Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Florida Beauty

Nothing in our garden is more capable of thriving on  neglect than this plant: Florida Beauty, Dracaena surculosa 'Punctulata'. Of course, most of our plants are neglected most especially during the dry season, when they really don't receive any supplement water at all because it is always a big problem here. It started as a few stems growing on water in a vase, then transferred to a pot, which eventually conquered its size. I then transferred it to the ground with limited top soil, sitting on the calcareous rock. It doesn't seem to mind that condition, it still produced tall canes which produced leaves and branches at the top portion. They are so tall that i cut them to just a meter high during the dry months. When the rains come, it resumes its prolific growth.

There are some variations in the types of spotting in Florida beauty. So it is commonly called spotted Dracaena or Gold dust Dracaena. Ours is the more green variety, which grows taller than the other varieties. As it has more chlorophylls to make food it tolerates wide ranges of growing temperatures and very easily adopts to  growing light conditions. But we should be careful with our cats and dogs, as this plant is poisonous to them. Although i think they know not to eat it, no matter how starved they are. 

the branch overlapping it is the blue duranta growing above it now

white drooping scented umbel flowers

white flowers turn yellowish as they mature

fruits are mostly ~1cm in diameter changing color from green to orange and red when fully ripe

they are like small red lanterns

sometimes there are more berries in a single bunch

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Oxygen Generators Join Friday Flowers

The rainy season just started, the plants are so grateful and relieved of their torture!  All of them in the big city already show the  lush growths, and the roadsides and highways are again carpeted with green grass. However, our area in the province has not yet fully experienced the big downpour. Only a few drizzles, cloudy skies and some faster air currents are coming in. In these parts of the world, rains don't normally come without the accompanying typhoons and gusty winds. So we are grateful for the news that there are low pressure areas, inter-tropical convergent zones (ITCZ) , or incoming typhoons. We just sometimes ignore the bad connotations of typhoons in the past; landslides, floods, sinking boats and fishermen, and just hope the effects will not be bad this time because we want the rains. Not only our domestic gardens want them, our agricultural fields badly need them, because our population rate is still soaring!

OMG, i don't want my consciousness to deal with those  circumstances. I am trying to focus on our plants, bad visuals, erase, erase! Flowers, flowers, where are you, i have difficulty locating you this time of the year!

this view will convince you that we need rain, to stop this torture

 These Sanseviera and Marantha are under the trees so stay green and unscorched. It flowers at the end of the dry season, just before the rains come.

 No matter how dry the soil and air was, this Pachystachys lutea still adorns the side of our property. Below this is already the community road, and this is a perennial sight. I just cut them completely once they get so tall and unruly.
 The flush or young shoots on mangoes look like flowers too because of their color. I always love looking at those colorful canopies during the dry season. These are the leaves ready for food manufacture to support fruits next year.

 Of course, Heliconia rostrata will not disappoint any gardener. These loud colors will stay there for about 3 months before turning brown. I cut the spent stems to the ground level to allow new suckers to grow faster. Butterflies and insects love these too.

 The red ones are not the flowers, those protrusions at the tips color yellow are the flowers. You can see that some flowers are already brown while others still in bloom. I dissected them once and found lots of sticky substances there, which could be the nectar sucked by sunbirds and butterflies.

 Bougainvilleas are perennially showing their colors too. These are the colorful bracts and the flowers are very small and yellow. When water is withdrawn for sometime till they get very thirsty looking, as in their leaves start to wilt, watering this time will produce lots of colors and blooms. 

 Thornless, scentless roses also try to bloom even with little watering. This variety is disease and pest resistant. I can forego the scent as long as it flowers.

 This almost dying Dendrobium produced a very special single bloom. 

 Duranta erecta even with very few flowers don't disappoint bees, bumble bees and butterflies. I will cut the branches to promote new growths, as soon as the heavy rains come.

 Ripe fruits of Dracaena furculosa provides good colors too, this time of lack.

And of course, fruits like this coffee give a very lovely picture of abundance! This is ready for picking.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2012


I love this term! It is a corrupted term for 'whatever', and i wonder why i love it! It can be reason to escape something or to hide something, or to explain the unexplainable! It can also be a term when we don't actually know something else's meaning, or we can't find it in our immediate consciousness. According to Wikipedia it is a slang expression with several meanings. So, i can also put other meanings to it, most especially when i altered its spelling to 'wateber'. I would like to try.

Igyo, Dysoxylum decandrum

We have a lot of volunteer plants scattered in our property and adjacent lands to the point that it is invasive. In fact, i consider it as that. Whenever i see the seedling in my path, i uproot it or cut them if i have a blade with me. That is because an already mature plant produces a lot of round pods dispersing viable seeds, and these pods have unfavorable smell that when they fall to the ground it really looks and smells yuck! So, my nephew and I call it the 'bad tree', which somehow sounds so really bad for the tree. I am sorry about that, it surely is just doing its job to preserve its species and in doing so produce oxygen for us.

 Igyo, i am so sorry calling you that. I know your trunk is made into many useful things to help people. Your trunk is a bit soft so made into pallets, matchsticks, pulpwood and anything but household furniture. But that is not a cause to give you a bad name. If only your fruits are not emitting a foul smell, i can forgive your presence everywhere. Or maybe you wanted the distressed and disgruntled to call you an inspiration! So to balance my wrongdoings to you and your species, i will post your beautiful side, i hope i made amends.

its beautiful elegant stand is attracting onlookers (if it is alone)

even in deep thicket it is attracting people's attention, but animals don't eat it

the leaf patterns are lovely with slightly pale green color, the midribs are long with many opposite leaflets proudly getting sunlight in the wilderness

 even drought cannot deter its vigorous growths, as if it is not minding the harsh environment

young leaves have reddish hue to withstand the strong ultraviolet rays, so it has a very good defense mechanism to live and be merry. If only we can eat your sprouts!

and your young leaves are so beautiful in that bent incline, if only your hairs are not sticky

I find your young leaves very beautiful. I hope others will find you beautiful too. But i cannot see any caterpillar at all feasting on your leaves. Suffice it to say, you give us ample share of what we breath! 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Rainy Season Begins in the Hot Tropics

I have been telling everyone about our dry season getting hotter and more stressful every year! Two years ago many of our fruits trees died, of course that is over and above the plants smaller and less tough than the trees. This year it was again tough, but unusual typhoon visits during the dry season brought at least one rainy day each in the months of March and May. Thanks to the La Nina phenomenon from the Pacific Ocean, our parched lands and thirsty plants got a slight drink. These unusual rains pacified the trees, but brought very high humidity to animals, which to me feels like being in the oven at 8:00 in the morning. So those of us who are working in big buildings do not venture outdoors unless it is already dark or early evening.

Even if we were officially declared to have started the rainy season in June first, our property in the province seems like it is still in the dry season. However, a lot of plants and bulbs already broke dormancy from the mentioned unusual rains, which gave the picture of a rainy season garden but without the rain! So these plants and flowers describe our unconventional weather and climate this year.

 The red-orange amaryllis, Hipeastrum puniceum, blooms but not simulteneously, and not as lush than when there are more rains during our normal rainy season.

The blood lily, Haemanthus or Scadoxus multiflorus, also joined the bandwagon but also not as beautiful as when there is plenty of water.
 This used cast iron kettle discard has been planted with these bulbs for already three years. The last two years gave simultaneous blooms, but not this time. You can see there are still bulbs just starting to sprout, but apparently not producing flowers.

 At least those planted in the ground bloomed at the same time like the above. I am glad that the weeds died out after emergence. That is the beauty of less rain and too much sunlight, weeds will be lessened. Last year the above red blooms have very dark background of green weeds.

 Our 'kasupanggil' or red Clerodendrum intermedium, braved the heat. It is bushy and maybe have deeper roots to support it. Just a slight 1-day rain was able to sustain the flowers to emerge and even produce fruits.

The fruits above are still at the green stage, while those below already turned blue, ripe and ready for the next planting. This flower is loved so much by butterflies and bees, so very well pollinated.

 Another bulb, whose dormancy is broken by the slight rains during the dry season is our 'katunggal', Proiphys amboinensis. It flowered for the first time last year producing only two umbels. I remember posting this last year asking for its elusive identity. Now it has 4 umbels, 2 already spent with seeds and two still in bloom.

 Above and below show the developing fruits. I wonder if they will push through, as i remember reading in Jacqui's post that it matures slowly for many months. I hope they can still tolerate the dryness and wait for the real rains. I love this plants, can you see its resemblance to the temperate zone hostas.

 The next photos will tell you about its struggle during the hot and dry months. Because their roots are deeper, they were not able to partake with the slight rains. The flowers are short and very much less than when able to get enough rain water.

 Caesalpinia pulcherrima, trying hard to produce flowers. I already cut back its stems to be ready for good growths when the rains come.

 Duranta erecta/ repens, still producing flowers, but also not as prolific as during the rainy season. This is also very much loved by the insects and butterflies, most especially because there are not much flowers around for them to choose from.

 Many twigs already produced fruits, the above are the mature ones. I am delaying its cut-back for the butterflies to still have their nectar in this time of lack. When there are more flowers already, i will cut the branches too.

Above is Salvia splendens, which look so unpresentable this time. It still struggles to flower during the dry season.  Even during the rainy season it doesn't give the lushness and flowering shown when it is planted in colder climates.

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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Free papayas, anyone?

I am sure many of you will sigh in seeing this fruit, a tree ripened papaya fruit. I am sure it is very sweet because it is fully mature. And you are not alone in thinking it is delicious. The crows and orioles plying by our skies and scanning resources in our vicinity did not have second thoughts in getting their share. I have seen a pair of crows eating it. But i just watched. Once, i shooed them away because i saw another pair of orioles looking at them at a distance. Orioles and crows seem to have been fighting often in our property. 

You wondered why we are not picking the fruits! Yes we don't. Sometimes, we once-in-a while get one immature fruit to use as vegetable, put it as a common ingredient in our traditional chicken 'tinola' or chicken stew! Every Filipino craves to eat a native chicken 'tinola', and our family loves it so much, especially from my mother's free range chickens. You are still wondering why we don't get the fruits! Yes, our family are not papaya fruit eaters. I   will eat any fruit except ripe papaya, which i can do without in this life.

Papaya plants grow as volunteers in our property. They are of course from seeds scattered by birds and occasional civet cat. When coffee berries, the favorite of civet cats are not in season, they sometimes eat the papaya fruits. We just allow the female trees to fruit, but we cut the males while still young.

Look at all those fruits, they will just be food for the birds. At least the crow will probably spare the chicks if they are already full eating these fruits. What is beautiful with this papaya tree is its branching habit. When the original trunk was cut by a typhoon last year, it produced five more branches. Every branch produces fruits although this branch has the most numbers. If the birds cannot finish the fruits, the chickens get to the rescue when they fell to the ground. 

This is the whole papaya plant with five fruiting branches, all devoted for the birds.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Orchids for the Dry Season

Even if our dry season kills some plants, stunted others, and stressed the rest, others are forced to show their beauty. Or maybe these are distress signals to hopefully save the species before they die, that is to flower and hope to have seeds. 

This Vanda might not be too beautiful in terms of color and shape! On second thoughts you will not disregard it, nor forget it, because of its heavenly scent which is just light and sweet that prevails the whole day. However, it faints at night and resume again the following morning. It is really heavenly, trust me! 

This other Vanda is not scented, but it has an attractive color which will catch your attention. It just produced a short flowering spike because it was affected by the high temperature and waterless conditions. Our water in the property is also a problem, so it just thrive on its own, and will recover growth again this coming rainy season. I hope it will still be able to survive the torture!

Another Vanda with more pale purple color, but the checkered designs are more prominent. 

This is an endemic species, Cymbidium finlaysonianum. It suffered extreme deaths of the plants in the clump two years ago, leaving only four plants to start growth and development again. Even the lanzones tree it is attached on died that year. This spike reaches to more or less 1 meter in length flowering at  nodal intervals. 

This is a flower taken at the same month last year from the same clump of this orchid. I put this as i might not be able to go home when the present flower buds open.  Notice the long internodes between the individual flowers. The hybrids already have shorter internodes. 

Above is a long spike of the same orchid plant almost reaching the ground. Turnera ulmifolia served as its barrier so it wont touch soil.

This is the fruit or pod of the above orchid, Cymbdidium finlaysonianum. Sometimes it gives 2 to 3 pods per spike, but we don't use the pods for propagation. It is much easier and cheaper to be using the plantlets. Seed propagation is only used by big nurseries if they are intending to produce a lot of seedlings for commerce, and is utilized mostly for unique and difficult to asexually propagate hybrid species. It takes years to produce flowering orchid plants from seeds, and lots of resources also to do so.

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