Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Hoya as our Oasis for April

Our dry season is at its peak, the height of discomfort, inconvenience, lack of many necessities not just because of inavailability, but mostly because of the difficulty in getting them. In my case, inavailability is not a matter of priority of getting, but depends on which comes most difficult. 

But despite these, we still have a lot of things to thank the universe for! Talk of the "incurable optimist" and i am a good representative. Looking at our very dry environment is not pleasant even for a few minutes. So i, or rather my sister, mother and nephew, take care of my hoya garden near the house. It becomes a little oasis that each time we open the front door, or sit on the front terrace, they are our immediate focal points. We sacrifice time, and resources to let these plants live favorably, and they did not displease us. Come everyone, let's look at these promises of buds and blooms!

Hoya buotii yellow form will open in a few days.

Hoya bifunda ssp integra has a few umbels like this. Their small sizes do not diminish their beauty when used as a photograph. Their many umbels suffice for their diminutiveness.

 Hoya obscura orange in its first blooming. There are also a lot of small peduncles with flower buds. It looks like a diligent and busy bloomer.

 Hoya obscura orange viewed from the bottom

 Hoya fungii with its first peduncle promising a lot of flowers. I can imagine the full umbel of  blooms. 

 Hoya fungii another peduncle

another Hoya fungii, and there's a total of 7 peduncles at different stages of bud development

A still unknows species with only less than a meter stem length already promises to produce some flower buds. They are amazing, and i guess they really love the heat and indirect light during our dry season. Just a little watering in the morning and afternoon induce them to be productive.

And .... there are a few that bloom when i was at home during the Holy Week. At least the previously blooming peduncles didn't fail me now, they continuously produce buds one after the other. 

 This Hoya crassicaulis never stops blooming since January. The four umbels are always busy doing their functions, that is producing blooms. This is my most loved at the moment because it changed the common characteristics for this hoya, that is, the corollas cannot recurve back showing the different hues. I have been posting them again and again, showing my delight with it. The lemony scent in the late afternoon through the night is also an additional value.

Hoya mindorensis color form 5. Despite the still short stem, the peduncle already there as a rooted cutting continues to bloom consecutively. It is such a pleasing sight.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Heat Tolerant Blooms of April

Our rains stopped since early March, most annuals already died, and those left alive have scorched leaves and dwindling existence. But in our garden, a few flowers are still fighting for dear life. And my mother and sister try their best to at least supply water as ration. We are so sorry for those that are farther away, they watched and hear the watering but they didn't get any share. Again we are so sorry!

This plant is flowering nicely because it is under the shades of the hoyas, and receive the drips from hoya watering. It looks so happy that way!

Lantana camara shows symptoms of dehydration, umbels get very small and begin to produce ripe fruits, but still it is providing some nectar to visiting insects. It is not only drought tolerant, it is drought resistant, never mind the invasiveness as long as there is some food for the butterflies.

This marigold is also getting drip shares from the hoyas, and is also shaded by the fruit trees shading them. At least these left over heads will provide some seeds for the next rainy season.

This might not be a flower, but the color variegations provide wonderful color contrasts even lovelier than some flowers. It is only in one pot but provide a good accent to a dull corner in the patch. Again it is sharing the nich below the hoyas, getting the shelter and the spill-over water.

This impatiens is very susceptible to heat. It curls and wilts at noontime, yet watering them again after sunset revives them in a few minutes, and they are turgid again in the morning ready for another hot war! The only caution is not to forget watering every morning and evening, forgetting it once will totally decimate them.

This might not be the most beautiful Hoya diversifolia bloom, but it came from the stalk that is being rooted through marcotting. It is a stem only as big as 3mm in diameter, so this umbel size is already a treasure. Besides, there are 3 umbels in the 3-node stem.

Another diligent bloomer is our Hoya crassicaulis. The plant used a half-coke bottle as its home, you can even see the red bottle cover. It has 6 umbels that never stop blooming, producing new buds again after the blooms dehisce. The half bottle provides a very good humidity control mechanism to the plant. The bottom part is inserted above such that the part with the cover is inside the other half. Can you visualize what i meant. Only the container with plant has small holes, and the cover can be tightened or loosened for the desired water in the media. The drips are also contained in the other bottom half to provide more humidity. 

With the performance of this plant, i conclude that my container is a good one for hoya. As a consequence, i am pooling the discarded coke bottles just for this purpose. We are happy and my hoyas are happy too! And to show that this hoya is happy, wait till you see the present characteristics of the flowers. Please see below!

There are so plenty of individual flowers, that didn't allow room for the corolas to recurve back. And all the six umbels showed the same characteristics in this present blooming. It is a very welcome abnormality because the bloom seems different than the real one! What more can i ask for!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Glutton Ants

At the end of our property, we have an area which transitioned to semi-forest. Nobody touched that area since my father died, and in the tropics if you allow an area undisturbed it will surely become a little wilderness. And this area turned out to be my favorite. The leaf litters accumulate beneath the trees, and some small reptiles like to go there. In and out of the tree canopies, birds roost and they seem to be feeling safe lingering there. A lot of them are already singing in the morning. My niece can hear different bird calls that grow in number through the years.

I promise not to clean this area at all, to offer some sanctuary to whatever wildlife that want to linger there. Of course there will not be any big animals nor monkeys that will come, because it is really far from the big forest. At least it can be a haven for the birds.  In July last year i saw some epiphytic plants on trees; i took some thinking they are hoyas.

No flowers are visible when i found it, the leaves are not as clean as it looks now. I had to do some washings and scrapings on the leaves to photosynthesize better. After 3 months with us those little red flowers come out from most of the nodes. That's the time i realized it is not a hoya but a dischidia. I sought the help of some hobbyists in a group of Philippine flora, telling me it is Dischidiopsis parasitica, endemic to the country. 

I realized those lipstick-like tube flowers also bloom a little at maturity. The tip divides into 5 parts showing white inner parts. The length of each flower is just around 1 cm, and i haven't brought a magnifying glass to see the inner parts. The ants find the nectar attractive, look at that one ant with its head fully hidden while sipping the sweet inside it. 

I watched a little longer and all the flowers with cracked or open ends were invaded by ant, one at a time. It is exciting watching them dig their heads inside, and after a few minutes come out when satiated. Another ant will take the turn to enter. Sometimes, an ant go back and forth 3-4 times. Haha, even ants are gluttons too!

This is how the plant looks now. They grow hanging down, and seem happy in their new location. What more will they ask for, they can drink more frequently than their normal habitat. The covering debris on their leaf stomates are cleaned for more efficient food manufacture. They are surely happy, and the ants and I are happy too! More for me as i have subjects to photograph and some drama to watch when i go home!

Friday, April 4, 2014

My Hot Environment

Hello my blogfriends! I have not been posting lately due to a few trips evaluating some projects in the provinces. And i am sure most of you also experience this, that after a while you feel like taking a vacation first from the blogworld. Sometimes, i get this feeling, maybe we can put a name to it. It is not a burnout yet at least. And whenever i take some exciting photos i think about my blogsite again. Sometimes though, i feel a little guilty that i am not visiting your posts as often as i should. But i guess each one of us understands that as well. So, i am alive again trying to elicit some comments again from you. And when the blogblood flows through my lazy consciousness, there is always some adrenaline rush that keeps most of us going. How are you blogfriends?

 Our dry season just started this month, but it feels like we are already in it for a long time. Imagine starting the season at 33-35°C in the mornings! That gets to at least 37°C at mid-day. I am happy i don't need to go out outside the office building the whole day, because it really is scorching hot.

Despite these conditions, some flowers still bloom, like this marigold at home in the province. Of course you know i stay in the big city during weekdays, but i blog about our garden and plants in my hometown.

The Sanchezia speciosa always blooms at the beginning of the dry season. They are lovely as long as i can minimize the attack of meally bugs. When that happens and they stick within the recesses of the buds, i just cut the spikes and put them to dry under the scorching sun.

 This Crossandra infundibuliformis loves it with a little shade, and it never stops blooming. I put its pot under the lantana bush topiary. With a little watering when my mother remembers it provides a good show, which is beautiful i agree, nevertheless adds more heat to the feeling. Dont' you think so?

And to share with you my orange-hot surroundings, this is our view of the sunrise. I went out of bed at 5:30am purposely to catch it. The bright orange morning is a prelude to the very hot sun the whole day! I lingered awhile before coming back to the house for the morning coffee, and at 7:00am i am already perspiring! Do you believe me now? It is really hot here...i told you so!!!