Monday, August 14, 2017

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day in August

We are supposedly at the middle of our Rainy Season for this year! I remember rainy seasons in the past when it is difficult to go home in the afternoons, there are some flooding that punishes the commuters most specially the students. There are also days when even the government and private offices are closed to give safety for employees.

We all know that this season brings us lots of typhoons, that eventually gets harder through the years, supposedly because of climate change. We now have Signal #4, when previously the maximum typhoon is only Signal #3. However, these days we only get a few thunderstorms in the afternoons and a few typhoon from the Pacific Ocean. But most of them did not hit land surface. We should be thankful for the less typhoons, but we should also lament the lack of rains. The truth is we only get rains when there are typhoons, seemingly they are directly correlated. Suffice it to say that at present our plants still need rain, maybe not badly but yet they are wanting!

Despite the changes, we still get more blooms than during the dry season.

Impatiens balsamina has more flowers during rainy season

more Impatiens balsamina, also loved by some butterfly species

Top: Ixora javanica and Bottom: Ixora coccinea
They are both planted for the butterflies.

a kind of shrimp plant

Duranta erecta teeming with flowers for the butterflies

Thunbergia erecta

hippeastrum NOID

Hippeastrum reticulatum var striatifolium, the only hippeastrum blooming
continuously throught the year

Crinum zeylanicum has 3 flower buds

hedge of shrimp plant, Pachystachys lutea

Hoya campanulata

Hoya buotii purple

Hoya pubicorolla ssp. anthracina

Hoya benguetensis

 my hoya seedlings growing nicely with higher humidity around

the ferns

the grasses under the coconut trees

Monday, August 7, 2017

In Focus: Hoya 'Black Dragon'

Formerly called The Black Hoya

This hoya was collected from the forest of the Philippines just recently. It was first sold by the collector to foreign markets as Hoya pubicalyx 'Black Dragon'. The photo in the webside really has black corolla. A few attempts in getting it from the collector failed, but subsequent strategies let him sell me one already big plant. It was not cheap, i tell you! Of course, i almost begged him to sell me, so whatever price he quoted, i must pay. So that was the starting story of my 'Black Dragon'. 

flowers starting to burst very obviously showing the pubescent inner corolla

After two long years with constant fertilizing and extra care, it gave me two umbels. The flowers are not as black as that in the collector's website, but it is blacker than most, i suppose. So the observation continued. After many months and lots of not very black corolla color, i read in some collectors abroad that theirs purchased from the same collector also did not appear as black. Some of them were disappointed thinking they were given the wrong species, as the color sometimes are more violet than black.

 the green pedicels
At least mine showed the same characteristics of other parameters except the fully black corolla. I also realized that it was not anymore having its original name, but already changed to Hoya pubicorolla subspecies anthracina. The author said that the original Hoya pubicalyx lectotypes were not existing as they were destroyed in WW II. If that is true or not, an authority still has to make another study and changes if ever that is really reliable. 

 top is almost maroon, while bottom is darker purple almost light black

 If you do not know that the previous 2 photos came from the same plant, you will say they are different! They are both from the same plant, but flowers from different months.

I have a theory that as time goes on the media becomes more acidic, changing the hue from bluish black to reddish. These pigments, being anthocyanins, are very susceptible to change in pH. So i am trying to bring back the black color by alkalinizing the media, however i am not at home most of the time, so it is not done competently. I hope i can do it more religiously when i will be staying at home longer. My color change are changing a bit, but not really very conclusive yet.

 Even the shapes of the individual flowers look different sometimes. Look at the above photo and compare it with the photo above it. They don't look the same, do you agree? But again, they came from the same plant. I know, they are all mine, i took all the photos with the same light setting. The hue differences are obvious to the naked eye in person.

The plant showing the shiny fully green leaves , veins not evident except the midrib. It grows luxuriantly vegetative with a few umbels when fully mature. The good thing here is the continuous flowering once it started, not many simultaneous umbels but continuously. 

The details of the botanical descriptions are here: Kloppenburg, RDK. Hoya New, vol. 1-2, Dec 2013.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Self Supporting Orchids

These Vanda orchids have been on the ground for many years. They seem to be dying in our dry season and rejuvenate again when the rains come. After 2 months of rains, they produce again some inspiring lovely flowers that stay there for 2-4 weeks. They are like ephemerals.

This one is not Vanda but Phalaenopsis schilleriana, native to the Philippines. 

Monday, July 24, 2017

Early Morning Walk

When at home in the province on weekends, i feel some semblance of rejuvenation. Maybe it is the result of clean air that is not as heavy as the polluted atmosphere we breath at the big city. It literally is easier to breath at home. I don't linger in bed because i have lots of things to do in the garden, and if there is spare time i will try to photograph some butterflies.

This morning i opted to go out, literally from bed i just slid on my slippers and go out clinging my camera. I felt a bit hungry but that can wait till i return. I intended to be out for just maybe an hour. It turned out that it rained that night, which i didn't even notice, maybe i had a very deep sleep. The plants are all still wet and there are still some puddles on the sidewalk. I am very familiar with the vegetation, the cracks on the pavement, the possible insects i will be spotting, and a lot more.

But i am always fascinated with my findings, as if it happened only the first time!

There is nothing more revujenating than the fresh air after the rains at night! And there is an emotion evoked by these fully refreshed grasses with still the dews on them.

Even the Artemisia scoparia, a weed favored by our butterflies, look so healthy.

 I spent lots of time trying hard to get some macro shots of the bubbles, got lots and lots of shots.

 I refer to this as my terrarium, with grasses mirrored in the bubble.


Our sidewalks are teeming with healthy weeds with these violet flowers, Ruellia tuberosa. I also spent a lot of time looking for any larvae eating them, they wont run out of food in this lush growth. 

 It is disappointing that our golden shower tree, Cassia fistula, has been fully pruned as it grows so enormously. The green and yellow butterflies, Catopsilia pomona, will find some alternative hosts as food. I just don't know what those plants are. 

 My single bush of Duranta erecta, a favorite nectaring plant for most of our butterflies, already need some trimming. The berries are already turning yellow, getting old. It has to be rejuvenated too. Can you see the male Mormon on it? Papilio polytes

 Some black ants converged on towing their big food, cricket, to their nest. 

I found 5 of these black thorny larvae on my hoya plants, many young leaves are already sacrificed as their food, so i gathered them and transfered to an area far from the hoyas. I wonder if they can find alternative food there. But these creatures are voracious, and they walk so fast. 

A pollinated hippeastrum failed to grow, aborted before its time. The sad thing about this plant is that they flower only once a year! It is another year of waiting for another attempt in cross pollination.

Our papaya with violet/blackish petioles have plenty of small fruits. There are 2 ripe fruits now, but they are not spared by the crows that linger in our area for whatever food they might find, including my mother's chicks if they are not properly protected. 

Lastly, here is a lovely find. A pair of blue-naped kingfisher are so noisy on our camansi tree. They are a bit far up the tree, and i only have a 50mm lens, so this is heavily cropped. At least we can see them a bit clearly. The female on top seem to be talking as its beak is widely open. 

My intended time for walking definitely did not materialize, it was extended until i was out for 3 hours, 6:30 - 9:30 a.m. I cannot anymore pretend that my stomach is not complaining, i am very, very hungry now that i have first to have breakfast. Besides,  the sunlight is already a bit biting the skin. 

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

July Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day

I am glad i now remember GBBD even still at the beginning of the month.  So a week before the 15th i am already doing this post, i am laughing at what i am thinking now!

Fortunately, our rainy season already started in June, so the dormant plants are already blooming this month. Moreover, there are already new shoots as food for the caterpillars; already have butterflies now. Sidewalks are already laden with green carpets too.  Birds are also chirping happy songs, that is according to my interpretation of their tweets. If that is not true, then let us ask the birds.

So i will not anymore lengthen my paragraphs, i will let my photos do the talking. These are just a few of them as they will be overflowing in one post. The hoyas are even longer than these list, they can enter next time.

Blood lily, Scadoxus multiflorus. Top: still starting to bloom. Bottom: at the full blooming stage.

 Katunggal (local name), Proiphys amboinensis, considered native in the Philippines but it is growing also in many countries. They go dormant at the end of the rainy season and starts with flowers after the heavy rains in May-June. They prefer partially shaded areas and ours is under some   coffee trees.

  katunggal, Proiphys amboinensis

 katunggal, Proiphys amboinensis

The caladiums are starting to grow too.

Caladiums are lovely at the beginning, but eventually they will succumb to the moth caterpillars

 More caladiums: Above: very prolific multiplier. Below: Only has 4 suckers in 5 years.

This is a hedge of candle flower, Pahystachys lutea. We just leave them as perennial and just prune the branches every start of the dry season. I planted this here to support the unlevel ground because of the low street, preventing more soil erosion.

Crotons are also planted as perennial. They just wilt during the dry season, so i also cut back the stems at the start of the rainy season. They are mostly planted for their colorful leaves, but small flowers when borne by long inflorescense are lovely too. 

The most durable plant in my garden is this blue Duranta erecta. It is already as tall as around 10 ft and don't stop flowering even during the dry season. It serves as the butterflies' nectar source all year round. We have other nectar plants but they seem to favor this duranta. 

A Dark Blue Tiger butterfly, Tirumala hamata orestilla, always linger nectaring on it. 


Episcia yellow and red are now happy producing flowers. 
They prefer moist environment all the time.