Thursday, May 29, 2014

Heat and Sweet Overdose

Even our blooms add heat to our already hot climate. Warm colors arise in our hot environment! What would you feel if you are in our place? I hope the Great Creator will not get mad at me for saying i get bored sometimes with these colors. In my heart is written i just miss the blues and violets. 

But these certainly alleviate the stress of seeing continuously dry landscapes, brown, wilted and dead. At least there is some remaining wonder from my plants.  A little simple water recycling can do magic for them. 

 This Hoya obscura is bright orange at this bud stages, specially when directly exposed to the sun. However, they are just yellow when fully open.

Kitchen-used water is saved in big basins to water our small plants like this Crossandra infundibuliformis. Those not regularly watered already wilted and died. We are sorry for them, as clean water is not enough for all of us to continue life. Those nearest the kitchen or nearest to our hearts have the priority.

 Despite the heat, papaya plants still continue fruiting. However, people compete with the birds specially the crow. They almost do not leave the vicinity of the papaya plants. When the crows go out and maybe look for water, the yellow vented bulbuls and the Asian magpie robin take their chances too. They cannot pick the big fruit to a place of safety, so just eat them on the plant. That is my advantage as i can even pick the fruit still at a green stage just to get ahead of them. It looks like survival of the fittest between me and the birds. My discards will then go to the chickens.

I tell you, tree-ripened papayas are the best, very sweet and fresh. It cannot be surpassed by those you found in the supermarkets, which are picked at breaker stages and allowed to ripen at the store. Now you will understand when i say, "I just eat papayas from our own trees"! That is a fact, at least in my case! I wish i can convince you of the quality from the tree. With a hedonic rating of 1-9, ours is 8 while the supermarket papaya might be at 6. Now, do you agree! haha! I won with the birds and you.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Its Shore Time!

A few decades ago when the population in our area is still low, the road traversing from the right to the left of this picture, is mostly along the shoreline. I remember some few kilometers without barriers to the sea and driving along the circumference of this cove is magnificently pleasant. These days these areas are mostly blocked by houses, buildings, stores, structures. We only see glimpses of the sea through small spaces between man-made structures, and driving is boring already.

At least a few meters in this portion is till left open, as parking spaces for those small boats.  Look at the house at the right corner, that is just one of the many eyesores in this part of our shoreline. Maybe only a typhoon as strong as 'Yolanda' can get this area to what it should be!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

I Love these Red Birds

Who among you will disagree that these look like birds? To me they are converging on a feeder busy getting their share of seeds! They are very much concentrated on picking the seeds and nothing around will disturb those poses. 

I've known this as Pedilanthus tithymaloides, although newer references said that this previous name is subsumed by the newer name Euphorbia tithymaloides. Changing scientific names is not new, but i am still amazed to find it has accumulated at least 32 names to itself. That doesn't include yet the so many local terms in my country, that differ depending on the dialect of the place. Our Batangas Tagalog term for it is "swerda or suwerda". I don't know how it came along, or where it came from but that's just it. 

And my 2nd amazement is in reading that it came from the subtropical North and Central America. Oh, so it is an immigrant or naturalized plant here with us. Be that as it may, we learned to love them. We have a long hedge of these when we were kids, trimmed periodically on top and both sides, looking so neat and organized. And a secret i will reveal is that during those days we sometimes took the flap of the 'bird's head' to reveal the nectar, then we sipped it, very nice taste! Now that we're adults i once asked an equally adult officemate from a province very far from us if they as kids sipped the nectar too. And we were so happy confirming we had the same experience. I wonder why kids those times are prone to sip nectar! My last amazement was that it is highly toxic, thanks God we didn't taste the milky sap!

What about you?

Monday, May 12, 2014

Hirsute Beauties

Plants are usually equipped with hairs. They are mostly common in growing shoots, peduncles and flowers. These hairs are technically called trichomes. The description and patterns of these trichomes also have distinct names; e.g. hirsute - coarse hairs, hispid - bristly hairs, pilose - long, straight, soft or erect hairs, etc. These growths have mostly defense functions for the plant organ they arise from. Herbivores like larvae of insects will have physical difficulty to directly attack the plant parts with hairs. Some hairs even have chemical compositions that help deter invaders. This is the reason why most young shoots and buds have trichomes.

 Tubelike flower of Sanchezia speciosa. Both the style supporting the stigma, and the filament supporting the pollens are hairy. 

The anther is that portion above supported by the filament and contains the pollen. Even the anther is equipped with short dense hais that protects the pollen. The hairs can also trap predators.

The unoppened flower of the Sanchezia speciosa are borne on spikes

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Lessons from our Dry Season

Our Hippeastrum puniceum, is already with us when i started to notice my surroundings! That might probably be before 5 years old. In some countries maybe you can already call that heirloom, as it already passed on through several generations. But this is not endemic or native to the country, rather it might actually be introduced to the country centuries ago during the galleon trade with the Spaniards and Portuguese. The bulbs stay long even without water, so it can either be persistent or on the negative side can be invasive. 

We have hedges of hippeastrum in our property at the border of the garden. They are mostly seen as green foliage during the rainy season, and cannot be seen at all during the dry season. Their foliage totally dry with the heat and bright sun. The bulbs are just there on the ground waiting for the first heavy rains in April-May. 

Something unusual on them happened starting last year. That time there was a slight drizzle that induced them to flower. So i was not intrigued. However, this year there is no drizzle nor any rain at all starting February. But they still bloom starting April. Most of the scapes are short than normal, at just about 6 inches. I observed that only a few scapes emerged, compared to the totally dense scapes and flowers during the previous rainy seasons.  

Lushness of the flowers is the same with the rainy season blooms. However, during the rainy season the leaves emerge fast or sometimes at the same time with the growing scapes.

Another reality that i observed just now is this bulb. It was a loose bulb that my mother placed at the trunk of the cycas tree, forgot to remove it there. I just noticed it last week because of the two blooms, prompting me to check. The position in the trunk is 1.5 m above ground, and you will see above how it looks like now, rootless, leafless, and dry.  But those conditions did not prevent it to bloom.

 The above single bloom is twisted that gave it a different beauty. 

I realized that this species do not need any induction at all to break dormancy. It seems cued to bloom in April, and despite the absence of moisture they produced flowers, no matter what! I am awed yet pity them as their leaves might not be able to grow. Our weather forecasters say El NiƱo is coming in June, that might further delay the rainy season. These conditions will further muddle my otherwise already muddled observations, and further complicate my conclusions. Far as it may, i will just enjoy the flowers, for now!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Hoyas and Friends

You will not be surprised why my posts are mostly of hoyas. Even my FB photos are hoyas too. Maybe it is also a stage in my ornamental hobby escapade. When both blogging and FB were not yet "in", i was into orchids. Or let's say, that time even digital technologies are still being invented. So when the orchids craze left me, and literally they left me too, succumbed to virus, i changed to hoyas. That was only for the last 2-3 years. And space and time hasn't changed yet for me. I am still an absentee gardener, relegating all the maintenance to my sisters and nephew who are left at home where my hoyas are. I am in the big city, trying to be home only on occassional weekends. These past few weeks i try to go home weekly, even at these extreme heat, do you know why? The main reason is to tend to my hoyas and monitor what happens to their growth, observe the conditions most specially the first blooms. A few of them are already showing signs of flower buds, and a few already has blooms.

Of course, i will not let them pass without taking their photos. Even the smallest of buds or shots are recorded. Now, their visitors are recorded too, and i will be sharing them with you.

 First flowering of my Hoya fungii had 3 blooms opening in 3 consecutive days, so i can watch the 3 of them so delightfully. Moreover, the scent in the late afternoon to the early night is too strong that it catches a lot of attention, both humans and insects.

 The above cotton bug, Dysdercus cingulatus, is less than 2 cm in length. It has been there for 2 nights and 2 days. It is still there when i left for the city on Sunday afternoon. I wonder if it is still not drunk yet with all the nectar it has been sipping all those time. Its proboscis is always digging the nectar container.

 This bee also lingered for so long. But unlike the cotton bug, it leaves for a few minutes to go to other flowers. But the lure of the hoya nectar is maybe so overpowering, that it returns again and again.

 This ant maybe has other intentions other than sipping nectar. I guess it is eyeing some prey of smaller ants that frequent the flowers. I just wasn't able to watch them longer, but the dynamics of predatorship in my hoya plants are going on so healthy and active.

Maybe this is a sucker, as it has a long proboscis always pointing to the stem. I just don't want to alter their dynamics, so i let it be. It is less than 1 cm in lenght. This can be a hopper.

I wanted to record more of the residents of the hoya community, but i just have no enough time. I still have to tend to the bigger work of watering, making trellis, getting the long hoya shoots from embracing its neighbors, clipping them to their own pots.  Later on, i will do more of these records, by that time i will share with you more. I hope i can at least give you a few information.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

A Struggling Foreigner

A blogger friend from Illinois is so kind enough to send me some bulbs of the Lily family. She is a grower of lilies, big and small, of different colors, species and varieties. And she is aptly named Lily also.

Being previously grown in a temperate country with winters and summers, this one among the many, is found to be acclimatizing nicely with our two seasons and our very hot dry season. It is suffering greatly, evidenced by the scraggly leaves and almost dying look. I was almost just waiting for it to dry completely and be convinced that it cannot tolerate our climate. But this dry season it surprised everyone with this lovely blooms and its lovely sweet scent. The individual flower stays open only for one day, but they take turns in opening. I just don't know yet if they behave like so in its climate of origin. I just know the scapes in its native land are as tall as 5 ft, yet here the scape is barely a foot tall. Nevertheless, i am so happy it shows us her beauty. I hope next year we will see a more acclimatized plant.

Crinum 'Ellen Bosanquest'