Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Garden Bloom Day in June

Our rainy season has just officially started last week. These rains normally start arriving in the afternoons, so we now always carry an umbrella in our bags, in case it is raining when we leave our offices. However, there are consecutive days that are still very sunny and it easily gets so hot. The high humidity even aggravates our Heat Index or feeling of heat intensity. Even just going out accross the street literally makes our head hot. Thanks again for the airconditioning inside the buildings. During weekends, the malls are full of people taking advantage of the colder conditions than in their homes.

Our plants and gardens have also responded favorably to the first few rains. In our province the one heavy downpour in May, even before the official rainy season, was enough to break the dormancy of some bulb ornamentals; the crinums, the spider lilies, blood lilies and the amaryllis/hyppeastrum. Even the seeds on the ground scattered normally during the dry months started to sprout, and we have the native plants and weeds now growing well. Of course, it is followed by the butterflies, and the caterpillars are now emerging. In fact the early risers already turned into adults. There already are butterflies roaming in the garden now.

The parade presents:

 Hippeastrum puniceum

I have a long hedge of this species, as well as some mounds scattered around the house. However, this mound responded first to the rain in May, while the length of the hedges didn't give simultaneous flowering. 

Crinum 'Ellen Bosanquet'
This was a present by a friend in the US, and it has flowered twice since it was with me. The scent is lovely. However, all the flowers stageredly bloom in one scape. The first scape opened earlier, this is already its 2nd scape. 

 Crinum white - also with lovely scent, but the blooms are so thin it gets scorched with intense sunlight. 

 Citrus flowers

 the insects like this stingless bee has lots of nectar now from the citrus flowers

Most of my flowers are in hoyas and they are confined in one area. They also favorably responded to the first heavy downpour. The shoots are emerging and flower umbels are bigger.

Hoya multiflora

Hoya celata

Hoya merrillii

Hoya lacunosa

 Hoya alwitriana

 Hoya blashernaezii

 Hoya bifunda ssp. integra

Hoya meliflua
The flowers when it rains are very different than during dry days, because the nectar is washed off leaving only the pale color of the corolla. 

 Hoya pubicalyx with round leaves

  Hoya pubicalyx with round leaves

I posted the flowers because they are from separate plants. The chimeric flowers are beautiful reminiscent of the Royal Hawaiian Purple. 

 Hoya benguetensis 

Hoya mindorensis

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Milkweed Curiosity

I have already been reading about milkweed years ago. This is of course famous because of the equally famous monarch butterflies, which travel from Mexico to the Northern USA to reproduce and other whatever reasons, then return to their origin. Most of them have a few generations before they can come back to their source. And milkweed is associated with them because that is their host plant. Then there came another famous herbicide that kills all weeds, including milkweed. So the biodiversity people make noise on the possible demise of the monarchs, if milkweed population will quickly decrease.

I have actually posted an earlier version of this  HERE.

We don't have milkweed here in our hot lowlands, only in the colder highlands in the Cordilleras. So when i saw this Asclepias curassavica in Baguio City, i quickly got some mature seeds in the pods. I intend to try acclimatizing it in our hot climate. I know we have a different species of monarch too, so i hope they will eventually see my plant in my garden. It is easy to adapt in my garden, although the growth is not as vigorous as in the highlands. But i am glad taking its dramatic, colorful flowers, with those dancing-lady-like blooms. I got seeds even if it is our dry season. However, the local monarchs are still far from materializing in my garden. I have also given a few seeds to a few friends. Eventually, it will live true to itself, invasive. I try getting all the seeds so they will not be scattering around.

The pods are much bigger and fatter than those of the hoyas. The technical term for this is actually "follicle", because pods are fruits of the legumes. 

The seeds are arranged in such fashion just like the hoya seeds inside the follicle.

....and those special hairs, called coma,  will facilitate them to be scattered by wind to long destinations 

one single milkweed seed with lots of hairs called coma

Monday, May 15, 2017

May Blooms 2017

We are at the height of our Dry Season, it is actually not dry but hot and humid. The temperature together with the relative humidity gives a distinct feeling of heat measured as Heat Index. In the city where i live   the temperature today is 36°C and 37°C for the weekend. Those temperatures alone are so difficult to humans and HI gets to 41-42°C! We in the offices are a bit privileged as we have airconditioning units, and i don't leave for home until past 6 for the temperature at home to be milder.

I aborted my plan of going home last weekend for my plants. The conditions in going home will be very difficult, i decided not to risk my health now, as i have not been fully free from the allergic cough i got since last week. I actually had it when i joined the butterfly group in trekking and photographing butterflies, in 3 separate places! I am thankful that my resistance is not really very low, that i was able to go without aggravating my health condition.

I missed photographing my hippeastrum, my hoyas in bloom and other plants i know are blooming. Am glad my sister sent me even just phone shots of the hoyas currently blooming. Others i fully didn't see, but i know these plants are now showing their colors. Most of these i took the first week of May.

Hippeastrum puniceum, after the first typhoon which brought heavy rains in April

above is just a clump, and we had more hedges which are just starting

a clump in the hedges that i wasn't privilege to see blooming

again another portion of the hedges with emerging scapes
 More hippeastrum hedge, with late scape emergence. At the right is a bush of Ixora bracteata

a nice double umbel of Ixora bracteata

 Hoya pubicorolla ssp. anthracina still doesn't stop blooming, it has been blooming since February

 Hoya carnosa red gives lovely dainty umbels

 as usual, H pubicalyx never stops, it is one of the bigger umbels among the hoyas

 another form of Hoya pubicalyx with green rounded leaves, but a bit hesitant in flowering

 Hoya meliflua has one of the long lasting flowers, nectar ooze much brightening the color of the corolla. When it rains the color pales without the nectar.

 Hoya obscura, one of the nicest scents among my collection.

 Hoya merrillii, also lovely and diligent to flower, but doesn't give organized umbels

One of my favorite scents with citrusy smell, Hoya crassicaulis, the golf ball hoya

Hoya multiflora is not viny but erect bush, also very frolific in flowering, with many nodes sometimes all giving umbels.

Left is Hoya lacunosa, another sweet scented hoya. At the right is Hoya valmayoriana which managed to climb the lanzones tree. It escaped my watching eyes.

The above two are sent by my sister from a cellfone shot. Left is Hoya meliflua, which started flowering  for the first time in her care; at the right is the first flowering of Hoya elmeri, formerly Hoya mindorensis superba. It has a big very rounded umbel. 

As i said at the outset, i failed to photograph all the other flowering plants in the garden as i failed to go home last weekend. These are just handy because they are the first priority to photograph when i am home. They are also a little bit pampered, unlike the rest of the gang, which are mostly left on their own. 

Friday, May 12, 2017

In Focus: Hoya lucardenasiana

Hoya lucardenasiana has some extra personal significance for me. It is named after my batchmate in college, Lourdes B. Cardenas. We were not really very close then, but you know how it was as college freshmen. I still remember we were P.E. classmates, and once we went to the big city to look for a swimsuit. The bus took us there in more than 2 hrs. We almost got lost, we searched the old Quiapo area and because we cannot see a store selling swimsuits we accidentally found ourselves in Chinatown. A bit scared because most stores speak Chinese, it felt like we were already in China. We tried our best to retrace our way back to where we started. To make the long story short, we were not able to buy our swimsuits.

I forgot what happened next, the scenes in my mind are now lost to oblivion. Sometimes i still see Lou in some project reviews where her study is funded by our office. She doesn't remember it, but i do. And as the past Director of the Natural History Museum in the University of the Philippines Los BaƱos for a few yearst, this hoya is named after her. Even if we were not very close in college, her namesake at least is very close to me.

newly opened flowers  

A few hours after opening, the corolla already reflexed and nectar 
already oozing from the individual flowers. In temperate countries where 
evaporation is not quick, the nectar form round bubbles on each nectar gland

 It flowers from February to April at the beginning of the dry hot season. 
There are many umbels in a plant at different stages of maturity, 
so you will get blooms in staggered dates. 

 Maybe there are two color forms of this hoya, as i've seen posts where the corolla is darker burgundy, and the corolla even darker. Or probably conditions also affect colors, as is true with other hoya species. Anthocyanins are affected by temperatures, pH and more changes in conditions. 

 This flowers will dehisce in one more day, they fall in 4-5 days.