifetime.
    Your coleus is glorious and that particular leaf color is one of my favorites. I'm so glad you followed Jeff's encouragement to share your gardening passion with us.
    Even on the dreariest days, Jeff shows up on gpod like a ray of sunshine and makes every day the better for his upbeat comments and generous sharing of knowledge.

  8. greenthumblonde 12/11/2013

    Great submission. Beautiful work. It's always so humbling to see the challenges of other climates on gardeners and the clever ways people develop to "outsmart" natures challenges. I'm working on my skills now in the mid-Florida region and this post is really helpful. Reminds me we can make beauty anywhere. Arid. Or wet and humid. Or both in the same region.

  9. Plantstuff 12/11/2013

    Annita thanks for sending in your pictures. The nursery looks like a beautiful place to take a stroll through. Your roses look beautiful. I am a lover of roses, they botanically speak volumes. Love, peace, innocence, I could go on. Fellow gardeners you should never be afraid of sending in pictures of your gardens. Not all gardens are of public space and size and have a staff of 20. Our home gardens reflect who we are and most important bring us fun, sometimes challenges and a lot of times provide us with healing powers that are needed to get us through any struggles that we face in our daily lives. Everyone keep pictures coming. I love the view with my morning coffee.

  10. flowerladydi 12/11/2013

    Good morning Annita,

    I must agree with what everyone else is saying, in so many ways,,, first of all, it is just so great that you are sharing with us!,,, what you are doing is fabulous,,, and the best is the love that you and the ladies have for it! I love what Doxnmom said about ' the most beautiful flowers are the ladies and their colorful dresses',,, so true!,,, please send more as you can,,,, and secondly to echo others again here,,, Thank you Jeff and Michelle,,, for you are both so instrumental in making us all feel like true artists,,,,, encouraging and excited about everything we post.
    This is truly a warm friendly place to be 1st thing in the morning with coffee.,, or anytime!
    Again,,, I truly enjoyed your photos Annita,,, what are those fabulous peeling trees???

  11. GardenersWK 12/11/2013

    Thanks Michelle and Jeff for this post!
    Anita, thank you for your pictures! Your plants look very healthy and happy! My favorite picture is the one with you between the plants!
    Humbling and Inspiring for me this morning!

  12. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 12/11/2013

    What an amazing treat this morning! Wonderful photos, plants, and nursery beds. Stunning portrait. I am glad to see that you speak the international language of "coleus"! Now, what blog do I go to in order to see "Nigerian fabric of the day"? :)

  13. Quiltingmamma 12/11/2013

    Annita, thank you for your contribution, and I love your portrait. I have spent time in Tanzania and the nursery photos are so indicative of any spare land - even roadside - where folks nurture seedlings and consciously make an effort to reforest. I think our overseas submissions help to nurture the global love of gardening, and also global unity.
    I am with Vojt. Let's hear it for 'Nigerian fabric of the day'.

  14. bee1nine 12/11/2013

    Hi Annita, Wonderful to capture a portrait of you and your
    happily growing plants with greetings from Nigeria!
    My worthy compliments to you that you grow Malina trees from
    seed! This also prompt my curiosity to learn more about them.
    So I looked on the web. Very fascinating and highly useful, are these trees. (from utilization and meditional uses). A
    welcome learning bit of info.

    ...And to you Michelle and Jeff!

  15. M_Fox 12/11/2013

    A beautiful garden tended with care. It is wonderful to people from all over the world taking care of God's earth.

  16. SisGof5 12/11/2013

    Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful! I agree with quiltingmama...the fabric is gorgeous! Your clothing becomes part of the garden. Just gorgeous.

  17. bee1nine 12/11/2013

    Hi! Just me again. ...Must make a correction on a word I misspelled. It should read- MEDICINAL (not meditional) Sorry!

  18. DonnaJones 12/11/2013

    What fun to see your beautiful plants! Thank you for sharing. Gardening is truly the universal language ,shared and loved by people all over the world!

  19. gardenerme12 12/11/2013

    Annita, the most beautiful flowers in your garden are the ladies and their beautiful clothes! I can see all the hard work in what you do and the result is glorious. My favorite is also the coleus, with the pink rose a close second. Keep going and keep showing us what you do. Thank you!

  20. janetsfolly 12/11/2013

    Thank you, Annita! Your post brought a big smile to my face. Your pretty containers(especially that old watering can of impatiens), the lush green nursery, the hard work you're all doing for forestation and best of all, the pics of your ladies and yourself! I agree that they are the 'flowers' of these gardens... I've always had a weakness for native textiles as they seem so connected to the earth and our local flora. These are some of the loveliest I've seen. Thanks again for sharing your story and photos!
    And thanks, too, to Michelle and Jeff and all who make this such a special gang!

  21. wildthyme 12/11/2013

    Annita, thank you so much for sharing your garden with us! Your love of gardening clearly shows (but how do you keep your fingernails so clean!?!). It is fun to see how some plants like coleus, oxalis, roses, are universal among gardeners. But what are the delicate pink flowers in the next to the last photo in the right-hand column? I would love to hear more about your gardening challenges, for example, do you also do your vegetable gardening in containers?

  22. annek 12/11/2013

    Annita, you've opened your gardening heart to share with GPOD and the responses have been no less than stellar. We LOVE your nursery. As gardening tends to be, you've captured the peaceful and therapeutic qualities of working in the out of doors. From the vibrant red of your coleus to the charming pots (I'll arm wrestle you for the watering can , Jeff) you've pulled together a wonderful nursery design. I respect all the hard work you and your assistants have poured into your nursery to produce the Malina tree. Oh, and the composition of your photographs is lovely!

    A big thanks to Jeff for nurturing this maturing community of gardeners and friends, and of course, to Mayor have created a wonderful adventure for folks around the globe to learn, share and marvel at the abilities of individual artistry and expression. Was that too sappy? Doesn't matter, I truly feel that way. Thanks to all!

    PS: Annita, what is the lovely little white "grass" flower in the pot third photo down on the left.

  23. Happily_Gardening 12/11/2013

    I don't comment often, instead am content to sit back and admire the undying determination of fellow gardeners and the beauty they reap from their efforts. But reading how far Annita has come in courage to show her lovely gardening and story, I just had to say, "I applaud you Annita for a job well done"! I'd like to echo the words of the many wonderful folk who grace GPOD daily - "thank you Michelle for all you do to make this a wonderful community and Jeff too for his down to earth goodness-ness" (is that a word, well I don't care it fits).

  24. GrannyMay 12/11/2013

    Thank you Anita! It is wonderful to see how other gardeners bring beauty into their areas and very interesting to hear how they cope with their particular challenges. We learn so much by sharing.... I would never have imagined that you could grow roses in your area! Congratulations for doing a great job and I hope you will keep sharing with us.

    I have to agree that you, Jeff, are an outstanding enabler in this great family of garden enthusiasts. It is VERY intimidating to put your garden and your pictures out there. But we all know that Jeff will be there early to support and encourage us. And make us smile! Thank you!!! And thank you Michelle!

  25. sheila_schultz 12/11/2013

    Annita, your gentle smile says it all... you love nurturing the land, and it shows with every beautiful flower and healthy seedling surrounding you. What a gift to the land and to everyone that walks into your nursery that you chose horticulture as your profession! You probably know that I'm passionate about container gardening, and I must tell you that yours are especially lovely. Isn't it wonderful to be able to surround yourself with tiny bits of beauty?
    I so admire your strength and resolve to fight deforestation in Nigeria. Your work makes a difference. Please continue to send photos to GPOD. You are not only our new friend, you are also our teacher. Thank you!
    Michelle and Jeff, you both have my heartfelt thanks for all that you continue to give us on a daily basis.

  26. pattyspencer 12/11/2013

    How exciting to see someone's garden that lives so very far away! I even recognize some of the plants - woohoo - and that makes the world not quite so big. Beautiful!! Thank you so much for taking that leap of faith and sharing your garden with us.

  27. GrannyCC 12/11/2013

    Thank you Annita for those wonderful pictures and all the information on the trees you grow for reforestation. I particularly like the lovely picture of you. Please keep sharing. It is a wonderful way to start off the day.

  28. PamWittenberg 12/11/2013

    This garden makes Nigeria seem not so far away after all. The plant babies look so content in their nursery. Plants aside, the beautiful clothing is in many ways more captivating. Makes my jeans and muddy boots seem so wrong...! Beautiful pics and plants and people!

  29. greengenes 12/11/2013

    What can I say that everyone hasn't said! Iam so happy for you, Annita! What a great job! Iam glad to see a picture of you! It seems that all gardeners have this special glow about us! The malina tree is a wonderful tree! I noticed the crown of thorns in your picture. We grow them here in Washington state as a house plant. they are so easy to propagate. I enjoyed seeing your nursery and your helpers. They too must really enjoy what they do! Thanks so much for sending in these awesome pictures and it makes is seem like you are just down the road! We who garden are like a flower of the earth, always beautiful at every stage of growth!

  30. MichelleGervais 12/11/2013

    Annita, Jeff, and I are definitely feeling the love today! Thanks so much, everyone. Right back atcha!

  31. tractor1 12/11/2013

    Oh my, a Nat Geo moment! I love to learn about far away lands, and I'm happy to hear that reforestation is going well in Nigeria as so much valuable timber has been clear cut worldwide, and unfortunately still. Annita, you are doing a wonderfully good deed with your propagating trees, and your personal gardening is fabulous as well. Thank you fore your good work and for sharing... please send more photos, and those wide angle photos are telling the story well.

    I must say that Jeff is the Mayor, and I have always thought of Michelle as GPOD's Judge Judy.

  32. cwheat000 12/11/2013

    It is amazing this blog is read so far away. I am so happy you shared your garden/nursery. Everything is lovely. You should never have been embarrassed. It is so interesting to learn what is growing somewhere else. You sparked my curiosity and I learned a little more about Nigeria this morning. Your climate would be a challenge with my gardening knowledge, but would have unique options not available here in Connecticut. I am guessing you are hot and dry right now with 12 hour days. I have below freezing temps with snow on the ground and 9 hour days. It was also interesting to learn how rapidly your economy and population are expanding. I had no idea Nigeria was the 7th most populated country. To everyone who has posted photos the last couple weeks, sorry if I missed your day. I have been quite busy with holiday events, decorating and selling Christmas trees at work. I have had some long days out in the cold lifting and spinning hundreds of trees, but it has been a lot of fun.I have been checking back and there have been some great gardens. Surrinder's indoor garden was quite something, also. I just read tractor1's reply to me. Thank you for more info on your spruces. How fortunate you are to inherit 60 year old trees. It is statistically possible I will see my plantings 60 years from now, but not likely. They are just wonderful. Thank you for the invite as well. When I am in the area, I think that would be fun. The invite is always open here in ct for tractor 1 and all the gpod'ers. Happy holiday wishes to everyone.

  33. cwheat000 12/11/2013

    P.S.- I also want to join the chorus of thanking Jeff. We love you man! Question for Michelle, since not much is growing outside right now, would pictures of our live Christmas trees be acceptable? I am thinking of how nice my mom's tree turned out. She got a beautiful noble fir and decorated it with a woodland theme, including Ilex veticillata and miscanthus cuttings.

  34. cwheat000 12/11/2013

    Anyone have any tips on how to photograph a Christmas tree well?

  35. tractor1 12/11/2013

    cwheat000: Don't let time deter you from planting Norway spruce, it grows remarkably fast, and they look wonderful at any age, in fact I like their look best at 10-15 years, very symetrical. They are a very large tree so be sure to give them lots of growing room... 10 years is about their outer limit for use as an indoor Christmas tree. I planted a "Fat Albert" Colorado blue spruce near the road in my front yard six years ago, it was under 4', now it's about 12', too tall this year for me to string lights to the top... I have a 12' step ladder I use to clean my gutters but not only is that tree tall, it also grew too wide to place the ladder close enough for me to reach the upper branches. Norway spruce grows a lot faster than Colorado spruce. However I don't let time deter me from planting any tree, I know that no matter what I plant it's for the future generations, but I get to enjoy watching them grow while I'm still here... perhaps some folks will remember who planted them.

    As for photographing Christmas trees a lot depends on if it's growing outdoors or its a cut tree indoors... and what effect you're looking for, lit at night or day time photos. I suggest taking lots of photos under different lighting conditions and then choose those you like best... if outdoors remember not to shoot into the sun, if indoors during day time remember to not shoot into an open window, even at night draw the shades or the flash will reflect off the glass and wash out the photo. Remember the photos a few days ago of all those indoor hanging plants, the house decor photographed okay but the plants were all dark with no detail from shooting into those windows and skylights, I'd have taken those photos at night with a flash and at an angle to the glass and drawn shades over as many of those windows as possible.

    Plant trees!

  36. MichelleGervais 12/11/2013

    I would LOVE to do a gallery of your Christmas trees!! Send them!

  37. palmgirl 12/11/2013

    oh my...words fail me. I am so thank full for all the nice comments. Thank you everyone. Thank you Michelle for even considering my photos but most of all thank you jeff for giving me the courage to share my garden and work on gpod and for all the encouragement and advise. I cant thank you enough......hello everyone, sorry i'm just commenting now. the time difference plays havoc with when I get to see posts. I am so happy and excited you all love my pictures and i'm inspired by a lot of your photos. I'll try to answer your questions but i'm not too good with identifying flowers(jeff helps out a lot)but wild thyme I think the pink flowers you are asking about are "crown of thorns". i personally don't plant vegetables but they are mainly planted in the soil.....flower lady the trees in the photos are eucalyptus and they grow in the nursery where i work, if you look slightly to the left,theres a foot path leading to a stream where we draw water to water out seedlings.(everything is watered by hand)

  38. marciaelaine 12/11/2013

    I found Annita pictures to be so beautiful and full of color. I raised in south Florida and now live in central Florida and find that she has many of our same plants. So glad she has found her way to nature, it makes life so wonderful. Bless you Annita

  39. palmgirl 12/11/2013

    I didn't realise what a hit my photo with the traditional attire would be.. thank you everyone. i'm glad you like my coleus Meander1. I wish i could name you all but you all are truly inspiring. i was always excited when i could identify some plants posted on gpod and jeff's particularly really drew me in because of his funny comments and kind words. thank you all for appreciating the need for afforestation and thank you Michelle for this opportunity. you are doing a wonderful work and i will continue to send photos. Michelle and Jeff truly are the stars here today.

  40. sheila_schultz 12/11/2013

    Annita, you are so wrong. You are the star today, and it's well deserved! Your story and your photos have touched and brought out the love for our fellow gardeners in all of us. Gardening brings us together... none of us mind getting dirty, we nurture our plants and we all hunger for friends that feel the same way. It doesn't matter what kind of plants we grow, what matters, I think, is the opportunity to grow what makes us happy.
    Michelle has given us the gift of GPOD, and Jeff has given us the gift of friendship. We're all pretty darn lucky from my perspective.
    Thanks to you, Annita, this has been a GPOD LoveFest!

  41. user-1020932 12/11/2013

    no no no , Annita, you are the STAR and these photos are all YOUR work and results. all i did was push you through the door! and yes i will expect more photo submissions in the future! i'm thinking you could probably start a a fabric export business too

  42. mainer59 12/11/2013

    Who would have thought that a post from Nigeria would bring out the best holiday spirit in the Americans who post here? Truly we all are thankful for this blog. And, to echo everyone else, the textiles and lush plantings today were a treat to see (especially from my snow covered vantage point... I am late viewing this today because I went skiing). We are from different places, but we all share a love of gardening.

  43. palmgirl 12/11/2013

    thank you jeff,Sheila and everyone for all the kind words. I totally relish the love going around. On behalf of myself and the ladies of Makurdi central nursery I say a big Thank you to the GPOD family in my local dialect.'Msuur kpishir'(holla jeff for translations)

  44. user-688832 12/12/2013

    Annita--we have a lot of beautiful, inspiring garden photos submitted to this blog. For some reason that I can not explain, your entry touched me in a way no other entry has. Thank you for your courage to reach out half way around the world. Please send more photos as you continue to grow I your new horticulture career. A very merry and blessed Christmas.

  45. MizScarlet 12/12/2013

    I'm sorry I didn't get to comment earlier. I'm just now getting to view all the beautiful pictures and read all the positive comments. I'd just like to add my appreciation to all concerned: Jeff, Annita, and Michelle. No matter how long my days of volunteering are, I look forward at the end of the day to the GPOD and a little relaxation. Keep up the good work everyone. It really is a small, small world.

  46. Meelianthus 12/12/2013

    Annita, thank you for sharing your gardens and a little bit about you and your life in Nigeria. The picture of you sitting
    on the wall with your beautifully colored clothing and all of your charming pots around you is wonderful. That picture would be beautiful on the cover of a magazine! I really enjoyed all of your pictures and a bit of history.
    Kudos to Jeff - who made me chuckle with "I gotta get up early to start talking!", a treat for us all.

  47. user-1020932 12/12/2013

    i did not realize until just now that you had to carry water from the stream to the nursery area! i will never complain about dragging a water hose again,,,,,,,,,maybe

  48. mauritian_host 12/13/2013

    hi Annita first of all hats off to you because I know the type of climate in which you are gardening as I'm close to continent Africa; I'm from Mauritius, the climate across African countries is very challenging yet you did a wonderful job and thank you tntreeman for encouraging Annita to send these pictures.. and to everyone else out there i must tell you; This Lady deserves a big salute!!! keep up the good work and I hope to see more pictures... Peace! :)

  49. palmgirl 12/13/2013

    thank you meelianthus ,Mauritian host for your nice words. user688832 if I am right i'm guessing your climate should be tropical or close to it so we probably share the same challenges but i'm sure your gardens would be fantastic....thank you all.

  50. grannieannie1 12/14/2013

    Thank you for your ideas:

    1. your coleus' color intensity makes me want to grow one also which I suppose is the ultimate gardening compliment : )

    2. simplicity has its own beauty and helps us enjoy nature's surprises better. I especially took joy in seeing the tiny white flower beside the two pink roses. Maybe it grew up on its own? But it would have been missed with competition from other plants.

    3. the patterned dresses of you and your gardening ladies make you each into flowers in your own right! They made me see my faded jeans and t-shirts as poor visual additions in my garden here. Why should I look like a drudge when you are a shimmering delight to the horticultural eye?!

  51. palmgirl 12/15/2013

    thank you grannieannie1. I really appreciate your kind comments.

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