Thursday, December 15, 2016

Blooms in December

The colder temperatures for the year are finally here! The Northeast Monsoon already brings the colder temperatures from the winter countries north of us, like China and Russia. These temperatures are maybe hotter than most of the summers in temperate countries, but we love it anyway as these are the only cold temps we get. You might laugh but the lowest we get in Metro Manila is just below 25°C, which also gets to above 30°C at mid day! Don't worry about us, when we really want to get colder, we go to the uplands or Baguio City, that we call our Summer Capital. The temperatures there are sub-tropical, where most of us wear sweaters and jackets.

In my province where my garden is, it only gets colder at dawn, so we feel the most out of it as much as we can. At noon we still get 32-35°C. What do you say about our temps, when some countries already have the negative numbers? That is fine, as long as we still get enough flowers. They are dwindling now, but they don't really get lost, they just mature and produce seeds. Some are still blooming though.

There are 2 orchids there, the terete Vanda and the white Dendrobium.They are self supporting so not very luxurious in growth.

This Ixora coccinea  just blooms continuously throughout the year. It doesn't mind if its raining or dry season. During the latter the leaves just get yellowish but still produce flowers. And can you see that Scarlet Mormon butterfly? It is one of our biggest, and also one of the most difficult to photograph.

The red hibiscus is always there too, we just always prune it to get just bushy. Red against green is very Christmassy in color.

This firespike is under the trees, yet continuously produce those red spikes.

Yellow heliconias are blooming too, but the blooms are few compared to the leaves, so i can't get a wide angle shot with lots of them.

Gardenia when in bloom gives sweet fragrance in the vicinity. It is just unfortunate that the bloom stays open only for a day.

Turnera subulata is tolerant of the dry season.

Turnera ulmifolia also has deep roots that allow it to thrive even during the dry season. Dry or wet, the turneras are always around. It is much loved by the honeybees and stingless bees. 

my white dendrobium

another self supporting terete Vanda perfectly lovely in lavender

Asystasia intrusa

Asystasia intrusa lives up to its name, very invasive! If we will not cut their vines, it will conauer every space in the property. Here it serves as fence climbing the cyclone wire.

Pentas lanceolata, another favorite of the butterflies, stressed during the dry season though.

Hoya buotii, named after one of the botanists at the University of the Philippines Los Banos.

Hoya nakarensis, named from the place it was first collected, Nakar, Quezon.

Hoya alwitriana, very much loved by the native honeybees. Even if there are hoya blooms around, they just converge in this hoya. Yellow is attractive to insects. 

Hoya ilagiorum is also named after a family from UP Los BaƱos, it flowers all year when propery attended to.

And of course, this Hoya diversifolia is constantly blooming from September to January. Most of you have seen this, as i can't resist posting them blooming at the top of the lanzones trees. It suffered a bit when we cut some branches of the tree for the new hoya house. I gave some friends a lot of cuttings. I hope the remaining vines will continue flourishing for many years. 

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Critters on my Hoya

Hoya ilagiorum is one of the most prolific of the hoyas. After the blooms dehisce, it starts preparing for the buds again, and in a few weeks blooms appear once more. It also has a slight aroma that is not actually bad, but not also very prominent to the senses. It blooms in the afternoon and remains open for 3-4 days. Some hoya species rest for a while from blooming, but this one never fails to delight us. And of course, its color is very attractive.

a typical Hoya ilagiorum umbel

last week i saw some flowers without the corona, or those whitish stars protruding from the corolla

I searched inside the umbel, and this very small larva about 2 cm in length is the culprit. I removed it and put in a farther place. Unfortunately, some chickens followed me and saw it. That was a food chain happening before me. 

The other umbel just newly opened, and this butterfly cannot resist its scent and nectar. The nice thing about this butterfly is its lingering habit, not always fluttering rapidly like the others. It is friendly to the camera and delightful for me. Idiopsis juventa manillana

Even if my time is very much occupied, if the butterflies alight on the hoya, i cannot resist taking their pictures. I felt like it was my reward for so much time devoted to the hoyas, neglecting to chase the butterflies. But if they are together, then i can have both in one shot, 2 birds in one stone!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Pictures of my Lost Plants

These flowers, insects or photos are some of those i missed. They have been with me in my garden for quite a few years, then for some reasons they just got lost. Some died due to our harsh circumstances, some accidentally killed, some without known causes. In effect, i missed them much. Some are easily restored, some will take years to restore and some cannot be restored anymore.

Easily restored:
This is camia in the local term, Hedychium philippinense K. Schum. 1904 in The Plant List. I got mine originally from a province in the Visayas during my travels. It has a sweet scent that will fill your garden and reach your home in the early evening. That brings a bit of a mystical experience as dusk envelopes the surroundings. 

Ours died during the last year's long dry season. We cannot provide the much needed water, so it totally died, rhizomes and all. It is easily restored because my sister has a young plant taken from it before it died. Her condition is much kinder, so i can easily ask for some rhizomes as replacement. 

Moderately Easy to Restore: 

Top and bottom photos are of Celosia gigantea. It was not around the garden for maybe 3 years now. The seeds totally were not able to make it to the next rainy season. In the past, after these annuals die, the seedlings just appear the coming rainy season, but in this case the dry season was very long and the seeds were not able to maintain germinability in the soil at the normal rate. 

It is can be restored moderately easy if only i can see a plant anywhere and i can get a few seeds. They are just at the base of the flowers and can easily be scratched, germinate easily.The only problem is if i will not be able to see them anywhere on my daily walks or travels. 

The pink, double Impatiens balsamina cannot be easily restored because just like the Celosia, it can also be restored if i fortunately come across it in my daily walks or travels. Or if the present violet and white varieties in my garden accidentally produced the pink, although that would only be single petals, OMG, please let me see another impatience pink double, haha!

This orange-throated gumamela also died last year's long dry season. So i included it to the moderately easy to restore. If i see it again in garden shows, then i can replace it. 

  Cannot be restored: 
 This gaillardia had given me wonderful photographing moments. It has the most photogenic flowers i had for a few years. Every stages of the flower is a photographer's delight, and that includes every moment of the day.  The hirsute bud, i also missed so much. 

It was sent by a friend from the US, so it underwent a long acclimatization process. It received special watering treatments during our hot long dry season, but still it succumbed to the heat. Its genes cannot withstand it in the new environment. I hope someone from the US will send me some seeds again sometime. That is the only way this can be replaced. Thank you very much.



This is a Curcuma. Its leaves dry during the dry season and resurrect when the heavy rains come. The lovely part of its growth is that the spike above with the flowers emerge long before the leaves appear. Isn't that a wonderful garden accent if there are plenty of these growing on the ground? 

However, last year's dry season we had house renovation, and some discarded roofs were piled on top of the ground. They didn't notice that there was this plant there because the leaves are totally dried. Eventually, the rhizomes rot because the roof was left there for a long time. I am so sorry, but that is an unusual circumstance, more like an emergency. So i will have to look for it again in the mountain where i previously got it. At least i know where to look for its natural habitat. 

Friday, November 11, 2016

Flowers Almost at End of Their Days

The colder days in the year are starting to be felt here. The Northeast Monsoon brings the colder winds from our neighboring countries that has the peak of winter in December.  Most of us are excited for these colder nights because we have been exasperated by the hot days throughout the year. Besides, it coincides with the Christmas Holidays, where our festivities start in September. We normally call these as "BER"months, to denote the months from September to December. But actually, colder temperatures are until February, when the dry season starts.

For ornamentals, these months coincide with their maturity and flowering starts to dwindle. Annuals produce seeds and the plants start to die. That way, the seeds are ready before the dry season starts to be too harsh for them. They are genotypically prepared for the continuity of the species.

This anthurium is pinkish red, but beautifully produce some variegation at maturity

anthurium flower stages

Dianella tasmanica produced lots of those minute flowers in November

Pentas lanceolata is a perennial but they love it better with colder nights. Butterflies also starts to be less, but they still love the pentas blooms.

Bougainvillea is also a floriferous perenial, never stops blooming

Marigold becomes scraggly these days, but the blooms are still lovely at old age, don't you agree?

We have some scentless roses too. I guess they are less palatable when scentless. No wonder they don't need to have thorns, so it is the Unscented Thornless Rose!

This is a lone chili pepper at the front of the house, delivered by birds. We let it grow there and it became like a small tree, about more than 6 ft. It was actually taller than me. The birds love the ripe fruits. We don't have much use for the fruits, and the birds monopolize the eating.

ready for harvesting, eh!

The blue duranta, well loved by the butterflies, now have few flowers left. The flower stems don't look nice anymore. In a little while, the green fruits will emerge concomittant with the dwindling numbers of butterflies. They are in-sync, don't you think so?

Even the caladium  gets scraggly, not looking good anymore at old age. Some are even eaten by the hawkmoth larvae turning serrated leaves.

Lantana camara and Ixora coccincinensis are both perennials, 
they are not bothered much by hot or colder temperatures. 

Look at the Impatiens balsamina, fruits are maturing, some even already dehisced busting them to the ground. I have also uprooted a lot of plants for the compost. 

Mussaenda blooms are maturing too, reaching the extent of blooming. 
A few more weeks and they are ready for prunning or beheading. 

Of all the plants we have, it is Hoya diversifolia that brings me so much excitement.  The vines outside the canopy, facing the bright sun produced umbels at every node, and they continue to bloom until January or February. They have been like that since September. I think you will agree with my enthusiasm. Other hoya growers don't experience the blooms i get from it. This is its 2nd year of blooming like that. 

Above is the close-up of some blooming stems near the tree main branch. The only disadvantage is the height of the tree, i need to go to the roof to take some photos. The first photo was taken on the ground, while above was on the roof. Can you blame me for giving more attention to the hoya?  I have made a post about it "In Focus" in the previous posts.